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Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today.Current estimates for world production are about 25 million tonnes or 110 million bales annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world's arable land.Cotton was grown upriver, made into nets, and traded with fishing villages along the coast for large supplies of fish.The Spanish who came to Mexico and Peru in the early 16th century found the people growing cotton and wearing clothing made of it.
Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds.
The spinning wheel, introduced to Europe circa 1350, improved the speed of cotton spinning.
Under the Mughal Empire, which ruled in the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th century to the early 18th century, Indian cotton production increased, in terms of both raw cotton and cotton textiles.
It clothed the people of ancient India, Egypt, and China.
Hundreds of years before the Christian era, cotton textiles were woven in India with matchless skill, and their use spread to the Mediterranean countries.
The Greeks and the Arabs were not familiar with cotton until the Wars of Alexander the Great, as his contemporary Megasthenes told Seleucus I Nicator of "there being trees on which wool grows" in "Indica".