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How Much Land Worldwide Is Used to Grow Crops?

About 11 percent of the Earth's surface is used to grow crops, and about 27 percent is used to keep livestock and other food sources. Land that is used to grow crops is known as arable land, which is different from agricultural land. About 38 percent of the land in the world is agricultural land, which includes arable land, land used for growing fruit and land used for grazing livestock.

More facts about growing crops:

  • Irrigated land is more than twice as productive as non-irrigated land and, in some cases, can increase crop yields by 400 percent. About 16 percent of croplands in the world are irrigated, which represents about 2 percent of the world's surface. These irrigated croplands produce about 40 percent of the world's food.

  • The United States has the most cultivated land in the world, with more than 650,000 square miles (about 1,700,000 square km) of land worked for food production — or about 18 percent of the country's total area. The country with the highest percentage of cultivated land is Tuvalu, where almost 67 percent of the land is used for cultivation.

  • Twenty-four territories in the world have no cultivated land, including Monaco, Macau, Greenland, Gibraltar and Christmas Island.
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