Tropico 5: Getting Your Economy Started

The Tropico 5 economy is simpler that you think

The Economy Takes Care of ItselfTropico 5 doesn't do a good job of explaining how your economy works, even in the tutorial. After a few play-throughs, I hope to fix that for you. The first part that Tropico 5 should explain is that your economy takes care of itself, sort of. Everything your island produces, but doesn't use, gets shipped out at regular prices. What are the regular prices, you ask?The trade screen has your answer. If you do nothing, send no ships, make no contracts, you will sell your bananas for $800 per 1,000 units shipped from your docks. You will find this under "Default Price." Unfortunately, there is no index of prices for goods that you do not have a contract available for, so you will need to keep an eye out for good deals. For instance, Gold, Tobacco, and Cocoa are all great early game exports even if you don't have a contract. Uranium, Oil and Bauxite will become much more useful in the late game, so don't exploit them too early.Build an Extra DockOne of the best exploits of the game can be buying cheap and selling high. Sounds obvious enough, but with Tropico, you will need the contracts to pull this off. Two solid ways to gain lots of contracts early on in the game will be buying the "platinum" deal from Oaksworth and Buying a lighthouse. I don't suggest both, but at least one. If you do both, you should be able to exploit what you can see in the screenshot above. The regular shipping price for bananas is $800 with no contract, but the Pirates are offering to sell them to you for $640. The smugglers are wanting to buy bananas for $1080.You'll need a second dock so that you have two ships for this. All you have to do is have one ship bring the cheap bananas in and the next ship bring them right back out again in order to make a sweet $440 per 1,000 profit. This isn't the best way to make money, but it's a solid way to set up your shipping contracts while you work on building support for your regime. You could build several docks and assign multiple ships to import and export this deal. The only downside to dealing with the cheap prices from the pirates is losing reputation with the Crown. If you can make it to independence quickly, that won't be much of a concern. Also, using an import/export strategy can cause your cash total to bounce up and down unexpectedly. You'll make plenty of money, but it might be used to pay for an import shipment right when you need it.Just Produce, the Ships Will ShipAn easy way to look at the economy in Tropico is to produce whatever you want your economy to produce. Build several Cocoa or Tobacco plantations early on in the game and let them ship out each time a boat shows up. It's unlikely you can fill and entire trade ship in the colonial era, so the only reason to build extra docks is to have extra ships for trade routes. Once you've gotten your main export under control, you can spend more time focusing on your islands happiness and housing situations.For a more detailed look at building your economy, check out my tutorial video below! 

Columnist

While I do play some of the greats like Civilization and X-com, consider me your Tabletop guru here at gameskinny. Want to know about a tabletop game? Just ask!

Games Tropico 5 Genres SimulationStrategy Platforms PC Tags guide
Source tropico5.com
Published Jun. 3rd 2014
  • Tom _6067
    I'm fairly new to this addictive game but I'm confused about the rewards between cash reward ($2000, etc.) or a new trade route with Smugglers/Revolutionaries. If I choose to accept the trade route reward, will it automatically do the trading for me or will it just give me a new route which I will have to dedicate one of my dock ships to it. Hope you understand my Q.
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    It adds a trade route to the trade offer screen. It will have the smuggler flag (green background with coins) and probably be a significantly better offer than anything else you'll find. Remember, if you only have one boat at the time, you can leave one offer to pick up the new one and then add a ship back to the old offer when you can build another dock (as long as the time doesn't expire on the trade agreement).
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    I don't normally care for the extra trade routes, either, because they aren't guaranteed to be a resource you even have available at the time.
  • Shad_3019
    Is there a way to see the wealth distribution in the game? e.g how many are poor, rich etc
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    Go to the "people" tab on the info sheet. Scroll down and you'll see "wealth" Click on it and you'll see the wealth distribution of your people. I wondered the same thing, but never went looking for it until you asked.
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    I havent noticed one. The contract will eventually time out. I've used this to start a contract when I don't have the product, but I know I will soon. Then I can 'reclaim' the contract and start shipping.
  • Heathyr_9781
    Is there any consequence to removing ships from established trade routes to assign them to new ones?
  • Efrain E. Ramirez
    Hello again, I am having trouble with immigration is there a way to control the incoming of immigrants? I am going cruazy with this!!!
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    I'm exploring it right now. I think the only way to limit incoming is to select Visa Program or Guarded Heaven in your constitution. If your happiness is low you might drive off a few people. Using "Provoke the Rebels" will help you kill off some of the less desirables without building social unrest.
  • Efrain E. Ramirez
    thank you for your help. Very easy instructions and advise to follow.
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    Thanks! If there's any additional topics worth tackling, let me know.
  • Scott Broadbent
    I'm surprised this wasn't corrected: You can check the prices for any goods that you are producing or importing, whether there is a valid contract or not.

    On the Economy Tab in the Almanac there is Resource Overview entry. Click on it to see all the resources you are producing, how much is being produced/consumed/exported/imported and what the value of the goods are per 1000 units.

    This screen is great to see if over the period of time it's reporting whether you should build another Factory to produce higher value goods. For example, if it's showing that I'm producing 12,000 units of Sugar, Consuming 4,000 units of Sugar and exporting 8,000 units of Sugar, I know that I can build another Rum Distillery to increase my profits.

    In most cases, the numbers should match up, but not always. Sometimes it'll tell you that it exported more than you produced, but all that likely meant is that the docks had a backlog of the resource so when the next ship came in shipped off more than what was produced over the period of time. My guess is that the screen shows numbers for the last 12 months, although it shouldn't be hard to figure out exactly what time period it is reporting.
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    Thanks. I suspect this might have been in an update I didn't catch.
  • mohd samgan khan
    adding information to the topic
    Tropico 5 has been released for the Linux and MAC platform.
    for mare details over the release you may have a look..
    http://optinux.com/linux-gaming-tropico-5-released-maclinux/
  • Clay
    Featured Contributor
    Exports are pretty automatic until you get into the higher populations and progress through the eras where your economy transitions from illiterate to high school/college and you can no longer maintain a raw resource economy. The markup from raw to production is significantly bigger than trying to profit on raw resource exports. I like the trade ship mechanic but it gets tedious once you're 1000+ pop and in modern times.

    Even with 10 trade ships at one point importing logs monthly it still wasn't enough to keep up with 4 plank factories. Whereas in Tropico 4 I could just set to "allow imports" and it would import as much as it needs. The trade mechanic kinda goes out the window when I have all my ships feeding into just one set of production buildings.

    It just made a lot more sense down the road to transition to banks/offices/pharmaceuticals than dealing with trying to import raw materials. They should buff the capacity of trade ships or set how much to import per ship since relying on trade to build an economy is a bit half-assed.
  • Landon Sommer
    Columnist
    I agree. I was actually surprised that Pharmaceuticals didn't require a huge input to get rolling and Cold Wars try to push you towards Tourism as a major source of income. College education can backfire when none of them will work lower education jobs.

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