Opium poppies thrive best when growing in dry, warm climates around the globe, and are usually grown in remote mountain regions. The vast majority of illicit opium poppy is grown in either the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia which covers the mountainous area around Myanmar, Laos and Thailand or in the Golden Crescent which is located in the mountainous areas in the nations of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Illicit opium poppy being grown in the Americas is a more recent phenomenon, with Mexico being the major grower in the Americas. Regardless of where illicit opium poppy is grown around the world it is usually grown by poor, impoverished farmers on small plots of land.
Afghanistan grows more opium poppies than anywhere else in the world. In 2017, the United Nations estimated that there were over 300,000 hectares of land in the country that was being used to grow the crop. Most of the opium is grown in the southern region of the country. Afghanistan is part of a region called the Golden Crescent.
The UN said that Myanmar had 37,300 hectares used to cultivate opium in 2017. This represented a decrease when compared with 2015 data. Myanmar is part of an area called the Golden Triangle. Much of the opium that is produced in Myanmar is in the hands of corrupt authorities and drug lords and is used for the illegal drug trade.
Opium production in Mexico has grown in recent years, with crops now taking up 30,600 hectares. However, it is predicted that Mexican production may slow down in recent years, due to a shift in interests across the border in the United States.