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Coffee plantations in Hawaii
Banana plantation in Costa Rica

A plantation ( French plantation , planting ' ) is a large forest or agricultural company that specializes in the production of an agricultural product ( monoculture ) for the world market .


Typical products from plantations are perennial plants or permanent crops such as cotton , dessert bananas , wood , coffee , cocoa , natural rubber , fruit , palm oil , sisal , tea and sugar cane , but also annual plants such as tobacco and some types of cotton. A plantation often includes complex facilities in which the product is preprocessed . In addition to the tropics , plantations are also cultivated in Mediterranean areas such as the European Mediterranean , California and South Africa .

The owner of a plantation is called a planter .


The word plantation (literally "planting cuttings", French plantes ) was borrowed from French into Dutch and German in the 17th century, but is now a false friend . The term plantation as a large planting corresponds in today's French as well as in English plantation (literally "planting of cuttings").

Men, women and children as slaves in forced labor in a sugar cane -Plantage on Cuba .
Collotype - stereoscopy as postcard no. 669 from Knackstedt & Näther .

Since the 7th century, the first highly specialized plantation economy for the production of luxury fruits had developed in Mesopotamia in the wetlands of the Euphrates , with the use of African slaves, the zanj , who first had to dry up the swamps. The income from long-distance trade for sugar, cotton, dates and cloves contributed to the flourishing of the Islamic metropolises in Asia and Egypt. For example, all sugar consumed as an expensive luxury in Christian Europe was imported from the Arab world in the Middle Ages.

The workers on the plantations were to the 19th century often slaves  - so on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean and Latin America , and later on the cotton - and tobacco plantations of the American South  - that had been brought from Africa since the native Indian population through the Spanish system of " Repartimiento " was almost completely decimated. The descendants of these (freed) slaves now represent a large part of the population of these regions.

After the liberation of slaves , the former slaves mostly became low-wage workers , and the working conditions remained essentially unchanged. In the rubber plantations of Malaysia and the tea plantations of Sri Lanka , cheap labor from India or China was often used .

The plantations experienced their best-known expansion with the emergence of the European colonial empires , when, from 1860, extensive new plantations were created in Africa and Asia : sugar in Natal ( South Africa ), tobacco in Sumatra , rubber in Malaya and Cochinchina (South Vietnam), but also tea in Ceylon . The plantations were often owned by foreigners, and not infrequently also by corporations , who had the business run by an administrator. The owners or their officers were among the top social class , while the plantation workers were among the lowest. The colonial plantation was a phenomenon of global capitalism that was almost exclusively found in tropical countries. Around 1900 a wave of such plantations was established in Africa and Southeast Asia.

After the independence of the former colonies , most of the foreign owners of the plantations were expropriated and replaced by locals or the state.

See also


  • Philip D. Curtin: The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History. Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-521-62943-8 .
  • Phil West: Growing Plantation Forests. Springer, 2006, ISBN 3-540-32478-X .
  • Oliver Gliech: Saint-Domingue and the French Revolution. The end of white rule in a Caribbean plantation economy. Böhlau-Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-412-20679-6 .
  • P. Savill, J. Evans, D. Auclair, J. Falk: Plantation Silviculture in Europe. Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-19-854908-3 .
  • Karl H Hottes: The plantation economy in the world economy. Innovative strength and today's structures of the plantation system. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-631-44606-3 .
  • Jonathan C. Onyekwelu: Growth Characteristics and Management Scenarios for plantation-grown Gmelina arborea and Nauclea diderrichii in south-western Nigeria. Hieronymus, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-89791-235-X .
  • RA Sedjo, D. Botkin: Using forest plantations to spare natural forests. In: Environment. 39 (10), 1997, pp. 15-20, 30.
  • F. Montagnini, CF Jordan: Tropical Forest Ecology. The Basis for Conservation and Management. (= Tropical Forestry ). Springer, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-540-23797-6 .
  • JR Aldhous, AJ Low: The potential of Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, Grand Fir and Noble Fir in Britain. (= Forestry Commission bulletin. 49). London 1974, ISBN 0-11-710141-9 .
  • JE Everard, DF Fourt: Monterey Pine and Bishop Pine as plantation trees in southern Britain. In: Quarterly Journal of Forestry. 68, 1974, pp. 111-125.

Web links

Commons : Plantations  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Plantation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Jacques Heers: Les négriers de terres d'Islam. La première traite des noirs. VIIe – XVIe siècle. Perrin, Paris 2007, p. 227 f.
  2. Jürgen Osterhammel: The transformation of the world. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 971.
  3. Jürgen Osterhammel: The transformation of the world. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 971 f.