Plantations are large commercial farms that typically grow a singular crop. Examples of common plantation crops include sugar cane, coffee, tea, tobacco, oil palm and rubber.
Plantations are found in climates that are warm and receive high levels of rainfall. They can range in size from a few acres to thousands of acres.
Plantations require a lot of capital to establish. Owners must buy machinery, create roads and build factories to process and package crops. Additional costs include fertilizers, pesticides and hired labor.
The earliest plantations produced wine and olive oil for export for the Roman Empire. As international trade and a global economy became more widely accessible, plantation farming became more popular because of its ability to produce large quantities.
Historically, plantation culture has been associated with wealth, political influence and slavery. Plantations were established in the American South during the early seventeenth century, producing a great deal of indigenous American tobacco and cotton. Farmers also experimented with raising crops of rice and indigo. By the eighteenth century, most southern plantation owners replaced indentured servants with African slaves for free labor. The culture of slavery led to the American Civil War. When slavery ended in 1865, many freed slaves returned to the plantations to work as tenant farmers and sharecroppers.