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Caribbean Islands Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands


The economy underwent a substantial transformation in the twentieth century as tourism replaced sugar as the principal earner of foreign exchange and the primary source of employment. Like the previously dominant sugar industry, tourism was controlled primarily by foreign capital. This control was in part the result of insufficient domestic capital, the local upper class having made more of its investments in commerce than in entrepreneurship. In an attempt to fill the local void, the government established state enterprises. Their specific purpose was to develop areas where foreigners were hesitant to invest, such as infrastructure or the faltering sugar industry, or to create domestic competition with foreign-owned enterprises, such as those in the tourist industry. The other major sectors of the economy, especially agriculture, were not strong enough to support the tourist industry; as a consequence, many items had to be imported.

Data as of November 1987