The native range of cinchona species are the lower to mid-elevations of the Andes in South America. Cinchona is the national tree of both Peru and Ecuador.
Supposedly, the planting of cinchona trees outside of South America was initiated by the Jesuits, who had long collected the bark in Peru and promoted its use wherever there were Jesuit missions. The constant need for malaria medicine motivated the British and Dutch to bring cinchona to their colonies by smuggling it out of the Spanish colonies and establishing plantations in Asia.
Cinchona bark is best known as the source of the anti-malarial drug quinine and is now cultivated throughout the tropics, including regions of Africa.