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Erin Brown / Grand Vale Creative

The world has more cropland than anyone realized

South Asia and Europe can be considered "agricultural capitals of the world," with the United States — at least by one measure — substantially less prominent, a new U.S. Geological Survey report finds.

It also finds that there's much more cropland in the world than estimated previously.

The report — released Tuesday, Nov. 14 — is based on mapping efforts that detail "croplands worldwide in the highest resolution yet, hoping to ensure global food and water security in a sustainable way," according to the USGS.

The organization is a scientific agency of the U.S. government that examines "the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change.

Among the highlights of information from the USGS:

• The amount of croplands in the world is 15 to 20 percent higher than former assessments. The increase reflects better understanding of large areas that weren't mapped before or inaccurately mapped as non-croplands.

• South Asia and Europe have the highest percentage of their total geographic area in croplands, making them "agricultultural capitals." For example, croplands make up 70 to 80 percent of Denmark, Ukraine, Ireland and Bangladesh. In contrast, croplands make up 18 percent of the United States.

• India has the highest net cropland area, followed by the United States, China and Russia.

Statistics of every country in the world can be viewed in an interactive map.

More information, including a satellite-generated map of U.S. croplands: www.usgs.gov/news/new-map-worldwide-croplands-supports-food-and-water-se....

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