Colombia is the world’s #1 producer of cocaine, according to both the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United States’ Department of State.
While nobody exactly knows how much coca is cultivated and how much cocaine is produced and subsequently exported, both the UNODC and the US State Department make annual estimations of the size of the illicit industry.
In 2016, Colombia had 146,000 hectares of coca cultivation according to the United Nations, whose method of measuring is considerably more transparent than that of the US.
Coca cultivation in Colombia
Coca is grown across Colombia, but most intensely in areas where there has been a chronic state abandonment, either due to neglect of the state or because of heightened presence by leftist rebel groups like the FARC or ELN who tax coca growers and in some areas buy the leafs to turn them into coca paste.
In its annual report, The UNODC provides relatively accurate maps on where the density of coca crops is highest.
Coca cultivation density in 2016
Regional coca cultivation maps
The areas most affected by coca cultivation are the Pacific coast, particularly the Nariño province in the southwest, the southern Putumayo province on the Ecuadorean border, the Catatumbo region on the Venezuelan border and the central Meta and Guaviare provinces.
Coca cultivation on the Caribbean coast and the country’s eastern plans are increasingly less popular for coca growth.