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Litchee, Litchi chinensis / Sapindaceae
Litchees are native to the province of Canton, in the subtropical area of South China. It is known since 2000 B.C., although the first written reference is from 1000 B.C., during the dynasty Han. The first references in the western world come from Juan González Mendoza, the writer and monk who Felipe II sent to China in the XVIth century.

In 1883 this fruit was introduced in the United States, and from the second half of the XXth century it was gradually introduced to Brazil, Honduras, the Antilles, Hawaii, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and Madagascar.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) gathers the production and export data of different tropical fruit, among which we find carambola, cherimoya, litchee, feijoa, guava, mangosteen, passion fruit, rambutan, sapote, etc.

The continent with greater production of tropical fruit is Asia, amounting 83% of the total production. A small amount of the production belongs to South America, whereas in the rest of the world the production is scarce:

ContinentTons%
Africa406,2703
Asia12,736,17383
Europe25,000-
North America366,3902
South America1,766,65012
Oceania30,826-
Total15,331,309100

Tropical fruit
Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

The main producing countries are the Asian: India, the Philippines, Indonesia and China. Some of the South American countries do also appear among the 10 main producing countries.

CountryTons
India3,700,000
The Philippines3,600,000
Indonesia2,000,000
China1,675,192
Colombia1,120,000
Thailand704,000
Pakistan468,500
Brazil335,000
Bangladesh267,000
Peru253,179

Tropical fruit
Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

The main export country is Malaysia, followed by the United States and Kenya. The following table shows the 10 main countries of tropical fruit export:

CountryTons
Malaysia52,412
The United States28,269
Kenya10,592
Thailand5,542
Indonesia4,794
Egypt4,081
Madagascar3,642
Yemen2,953
China2,914
Australia2,897

Tropical fruit
Source: FAO Trade Yearbook, 2000
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