naval construction, ship construction, citrus fruits, foreign markets, rabbits
Manufacturing for export, ship construction and repair, and tourism are Malta’s chief industries. Major manufactures include processed food and beverages, textiles and clothing, furniture and wood products, printing and publishing, tobacco products, transportation equipment (especially ships), machinery, rubber and plastic goods, and chemicals. Tourism is increasingly important; the country had 1.2 million visitors in 2000. Shipping-related industries are vital to Malta’s economy. These industries include shipbuilding facilities, naval construction and repair facilities, and transshipment centers.
Most of Malta’s agricultural products are cultivated on small terraced slopes. The principal crops include potatoes, tomatoes, melons, wheat, and citrus fruits. Some poultry, rabbits, cattle, goats, and sheep are raised. Because the population is dense and the soil is poor, Malta must import most of its food. Just 3 percent of the labor force is employed in the agricultural sector.
In 2000 Malta’s gross domestic product was $3.6 billion. In 2000 exports earned $2.3 billion, and imports cost $3.4 billion. Malta’s trade deficit makes the country highly dependent on foreign markets and services. Principal exports include clothing, transportation equipment, basic manufactures, and machinery; and principal imports are machinery, textiles, chemicals, raw materials, fuels, and food. The chief purchasers of Malta’s exports are France, the United States, Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom; leading sources of imports are Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. The currency of Malta is the Maltese lira, consisting of 100 cents (0.44 lira equal U.S.$1; 2000 average).
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