Cropland occupied roughly less than 1% of the global ice-free land area for a long time period until 1000 A.D., quite similar like the area used for pasture. In the centuries that followed the share of global cropland increased to 2% in 1700 A.D. (ca. 3 million km2), and 11% in 2000 A.D.(15 million km2), while the share of pasture area grew from 2% in 1700 A.D. to 24% in 2000 A.D. (34 million km2) These profound land use changes have had, and will continue to have quite considerable consequences for global biogeochemical cycles and subsequently global climate change. Some researchers suggest that mankind has shifted from living in the Holocene (~emergence of agriculture) into the Anthropocene (~humans capable of changing the Earth’ atmosphere) since the start of the Industrial Revolution. But in the light of the sheer size and magnitude of some historical land use changes (e.g. as result of the depopulation of Europe due to the Black Plague in the 14th century and the aftermath of the colonization of the Americas in the 16th century), we believe that this point might have occurred earlier in time. While there are still many uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge about the importance of land use (change) in the global biogeochemical cycle, we hope that this database can help global (climate) change modelers to close parts of this gap


Kees Klein Goldewijk, Utrecht University

Production date



Total cropland area


Agriculture, cropland

Time period

1500 -2000

Geographical coverage


Methodologies used for data collection and processing

Historical population, cropland and pasture statistics are combined with satellite information and specific allocation algorithms (which change over time) to create spatial explicit maps, which are fully consistent on a 5 minute longitude/latitude grid resolution, and cover the period 10,000 B.C. to 2,000 A.D.

Period of collection

Data collectors

HYDE database

1960 – 2000 period: good Ca 1800-1960 period: fair for Europe and N. America, poor for the rest of the world Pre-1800 period: rather poor, a few countries excepted

General references

HYPERLINK "http://www.pbl.nl/hyde" www.pbl.nl/hyde

Klein Goldewijk, K. , A. Beusen, M. de Vos and G. van Drecht, 2011. The

HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human induced land use change

over the past 12,000 years, Global Ecology and Biogeography 20(1):



tract" DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00587.x.


Anguilla[No Data]

Antigua and Barbuda1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Aruba[No Data]

Bahamas1500 (5)-2013 (23)

Barbados1500 (5)-2016 (28)

Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba[No Data]

British Virgin Islands[No Data]

Cayman Islands[No Data]

Cuba1500 (8)-2016 (35)

Curaçao[No Data]

Dominica1500 (5)-2016 (21)

Dominican Republic1500 (6)-2018 (38)

Grenada1500 (5)-2013 (21)

Guadeloupe[No Data]

Haiti1500 (6)-2018 (36)

Jamaica1500 (6)-2018 (35)

Martinique[No Data]

Montserrat[No Data]

In 2010, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a subsidy to the Clio Infra project, of which Jan Luiten van Zanden was the main applicant and which is hosted by the International Institute of Social History (IISH). Clio Infra has set up a number of interconnected databases containing worldwide data on social, economic, and institutional indicators for the past five centuries, with special attention to the past 200 years. These indicators allow research into long-term development of worldwide economic growth and inequality.

Global inequality is one of the key problems of the contemporary world. Some countries have (recently) become wealthy, other countries have remained poor. New theoretical developments in economics - such as new institutional economics, new economic geography, and new growth theory - and the rise of global economic and social history require such processes to be studied on a worldwide scale. Clio Infra provides datasets for the most important indicators. Economic and social historians from around the world have been working together in thematic collaboratories, in order to collect and share their knowledge concerning the relevant indicators of economic performance and its causes. The collected data have been standardized, harmonized, and stored for future use. New indicators to study inequality have been developed. The datasets are accessible through the Clio Infra portal which also offers possibilities for visualization of the data. Clio Infra offers the opportunity to greatly enhance our understanding of the origins, causes and character of the process of global inequality.