America's Economy

America is a very rich continent, although much of its resources remain untapped.

However, this wealth is unevenly distributed both within each country and across the continent.

The United States and Canada, for example, have an advanced and highly industrialized economy, while much of Latin America remains underdeveloped and commercially and financially dependent.

The United States, with enormous mineral and energy resources, specialized agriculture, refined technology and advanced industry, controls the world markets for important agricultural, mineral and industrialized products. Similarly, the "colossus of the north" exercises economic protection over many Latin American countries whose foreign trade is based on the exchange of raw materials (agricultural and minerals) for industrialized products.

Farming has similar levels of development in Canada and the United States, although production is much higher in Canada, due to both the temperate climate that dominates most of its territory and the quality of soils rich in organic matter, and the industrial character of the extensive and highly mechanized plantations.

Of particular note are large wheat plantations (which provide spring and winter crops), maize, cotton and, to a lesser extent, oats, barley, rice, pulses, flax, soybeans, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, etc.

Sheep and swine herds achieve high yields on US and Canadian farms, although the highest yields are from industrially reared cattle in southeastern Canada and the central, northwest, and southeastern United States. Forestry and fishing are also important sources of raw materials for both countries' industry and exports.

In Latin America, the profound distortions in the structure of agrarian property and outdated agricultural techniques are a serious obstacle to the development and diversification of agricultural activity, forcing almost all countries to import large quantities of food products.

Mexico, which exports cotton and sisal, produces large harvests of wheat, corn and other cereals. In Central America and the Caribbean islands there are large coffee, banana, sugar cane, cocoa, tobacco, flax, soy, cotton, and corn plantations.

Tropical and cereal crops also span vast regions of Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, while livestock, particularly cattle, sheep and horses, has developed greatly in the fields of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay. Cereal crops in southern Brazil and Argentina are among the most important in the world.