Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle is a crumpled baize of lofty peaks and lush valleys straddling the triptych borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma. The region is notorious for drugs, particularly Burma’s poppy fields that are the world’s second principal source of heroin.

In Burma poppy cultivation grew 17% from 43,600 hectares in 2011 to 51,000 hectares last year, according to UNODC and around 300,000 households in Burma are currently engaged in its cultivation, because of cultural, commercial and economic reasons, but mainly out of necessity.

With recent democratic reforms heralding a prodigal return to the international fold, Burma is now feeling increased pressure to tackle its drugs problem. To this end, Myanmar, as the country is officially known, last week sent a high-level delegation to the U.N. Commission on Narcotics Drugs in Vienna for the first time. However, uneasy cease-fires with ethnic rebels, porous frontiers and rampant corruption continue to cloud whether the central government can successfully rein in its wild hinterland.

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