Cotton, a plant that yields the most important of all natural textile fibers. There are thousands of uses for cotton. A large part of the world's textile production is cloth made of cotton or blends of cotton and synthetic fibers. Cotton cloth is durable, easily laundered, and relatively inexpensive. The plant's seed provides edible vegetable oil and protein feed. Cotton also provides important raw materials for the chemical industry.
Cotton is one of the most important crops grown in the United States. Millions of people are supported directly and indirectly by the farms that grow it, the manufacturing concerns that process it, and the domestic and international marketing activities that distribute cotton products.
The world's leading cotton-producing countries and the leading cotton-producing states are shown in graphs later in this article. Most of the cotton produced in the United States comes from the Cotton Belt, a region about 2,300 miles (3,700 km) long and 700 miles (1,100 km) wide. It includes parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.