World Facts

Who Drinks The Most? - Alcohol Consumption By Country

When it comes to drinking alcohol, certain cultural stereotypes may hold credence. But this may not be a bad thing.

There seem to be discussions all around the world in regards to spirit-filled beverages, from their creation to their consumption patterns. Every topic from where the most expensive beer is sold in the world to where it is cheapest is fair game. There has also been an argument as to which countries consume the most alcohol.

Measuring Alcohol Consumption

Some countries may consume particular types of alcohol in large quantities, while having consumption patterns expressing general disdain for others. To avoid confusion and misjudgment as much as possible, the best way to measure alcohol consumption anywhere in the world is through the per capita consumption of pure alcohol within a given country. ‘Pure alcohol’ is an important constraint, as some forms of alcoholic beverages are very intoxicating, while others have much less actual alcohol within them. Luckily, we have access to data that has been collected and documented by the World Health Organization just for such purposes. This data represents alcohol consumption per capita for people who are over 15 years of age per population.

Regional Trends

Looking at the published statistics, the highest consumption rates of alcohol seem to be concentrated in Europe and other places in the Northern Hemisphere of the globe. The highest rates can be seen in countries like Estonia, Belarus, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and France. Meanwhile, countries in Asia, Africa, and the pacific have much lower rates of consumption. We need to note here that we are not discussing rates of alcoholism, which is an addiction to the consumption of alcohol, but rather the average consumption of alcohol within a country. That is why we use per capita consumption of pure alcohol as a measurement to avoid being biased as much as possible.

Cultural Factors

There are several factors that could have led to such tendencies within and between certain groups of countries. European countries might exhibit such a trend because major producers of the biggest alcoholic brands originate from there, which can itself be attributed to the fact that drinking has been a cultural institution for these countries for many centuries, and the activity has been passed down through successive generations. For example, Russian vodka is a traditional drink within the country, and given the high alcohol content of this drink this fact might attribute to Russia being high up on the table. Another factor might be attributed to weather conditions. Many of the countries listed lie within some of the coldest regions on earth. Populations in these regions may tend to consume a lot of alcohol in order to negate the effects of cold weather, as alcohol can create an illusion of ‘warming’ the body.

Final Thoughts On National Drinking Patterns

In conclusion, we know that alcohol plays an important role in many societies, just as other beverages like soft drinks, juices, tea, cocoa, and coffee. Alcohol’s effects can be detrimental or benign, depending on how responsibly it is consumed. The trends here likely are no cause of alarm, and more research needs to be done to concretely define the effects of a high per capita alcohol consumption on a country.

Countries With The Highest Alcohol Consumption per Capita

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RankCountryLiters of pure alcohol consumed per capita
5Czech Republic12.47
11Russian Federation11.20
13Saint Lucia10.83
21Equatorial Guinea9.94

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