Interested in knowing which are the 8 countries that produce the most opium in the world? Let’s find out!
Opium is a white, milky substance that, after extracted from the Opium Poppy, can be used to produce morphine, heroin, codeine and many other derivatives called “opiates”.
Native to the Eastern Mediterranean, The Opium Poppy became extensively cultivated throughout Europe and Asia since ancient times, thanks to its capacity as a strong analgesic and painkiller. It’s mentioned in most medicinal corpora of almost every major civilization of antiquity, including the Greek, Persian, Arabic, Indian, and Chinese.
It was reintroduced in Europe during the 15th century, where it became popular as a recreational drug, thanks to its effectiveness in producing a temporary state of euphoria and an overall sensation of calmness and well being. However, it is considered to have been used for recreational purposes long before that time in China, Turkey, and many other parts of Asia.
Opium as a pure substance became in disuse for medicinal purposes since the discovery of the morphine isolation process in the 19th century. Morphine has been viewed since then, as a much more effective way of treating pain and it’s still used today, as an essential compound in modern medicine. Opium continued to be smoked, or eaten, for recreational purposes in many societies until the 20th century, when the first synthesis of heroin for commercial use took place.
Heroin has been described as the most addictive substance within all recreational drugs, thus explaining its wide success, in spite of its proscription. Its reduced size, and increased potency also benefit drug smugglers, who can make a much larger profit with the same amount of product. However, other illegal drugs still continue to gain popularity among drug users, as you can see in our previous article on countries that produce the most illegal drugs in the world.
In spite of opium’s extensive use in modern medicine, illegal production still manages to surpass supervised cultivation, regardless of the many efforts by countries to have it completely eradicated. According to The Australian, Hurriyet Daily News, and Geopium, Turkey is the country with the largest cultivation of legal opium, which is produced under state supervision. Australia and India come in second and third place as legal producers, but this list will be focused on illegal opium producers, since they account for most of the world’s opium production. As it’s the case with any illegal drug, actual figures on production and export are never truly available beyond estimation, but conclusive reports have been made on the subject of illegal opium production by the UN’s Undoc, on their 2015 World Drug Report and the CIA, on its World Fact Book. These were our main sources when putting together this list of the 8 countries that produce the most opium in the world.