Navy Day in Chile

Navy Day is a holiday observed annually in Chile on May 21st. Also known as Chilean Navy Day, this holiday commemorates the date of the Battle of Iquique on this date in 1879. This battle took place during the War of the Pacific that occurred between this country and Peru. Although the battle ended with the defeat of Chile’s navy, the day is remembered because great courage was shown by Arturo Prat—the captain of one of the Chilean ships.

It was his bravery that encouraged many Chilean men to enlist in the navy following his death. As a result, his bravery would eventually lead Chile to win the War of the Pacific in the end.

The History Of Navy Day In Chile

During the War of the Pacific, the town of Iquique was located to the north of Chile and was firmly under the control of Peru. Chile had ended up blockading the port with two ships, and as a result, Peru sent two ships to break the blockade.

Because Peru’s ships were more modern than Chile’s ships, the battle ended, and the Chilean Navy was defeated. The captain of one of the Chilean ships was Arturo Prat, and he fought valiantly until his death. The result is that he inspired a generation of Chileans who would end up joining the navy. With the influx of new recruits, the Chilean Navy was able to grow and eventually led Chile to win the War of the Pacific in 1884—also known as the Saltpeter War.

Observing Navy Day In Chile

This holiday is marked by political speeches and parades. It also features the Chilean President giving the annual State of the Union Address. Because it’s a public holiday, government offices, shops, and businesses are closed on this day.

This is also a day when Prat is recognized even more as the national hero that he is—which is difficult considering that his name adorns streets and squares all over Chile and that his portrait is on the 10,000 Chilean peso note.

Where is it celebrated?
Chile (National holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 21 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
May 21 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
May 21 Sunday