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Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus / Cucurbitaceae
The watermelon was first cultivated in Africa, from where it spread to Europe, the Near East and India. Later on, it was introduced in China and America.

There are two hypotheses on the origin of watermelons. The first states that this species comes from wild populations of Africa, whereas different research claims that it is original from a species of Cucurbitaceae that grows wild in the valley of the Nile. It was first cultivated, most probably, in Africa, from where it spread to the Mediterranean, the Near East and India. There are few registries of this species until the XVIth century, but from that time onwards it begins to be popular. The watermelon was introduced in America with the conquest of the New World.

At present, Asia is the continent with a larger watermelon production, more than 80% of the world-wide production. Africa, Europe and North America have similar productions, around 3-4 million annual tons.

ContinentTons%
Africa3,149,7105
Asia51,833,54182
Europe3,786,8676
North America 2,994,2865
South America1,346,1642
Oceania 75,208-
Total63,185,776100

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

By countries, the main producer is China, meaning 60% of the total production. It is followed by Turkey, Iran, the United States and Egypt. The following table shows the 10 countries with larger watermelon cultivation.

CountryTons
China38,382,286
Turkey3,925,000
Iran2,300,000
The United States1,874,500
Egypt1,506,960
Mexico992,722
Korea936,658
Kazakstan901,600
Spain729,800
Greece650,000

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

Concerning exports, Mexico, Spain, Greece, the United States and Hungary are the main countries, with more than 100,000 annual tons.

CountryTons
Mexico260,817
Spain225,765
Greece202,717
The United States147,376
Hungary121,475
Malaysia98,635
Italy96,462
Singapore44,398
China35,928
Kazakstan26,974

Source: FAO Trade Yearbook, 2000

The following table includes the 10 main world importers of watermelon. The first one are the United States, followed by Germany, Canada and Poland.

CountryTons
The United States218,456
Germany168,928
Canada146,792
Poland101,325
China95,835
Singapore92,081
Italy88,428
France78,265
Arab Emirates70,000
Czech Republic60,996

Source: FAO Trade Yearbook, 2000
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