artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale

A plantation is a large farm which is usually specialized on farming one type of crop. Plantations grow cash crops, mostly for export, and less for local use. Crops grown on plantations include banana, sugarcane, coffee, tea, cotton and tobacco.

Tea plantation in Malaysia
Red Pine plantation in Canada

Some of the problems with plantations come from the fact that most are monocultures, that is there is only one kind of crop that is grown there. This makes them vulnerable to pests, for example. Among the earliest examples of plantations were the latifundia of the Roman Empire. They produced large quantities of wine and olive oil for export.

Plantation agriculture grew rapidly in the early modern period with the increase in international trade and the relative decline of subsistence farming. Like every economic activity, it has changed over time. Earlier forms of plantation agriculture were associated with large disparities of wealth and income, foreign ownership and political influence, and exploitative social systems such as indentured labor and slavery, especially with the southern American plantations.