Agriculture, fishing, shipbuilding and the food-processing industry are the historical foundations for the département's economy. But the service sectors and tourism now employa large majority of the active population.
AGRICULTURE AND FISHING
Loire-Atlantique has 11,000 farming businesses, two thirds of which concentrate on animal rearing.
The Loire valley is home to a large market gardening sector (responsible for 85% of France's production of Iily of the valley, 80% of leek production, 75% of corn salad and 75% of turnips).
Another important product from the banks of the Loire is wine (700,000 hl of muscadet, 200,000 hl of Gros-Plant and of Coteau d'Ancenis).
The activities of fishing and salt extraction developed here in the 6th millennium Be.
The département now has 350 fishing boats. La Turballe is the leading sardine port on the Atlantic. In the salt marshes, 10,000 tonnes of Guérande salt are produced every year.
THE SECONDARY SECTOR: SHIPBUILDING AND THE FOOD-PROCESSING INDUSTRY
Loire-Atlantique is one of France's most industrialised départements: the Chantiers de l'Atlantique is one of the world's leading cruise ship builders. The département is also the second-Iargest French aeronautical centre.
Thanks to its history of maritime trade, which led to requirements for the conservation of biscuits and fresh produce, LOire-Atlantique is also the French leader in food processing, housing groups such as Eurial, LU, BN, Saupiquet and BéghinSay.
THE TERTIARY SECTOR : SERVICES AND TOURISM
The tertiary sector employs 70% of the active population. Nantes is the third-Iargest financial centre in France.
In the field of transport, Nantes-Saint-Nazaire is the primary port on Europe's Atlantic coast and the fourth-Iargest port in the country, with annual traffic of over 30 million tonnes.
Loire-Atlantique is sixth on the list of French tourist destinations, with over a million tourists per year. Traditional maritime tourism is now complemented by "green" tourism, river tourism and industrial tourism.