Mining has been historically critical to Nova Scotia. Coal was extracted principally in the Sydney–Glace Bay area of Cape Breton Island, but the mines closed in 2001. Gypsum, barite, and salt are mined. The decline of mining has increased the importance of fishing to Nova Scotia. Fleets operate on the continental shelf, especially on the Grand Banks, and farther out to sea, although years of overfishing have now led to serious cutbacks in production. Lobster, scallops, and haddock are the biggest catches. Offshore deposits of natural gas have begun to be exploited. Inland, the forests yield spruce lumber, and the province's industries produce much pulp and paper. In the northwest there is dairying, the most important sector of Nova Scotia's agricultural economy, and the region of Annapolis and Cornwallis contains valuable apple orchards. There are also significant hay, grain, fruit, and vegetable crops. The bay lowlands, reclaimed by dikes in the 17th cent., are very productive.
Manufacturing is the largest sector of Nova Scotia's economy. In addition to the iron and steel produced at Sydney, the province's manufactures include processed food (especially fish), automobiles, tires, sugar, and construction materials. In addition to its all-year port facilities, Halifax is a railroad terminus. There are both hydroelectric and tidal (at Annapolis Royal) power-generating plants. Coast, countryside, and historical sites attract tourists.
Educational institutions include Acadia Univ., at Wolfville; Dalhousie Univ., Mount St. Vincent Univ., St. Mary's Univ., the Technical Univ. of Nova Scotia, and the Univ. of King's College, all at Halifax; Sainte-Anne Univ., at Church Point; St. Francis Xavier Univ., at Antigonish; and the Univ. College of Cape Breton, at Sydney.