How to make people happy and make money?

Ola El Presidente! I am so glad you decided to make the most out of your Tropical island.

In Tropico 5 El Presidente has to to provide for his people. Everyone wants a safe neighborhood (police), healthcare (clinics), entertainment, awesome housing, food, etc. However, the happier your make your people, the higher the bill for El presidente! Eventually, especially if you listen to Penultimo,  you will find yourself in a situation where you are no longer making a decent profit. We can fix this by choosing the “best” workplaces. Try to avoid the industries with low profits and high number of workers.

Guide concepts

  • Yearly profit: In Tropico 5 the in-game profit are only reported on a monthly basis. A yearly overview allows for much better comparison!
  • Income per worker: People are an important resource in Tropico 5! You will always have a limited workforce, especially educated workers. Each inhabitant requires you to invest in safety, healthcare, food, housing,etc. So you better make sure that your workers are earning the most money they can!
  • ROI: The ROI stands for Return on Investment. Meaning the time it takes to earn back your initial investment. For example, if you spend 10.000 and receive 1000 each month it would take 10 months to cover your expenses. After the 10th month you start creating value.


type cost workers profit yearly per worker ROI (months)
Lumber Mill  $       7.500 8  $            381  $           4.572  $               572 20
Cigar factory  $     12.000 14  $            950  $         11.400  $               814 13
Textile mill  $     13.200 12  $        1.242  $         14.904  $           1.242 11
Rum distillery  $     16.500 8  $            940  $         11.280  $           1.410 18
Steel mill  $       9.700 8  $        1.749  $         20.988  $           2.624 6
Jewelry workshop  $       9.000 4  $        1.100  $         13.200  $           3.300 8
Cannery  $       9.300 10  $            520  $           6.240  $               624 18
Furniture factory  $     14.000 6  $            761  $           9.132  $           1.522 18
Pharmaceutical company  $     20.000 6  $            950  $         11.400  $           1.900 21
Vehicle factory  $     25.000 10  $        3.423  $         41.076  $           4.108 7

Colonial era: This era only has the Lumber Mill that employs 8 illiterate workers. Takes a while to earn itself back so not really recommended. The biggest downside is that your logs will start to pile up in the Lumber Mill. So instead of having a steady export income from 2-3 logging camps you will have to wait till they are ALL converted into planks.

World War era: If you want your economy to grow quickly then you should go for the textile mill. In the end the Rum Distillery will earn more for each worker and is easier to operate at 100% because it requires only 8 workers. Furthermore its job quality level is higher. The Cigar Factory does not seem that interesting. It requires a LOT of workers to operate at 100% efficiency and the income per worker is not that great. Once you get your research going you should focus on getting the Steel Mill. If you build  a college you can build a Jewelry workshop but keep in mind that it stores very expensive gold as input. So that is a risk.

Cold War era: Vehicle factories are your best friend. They require steel and bauxite as imports. If needed just import them with docks. Their amazing profit gets even more amazing when you reduce the number of workers by 6 with the Robotics upgrade. Pharmaceutical companies earn a decent income but require college workers, and lots of them. So unless you have a highly educated workforce you might not want to build too many of these. The Furniture factory is underpowered, there are World War Era industries that do much better. Penultimo does not approve…


Mines and other raw materials

In Tropico 5 mines are completely changed compared to Tropico 3 and 4. They can now only build on mountain deposits. So you can only build one on a specific spot. After the resources are depleted the mine is automatically destroyed and the mining spot is removed. So how efficient are they in providing El presidente with some cash?

type cost workers profit yearly per worker ROI (months)
Coal mine $2500 5  $        115  $   1.380  $            276 25
Logging Camp Reforestation $1800 6  $        142  $   1.707  $            285 13
Logging Camp $800 6  $        182  $   2.187  $            365 4
Iron mine $2500 5  $        275  $   3.300  $            660 12
Bauxite mine $2500 5  $        320  $   3.840  $            768 8
Gold mine $2500 5  $        365  $   4.380  $            876 7

In the Tropico 5 campaign you will generally you will start with Iron or Bauxite deposits available. The income generated is pretty decent. However, compared to Tropico 3 and 4 they are less effective. The “best” mine only generates a yearly profit of $4380.  Still an Iron mine will generate a profit of $660 per worker. This is similar to the Lumber Mill making the mine a decent early game investment!

Keep in mind that the Coal mine offers a very low profit for each worker. Therefore I recommend importing coal from a trade route.

Automated Mines

In the Cold War era you unlock Automated Mines. These new mines cost $10.152 to construct, produce more, and require less workers. They do need high school education to operate the machinery.

Type Profit Yearly per worker ROI (months)
Coal $207 $2.483 $497 49
Iron $458 $5.490 $1.098 22
Bauxite $564 $6.768 $1.354 18
Gold $655 $7.860 $1.572 15

Looking at the ROI we can conclude that the new mines are not big money makers. It takes over a year to earn back your investment. They are however a smart investment to increase your income per employee. The iron mine now provides almost $1100 for each worker. Not only is this double the ammount of the original mine, it is also higher than almost any building from the World War era!


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  • Basti


    i really like your guides, found them on steam and now i landed here 🙂

    Please make more Tropical 5 guides.

    I started playing yesterday so it was very helpfull to read about the industries
    and resources.

    Thanks for that.

    Hopefully there comes more.


    PS: No, im not fake, but thats my mail 🙂

    • Magistar

      Glad you like then :).

      Are there any specific topics you would like to know more about?

      • kmttr

        Any reason you left out the Chocolate factory?

  • Al

    Hey thanks for making these guides. I was wondering if college or high school educated citizens fill in illiterate jobs if there all high school or college required jobs are full?

    • Magistar

      Yes they do:). But generally Tropicans only go to school when there is a job opening in the appropriate category. So if you have like 30 high school jobs open then you will see 30 tropicans going to school.

      • Al

        Thanks! Also I was wondering how profitable are oil wells and refineries?

        • Sebastiaan de Kooter

          I will add them later :).

  • Perhaps they have tweaked things since you made this guide, but I work out that the lumber mill is actually a decent investment. Here is my working out, in case I am mistaken! I got a similar result for the logging camp, so I must be using the same equations as you. Prices and Costs seem to vary a little, so that could account for it. The following is from a sandbox colonial era game:

    Outlay $7500, Budget 155, workers 8, price of planks $1.5 , monthly production 600.

    profit per month = (1500/1000)*600-155 = $745,
    profit per worker (12 months) 745/8*12 = $1117.5,
    ROI = 7500/745 = 10 months.

    • Sebastiaan de Kooter

      Thank you for your comment.

      The discrepancy is explained by the input cost of the logs. Plantations and Mines have no input cost. Industries do.

      For example, look at a Vehicle factory where the in-game value reports a profit of 3416. It is producing 400 cars of 12.000 each. Meaning $4800 income. Its budget is only $250. So a profit of $4550 right?

      Nope, you are forgetting the cost to make the car; Steel and Bauxite! It uses 200 Steel for $3967 and 200 Bauxite for $1700.

      Now the profit calculation is: $4800 – $250 (budget) – $793,4 (steel) – $340 (bauxite) = 3416,6. Which is exactly the value the game is reporting.

      In your Lumber Mill you would need 600 logs which each cost $600, meaning a total cost of $360. So you end up with a profit of $385 which is approximately the same as the one reported in my graph :).

      • That makes a lot of sense, thanks!

        • Sebastiaan de Kooter

          Your welcome :).

  • “Keep in mind that the Coal mine offers a very low profit for each worker. Therefore I recommend importing coal from a trade route.”

    would you recommend to not the coal mine or use the trade route as an extra ?

    thanks a lot 🙂

    • Sebastiaan de Kooter

      I prefer not to build it unless I have unemployement at uneducated Tropicans. You can have one factory rely on one coal trade route for input. Dont forget about the Drydock upgrades (!).