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British Columbia: Economy

Founded on the fur trade and later on gold, the dwindling riches of the sea and land remain key to British Columbia's economy. The economy remains based on the province's great natural resources, primarily its vast forests, which cover 56 percent of its total area. Conifers from these forests are converted into lumber, newsprint, pulp and paper products, shingles and shakes - about half the total softwood inventory of Canada.

During the first half of the 20th century British Columbia's economy expanded considerably, but the province's greatest period of development followed World War II. In the 1960's British Columbia's hydroelectric power and industrial capacity was greatly increased with the signing of the Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada. Economic and population growth in British Columbia continued strong into the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Tourism is an important economic sector in British Columbia. . With over five million hectares of parkland, the Rocky Mountains remain the biggest attraction. Coastal B.C., with its beaches, and other attractions, is also popular. Each year, about 15 million people visit British Columbia.

Mining is the province's third most important economic sector. Copper, gold and zinc are the leading metals extracted from B.C. The most valuable resources, however, are coal, petroleum and natural gas.

Agriculture and fishing, especially salmon fishing, are two other key sectors of the economy of British Columbia. Manufacturing in B.C. is still largely resource-based, but is being gradually diversified by high-tech and computer-based industries related to telecommunications and the aerospace and sub-sea industries. British Columbia has the most balanced export market of all Canada's provinces, with the United States, Japan, the European Union and the Pacific Rim countries as its clientele.

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