Aug 15, 2011

Long history of cotton production

The long history of cotton production reaches back at least 7000 years to the Indus Valley which encompasses part of northern India and most of modern-day Pakistan. The shrub-like cotton plant, which is related to hibiscus, was an important agricultural crop in the Indus Valley and was woven into cotton fabric. An early Greek traveler to India described the cotton plant as giving "wool" instead of fruit. Cotton textiles and seeds from India were traded in both the Middle East and Far East during the first millenium A.D.. Cotton production was known world-wide by the Middle Ages.

During most of the 18th century, the textile manufacturers in Europe imported fine cotton from Egypt. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793, enabled greatly increased production in the United States. By the early 19th century, the American south was the primary supplier of cotton to to the world which brought prosperity to the entire country.  Although the American Civil War disrupted worldwide cotton manufacturing, the American dominance was re-established after 1865.
Most of the 19th century French textiles were likely manufactured from American-grown cotton.
From about 1800 until the start of WWII, the United States was the leading producer of cotton worldwide. Cotton is now grown in 90 countries, although approximately 75% of production is from the United States, China, Pakistan and India.