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Manitoba: Economy

Manitoba's early provincial economy was based on agriculture, with manufacturing and transportation later becoming vital sectors. Manitoba now has a diversified economy; with the services sector the most important. Manufacturing is the largest goods-producing economic sector. Food and transportation equipment have long been the leading manufacturing industries. Other important industries are primary and fabricated metals, electrical goods, clothing and textiles, printing and publishing.

Agriculture has been Manitoba's most important industries since the Selkirk settlers established the first major farming operations in 1812. Total land farmed in 1996 was 19.1 million acres. Despite the dominance of grain production, agriculture in Manitoba is more diversified than in other Prairie Provinces with increased hog production leading the way.

The central location of the province makes Manitoba an attractive base for a wide variety of services, notably in transportation and wholesale distribution. Known as a railway 'hub' Winnipeg dominates Manitoba's economy. Most manufacturing is centred in the city. The first large scale manufacturing operations were developed here around 1900. Meat packing plants, clothing factories, lumber mills, metal-working and machine shops were built, to supply demand from all over Western Canada. By 1996 over 1500 manufacturers employed 61,700 people and produced goods valued at approximately $9.08 billion. The most important industries are food, machinery, primary metal and metal fabricating, transportation equipment and clothing, which together produce about 2/3 of all manufacturing output and employment in Manitoba.

Almost 50.8% (33,075,198 ha.) of Manitoba's total area is officially classified as non-productive forestland. The publicly owned provincial forest, contains 21,995 square kilometres. The forest industry directly employed approximately 8,700 people in 1996, harvesting a total of 2.15 million cubic metres of wood.

Mineral production in Manitoba was valued at an estimated $1.02 billion in1996. The most important metals are nickel (of which the province is a world leader in production), copper and zinc. Manitoba also produces petroleum and a number of industrial minerals. Metals accounted for just over 82% of the total value of mineral production followed by industrial minerals (7%) and petroleum (11%).


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