In the first few campaign missions (and tutorials), you are encouraged to make your profits from exporting "cash crops" such as tobacco, sugar and coffee. These are all raw materials, which sell at a very low price even if they don't require any other materials to make. At one point in my second mission, some of those missions to export random stuff to random countries told me to export weapons. I realized eventually that weapons were not a material you could mine for, but rather a processed product of Iron. I built a weapons factory and since I already had an Iron mine I didn’t have to import anything. Soon I realized that weapon’s prices were huge in comparison to the tobacco I was exporting before that. And instead of exporting $10,000-$20,000 on each freighter, I was exporting easily $40,000+ on each freighter.

But as a new gamer to the Tropico series, I had a strict, dumb no-import policy. “Why pay China (or whoever else) to make something that you can make yourself?” was my reasoning. While I ended up with the same exports as if I had imported the cheap raw materials from other countries, I could’ve gotten my economy off the ground and soaring early and easily if I had founded my economy on just importing raw materials and processing them into expensive goods. There’s no doubt about it, processed goods are the way to go if you’re not going to be a tourist-based nation.

So to all you new players, remember; don’t sell tobacco or sugar, rather import those and make them into cigarettes and rum. While at first you economy will be unstable as you try to bring in resources w/o making any profits, it won’t be long before you’ve got $100,000 at your disposal. And to start, an easy way to get profits while you’re bringing in raw materials to process is building a salt mine, it sells higher than crops and its deposit won’t deplete like gold, iron and bauxite.

Another nice thing is that you won’t become dependent on anything with this system because soon you’ll have the money available to fund any other business such as tourism and raw materials exporting (I know I said not to, but people still do it). You’ll have enough money to satisfy your citizen’s needs, build a power plant to make better buildings such as hospitals instead of clinics. And whenever it seems like you’re running out of money, another freighter will arrive with a ton of money for you to improve your nation with.

So, “Alrite yoo noobs listen up” because I just told you the best way to start up a Tropico 4 sandbox game.