Bananas grow in hot, tropical conditions typically within 20 degrees of the equator. As of 2014, bananas are grown in 107 countries around the globe. The largest producers of bananas in 2011 were India, China, the Philippines and Uganda, and the largest exporter was Ecuador. Exports from these markets are not widely sold in the United States. In the United States, Hawaii produces a small crop of bananas.
Bananas grow in clusters on large flowering plants. They are one of the most consumed foods in the world and produce a crop year-round, making them a valuable food source for many people around the world. Because they are present when other annual and semi-annual crops are not, bananas provide food security in these communities.
The Cavendish banana is the most widely sold banana and what most Americans would consider to be a typical banana. However, there are over 70 cultivars of bananas that range from sweet to starchy to ornamental. While some cultures and countries make a distinction between bananas and plantains, others do not. In these places, the different types of bananas are called cooking bananas and dessert bananas.
Banana cultivation can be traced to 5000 B.C. when they were first domesticated in Papua New Guinea.