Anguilla's unique climate made it impossible for early English colonists to cultivate the plantation lifestyle on the island. Therefore, Anguilla never fell in with one of the most popular economic trends in the Caribbean region of that time period: the growth and export of sugarcane. Currently, the island has followed many Caribbean islands by becoming increasingly dependent on tourism as a major source of income.
Anguilla economics began with the arrival of the the Arawak Indians, who came from South America to settle on the island. Most of the Arawak's economic endeavors consisted of self-sustaining farming to feed and clothe their families, as opposed to bartering and trade for profit. The Indians produced crops of cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes. British settlers made attempts at turning Anguilla into a plantation island, but the island's unpredictable rainfall, arid climate, and soil, which was a thin layer over a limestone base, was not conducive for big sugarcane plantations.
Going into the 1800's, Anguilla's economy was based on the cultivation of rum, sugar, cotton, indigo, fustic, and mahogany plantations. African slaves were brought to Anguilla to work on these farms, but the island could not sustain large-scale sugar plantations and other crops.
Soon the colonists found out that plantation farming was not very profitable on Anguilla, and most settlers abandoned the unprofitable plantations to make money on other islands in the Caribbean. The African slaves were left on the island, and some masters sold their land to slaves, who took up a peasant-like lifestyle on Anguilla. Those who remained on the island took up fishing and and other seafaring trades to make a living.
Today, Anguilla's economy has taken the same route as many other tropical islands: tourism. People from all over the world come to visit the region's beautiful beaches and other tourist attractions. Although Anguilla has several natural resources from which the island's economy makes some money, it relies heavily on income from luxury tourism.
Anguilla's other sources of income include offshore banking, lobster fishing, and contributions from emigrants to the island. In recent years, Anguillan officials have put a lot of effort into developing Anguilla's offshore financial sector, which has grown consistently. By diversifying its economy, Anguilla won't have to rely so heavily on one main source of income. A 2001 poll found that there were 6,049 people in the Anguillan labor force. Most of the island's workers are employed in the field of commerce (36 percent), with the service industry making up about 29 percent of the labor force. Other areas of the job force are the construction industry, which employs about 18 percent of the working islanders, transportation and utilities (about 10 percent), and agriculture, forestry, and mining (about 4 percent). Manufacturing makes up the rest of the island's job market.
The substantial growth of the tourism industry on Anguilla has caused a spark in the field of construction. New hotels and other tourist destinations are being built on the island, which means more work in the construction business. The overall impact of the ever-expanding tourism industry has been a positive one for Anguilla's economy.
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