Learn about the history of cotton on World Cotton Day (7 October)

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Cotton is one of the most common textile fibers in our lives today. Cotton is comfortable, and durable.

But cotton is more than just a commodity. This natural textile is a life-changing product worldwide that supports 32 million producers (almost half of them women) and benefits more than 100 million families in 80 countries across 5 continents.

To underline the importance of cotton, World Cotton Day is celebrated every year on 7 October.

History of cotton

Cotton’s journey began thousands of years ago in the Indus Valley of modern India and Pakistan. Cotton seeds dating back to 4500 BC have been discovered, revealing its early importance in textile production. From there, cotton cultivation spread around the world, reaching Egypt, China, and the Americas.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, cotton production and the cotton trade boomed, especially in the American South. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 revolutionized the industry, making cotton processing faster and more efficient. However, the cotton industry was tainted by the exploitation of enslaved Africans, making it a symbol of the dark legacy of slavery in the United States.

Global impact of cotton

Cotton has left an indelible mark on the world’s economy and culture. Here are some of its most notable contributions.


Cotton is the primary ingredient in most garments, from T-shirts to denim jeans. Its comfortable properties make it a popular choice for clothing.


Cotton is an important cash crop and a source of income for millions of farmers around the world. The cotton industry also supports many downstream jobs, from textiles to fashion.


The global cotton trade is extensive, involving many countries from the United States to India and China. Export and import of cotton contributes to international trade and economic growth.


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