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French Guiana, Economy and Government

The extensive forests of French Guiana, covering more than four-fifths of the entire land surface, are rich in timber of commercial importance. Less than 1 percent of the land is devoted to agriculture. The principal food crops are corn, rice, cassava, pineapples, yams, and bananas. Sugarcane is the only significant cash crop. Fishing is of growing importance; the catch is largely shrimp, which is exported. Placer mining for gold is undertaken, and commercial reserves of bauxite, clay, and cinnabar also exist. Industrial establishments are small and include sawmills, rum distilleries, potteries, and brick and dye works. A satellite launching base (established 1968) is located at Kourou. The chief imports are foodstuffs, refined petroleum, cement, metals, and machinery. Articles of export include commercial woods, rosewood essence, gold, shrimp, rice, bananas, cacao, rum, and mounted butterflies. The unit of currency is the French franc (5.90 francs equal U.S. $1; 1998).

 
 

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