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Patterns of Economic Development

Forestry and Fishing

About 40 percent of Central America is forested. The early years of European activity in Belize, for example, revolved around the extraction of dyewoods, and later mahogany, chicle, and pine timber were produced. British timber companies also cut mahogany and cedar along the greater Caribbean coast. Today, forestry is a relatively unimportant aspect of the Central American economy. Pine is the main wood harvested, and some hardwoods, such as cedar, mahogany, and rosewood, also are cut.

Fishing too is a comparatively minor economic activity in Central America. Shrimp and spiny lobster, caught off the coasts of Belize, El Salvador, and Panama, are mostly exported to the United States. Since the mid-1960s Panama has developed a fish-meal and fish-oil industry. Central America has a low rate of per capita fish consumption.

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