Wikijunior:How Things Are Made/Rubber
What is rubber?
Rubber, which derives from plants that grow best in an equatorial climate, was first discovered by European explorers in the Americas, where Christopher Columbus encountered Mayan Indians using water-proof shoes and bottles made from the substance. Intrigued, he carried several Mayan rubber items on his return voyage to Europe. The word rubber was born in 1770, when an English chemist named Joseph Priestley discovered that hardened pieces of rubber would rub out pencil marks.
In the late nineteenth century, British rubber manufacturers began to foster the development of rubber plantations in British colonies like Malaya and Ceylon. Rubber plantations thrived in the warm climate of Southeast Asia, and the European rubber industry thrived as well, because now it could avoid the expense of importing rubber from the Americas, which lay beyond Britain's political and economic control.
The products listed here are mainly rubber based.