Paper is thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon or packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets.
The earliest recorded forms of paper were in use in Egypt in around 3500 BC, made from the papyrus plant. True paper is believed to have originated in China in approximately the 2nd century AD, although there is some evidence for it being used before this date. The use of paper spread from China through the Islamic world, and entered production in Europe in the early 12th century. Mechanised production of paper in the early 19th century caused significant cultural changes worldwide, allowing for relatively cheap exchange of information in the form of letters, newspapers and books for the first time.
Paper is a versatile material with many uses. Whilst the most common is for writing and printing upon, it is also widely used as a packaging material, in many cleaning products, and in a number of industrial and construction processes, and occasionally as a food ingredient, particularly in Asian cultures.