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Patterns of Economic Development

Forestry and Fishing

Although the continent is 50 percent forested and is surrounded by seas rich in marine life, the forestry and fishing industries in most South American nations are small and oriented toward domestic markets. Some tropical hardwoods and softwoods are exported, however, much of the wood coming from the Amazon Basin, where large tracts of forest are being cleared for conversion into range and cropland. Also exported is pine lumber from southern Brazil and south central Chile, together with some pulpwood. Significant areas of commercial forest have been planted in Chile and Brazil. The widespread planting of eucalyptus trees for firewood, for timbering, and for use in rough construction has historically been important.

South America's most important commercial fisheries are the Pacific coastal waters. Large amounts of anchovies for fish meal are caught off the Peruvian and Chilean coasts, although overfishing has depleted recent harvests. Tuna are taken off the Ecuadorian and Peruvian coasts. Crustaceans are an important catch in Chilean, Brazilian, and Guianese waters.

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