[bred-bas-kit, -bah-skit]

The Breadbasket of a country is a region which, because of richness of soil or advantageous climate, produces an agricultural surplus which is often considered vital for the country as a whole. A similar term is the Granary of a given country. As such the ownership of such regions are historically the subject of fierce military disputes.

Regional breadbaskets/granaries

Classical antiquity

Sicilia and Africa were considered the breadbaskets of the Roman Republic. Later on Egypt was considered the breadbasket of the Roman Empire.


Zimbabwe was called the breadbasket of Africa until the Land reform in Zimbabwe.


Around the 1970's, Alentejo was considered the breadbasket of Portugal.


The Punjab region is considered the breadbasket of India and Pakistan.


During Tsarist times the Ukrainian provinces of the Russian Empire were referred to as the Empire's breadbasket. During the Soviet era, the mantle passed to the Ukrainian SSR.

There is also the Central Black Earth Region within Russia proper.


The Murray-Darling Basin is seen as Australia's breadbasket, being the source of 40% of the nation's agricultural income, a third of the wheat harvest, 95% of the rice crop and other products such as fruit, wine and cotton.

New Zealand

When New Zealand became a British colony, the fertile lands produced food that would be shipped back to England, causing New Zealand to become colloquially known (occasionally along with Australia) as 'Britain's Breadbasket', subsequently leading to the Dunedin being the first ship to complete a truly successful transport of refrigerated meat, she was refitted with a refrigeration machine with which she took the first load of frozen meat from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.

North America

North America's Great Plains are a common breadbasket shared between Canada and the United States.


In Canada the grain-growing areas are also called the Canadian prairies. Sometimes the province of Saskatchewan is further singled out from within this region as the main "Breadbasket" of Canada.

United States

In the US, this region is called the Grain Belt.

Studies on regionalism

This region also shares some cultural and political traits which lead the authors of two books on regionalism in North America to argue that they form a separate "nation."

In the book Nine Nations of North America, author Joel Garreau identifies the "Breadbasket" as one of nine cultural "nations" in North America.

In the book The Day America Told The Truth by James Patterson and Peter Kim, this region is called the Granary instead, but its boundaries are essentially the same as those Garreau drew for the Breadbasket.

Both books include western Indiana, northern and central Illinois except for the immediate Chicago metropolitan area, Wisconsin except for the Lake Michigan shoreline, the northern half of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas in their entirety, the easternmost tier of counties in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and northern New Mexico, the northern and western portions of Missouri and Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle.


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