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According to a classification of the UN, the Maldives were among the poorest countries in the world a few years ago, even though the Maldives had statistically considered one of the highest per capita income of Asia (USD 4'212 in 2009). Over the last years the per capita income has rised steadily and today, as per UN criteria, the Maldives belong to the "Upper Middle-Income-Countries". Tourism is the largest economic sector in the country. It contributes about 30% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and provides more than 60% of foreign exchange earnings. Over 90% of the tax and customs revenues are tourism related. Unfortunately, few Maldivians directly benefit, since the majority of foreign investors and tenant companies. Just as many of the better jobs in hotel management or lack of qualified local construction workers are occupied by foreigners. Including many foreign employees come to the islands tourists from other countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The second biggest industry is fishing (about 11% of the workforce). Each year about 105,000 tonnes of fish caught, of which the tuna represent about 90%, which are frozen or canned exported worldwide.
Because of the sandy soils, agriculture plays a minor role, it will be sorghum, planted corn, sweet potatoes and sugar cane. Rice is imported. The most important crop for export is the coconut palm, are extracted from the copra, coconut fiber and coconut oil.