Drunken Nations: Which Countries Drink The Most Alcohol?

Informational

Countries’ flags

Alcohol is a social lubricant. It relaxes people, makes them feel happy, and can even make them a little bit more daring.

But there are some nations where alcohol is more than just a good time—it’s a way of life. These countries drink more alcohol per capita than any other in the world. 

If you’re looking for a place to let loose and get drunk, these are the nations you want to visit! Read on to learn more about the countries that consume the most alcohol!

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Alcohol Consumption Around the World

A close-up of a Globe

The amount and type of alcohol use vary substantially depending on your location. The availability of fruits and grains used in the production of alcohol and the dominant culture determine which drinks are consumed more commonly.

In 2019, the World Population Review recorded each country’s alcohol consumption in liters of pure alcohol per capita. Here is a list of the top 10 countries with the most alcohol consumption:

Alcohol Consumption Around the World Infographic

Among all the countries, Czech Republic consumes the most alcohol while Luxembourg ranks 10th. On the other side of the spectrum, a five-way tie among nations–Somalia, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia consume minimal to 0% alcohol of pure alcohol per capita.

Alcohol Consumption Growth

People toasting with their wine glasses

United States

The year 2020 brought extraordinary change to the lives of Americans, yet it did not dampen their desire for alcohol. The year saw the highest volume increase in the United States in two decades.

According to the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis findings, the total beverage alcohol volume in the United States increased by +2.0%, the most significant growth since 2002. The research outlined trends in each area and provided predictions for the sector's future.

Flavour is a primary motivator of beverage alcohol consumption in the United States. It is a crucial consumer driver in the fast-growing ready-to-drink (RTD) sector, likely having a halo impact on total alcohol consumption.

The vast majority of flavored subcategories from beer to vodka surpass traditional non-flavored ones by a wide margin. Consumers' appetite for alcoholic drinks has increased, with year-to-date performance trending higher than 2020. With volume predictions of +3.8% in 2021 alone!

From a low foundation, e-commerce alcohol sales in the United States are likely to increase, vastly outpacing the overall beverages market. It is predicted to expand by roughly 45% on an annual basis. 

The overall market perspective indicates that online alcohol sales will reach 7% by 2024.

United Kingdom

The average weekly consumption in the United Kingdom is expected to rise at a compound annual rate of 0.7% in the next 5 years, beginning from 2021 to 2022.

Alcohol consumption among UK consumers has declined from the 1990s to the 2000s. Societal factors all have an impact on the demand for alcohol, such as:

  • Price
  • Income levels
  • Taxation
  • Advertising limitations
  • Minimum age requirements
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Religion

Due to increased health consciousness, many consumers were encouraged to restrict the amount of alcohol they consumed each week during the early part of the period.

Since then, the volume of wine, beer, spirits, and RTD alcoholic beverages consumed has decreased significantly. Changing consumer views toward alcohol, an aging population, and the rise of non-alcoholic beverages have all contributed to this development.

Europe

The amount of alcohol consumed daily appears to rise with age in Europe. People aged 15 to 24 had the lowest share of those who drank alcohol most frequently (i.e., every day), while people aged 75 and over had the largest share.

Heavy episodic drinking is defined as consuming more than 60 grams of pure ethanol in a single sitting. Adults in the EU Member States reported severe drinking episodes at least once a month, ranging from 4% to 38%.

Asia

In this region, where alcohol consumption is widespread, its industries thrive. We can see that spirits will continue growing at about 0.5% per year, while RTD's (ready-to-drink) could potentially grow up by 6%. Beer is also expected to increase by 2%, while cider will increase by 1% in the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for 2021 to 2025.

Australia

In September 2021, 13,894,000 Australians aged 18 and above (69.6%) drink alcohol in an average four-week period, up from 13,179,000 (66.4%) in 2020. Significant gains in wine, spirits, and RTDs drove this growth.

Beer consumption climbed marginally during 2020. The number of Australians who drink wine climbed by 3.4% (+724,000) from 8,539,000 (43.0%) to 9,263,000 (46.%).

In mid-2021, 6,670,000 Australians (33.4%) were consuming spirits, up from 6,121,000 (30.8 percent) a year earlier (2020)—which is a 2.6% increase. The consumption of ready-to-drinks (RTDs) grew as well, rising from 2,243,000 Australians (11.3%) to 2,745,000 Australians (13.7%).

These findings come from Australia's most trusted and comprehensive consumer survey, the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, based on in-depth interviews with over 50,000 Australians each year.

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Factors That Influence Alcohol Consumption

History

Alcohol has played a central role in practically all human cultures. These substances are frequently used in almost all societies.

There is compelling evidence that the establishment of agriculture, widely considered the cornerstone of civilization, was founded on the cultivation of grain for both beer and bread.

The near-universal use of alcohol throughout human development shows that the practice had some essential adaptive benefits. However, this does not imply that it is always desirable.

Since the beginning of recorded history, drinking has been a social activity, and both intake and behavior have been subject to self-imposed social constraints.

Prohibition has never worked, especially in very religious cultures where sacred laws are couched.

Laws on Drinking

No alcohol beyond this point signage

Drinking is an integral part of many cultures, but there are always laws about how much you can drink and when. These rules vary from culture to culture or country to country.

Although differences in these rules and norms reflect different cultures' values, attitudes, and beliefs, the unwritten rules governing alcohol consumption have considerable cross-cultural commonalities or 'constants.'

Four near-universal 'constants' emerge from cross-cultural research:

  • Solitary drinking is prohibited;
  • Sociability prescription;
  • Consumption and behavior are under social control;
  • Female and 'underage' drinking are not permitted.

According to research, these unofficial rules and self-imposed drinking ritual protocols significantly impact both consumption and drinking behavior levels than 'external' or legal controls.

The law for underage drinking is common in most countries, but the definitions for 'under age' and restrictions vary widely across countries. Age limits for drinking differ from one country to another.

Some countries, like Burkina Faso—a country with the youngest drinking age, allow teenagers as young as 13 years old to drink alcoholic drinks. While other countries typically set their legal drinking age from 18 years and up.

Symbolic Functions

Bottled alcohol drinks on the table

Alcoholic beverages are potent and diverse symbolic weapons to construct and influence social worlds in all communities.

There are four main symbolic applications when it comes to alcoholic beverages, according to cross-cultural research:

  • As a descriptor of the character of social settings and occurrences;
  • As social status markers;
  • As declarations of affiliation;
  • As a means of separating men and women.

There is compelling historical and contemporary evidence that adopting "foreign" drinks frequently entails adopting the alien culture's drinking patterns, attitudes, and behaviors.

However, this does not pertain to the beverages' fundamental features. Beer, for example, may be associated with disorderly behavior in some cultures or subcultures, while in other societies, alcohol is linked to benign friendliness.

The effect of some ambivalent northern beer-drinking cultures on integrated southern wine-drinking cultures is growing in Europe, and it is linked to potentially harmful shifts in attitudes and behavior.

Attempts to curb the anti-social excesses associated with an 'alien' beverage through draconian restrictions on alcohol, in essence, may result in the association of such behavior with the previously benign native drink and an overall increase in alcohol-related problems, according to historical evidence

Some societies tend to be less receptive to foreign beverage cultural impact than others. 

Although the current convergence of drinking habits includes increased wine consumption in previously beer- or spirits-dominated nations, this has not been accompanied by the more cooperative behavior and attitudes associated with wine-consuming civilizations. This could be since people who drink wine have a higher social rank.

Designated Drinking Areas

Bar drinking

There are many different views about alcohol in society, and one way these differences manifest themselves is through the design of public drinking establishments. For instance, those who follow a temperance culture criticize alcohol consumption and encourage complete abstinence from drinking alcohol.

According to cross-cultural research, ambivalent temperance cultures prefer closed environments when drinking. At the same time, positive non-temperance communities favor more open settings where people can socialize outside on patios or around bonfires with friends instead of being confined indoors.

Significant cross-cultural commonalities or "constants," according to research, include:

  • The drinking establishment is a unique environment in all cultures, a separate social universe with its own set of rituals and values.
  • Drinking establishments are typically socially integrative and equitable situations.
  • The primary purpose of drinking establishments is to facilitate social bonding.

Daily Transitions

A group of ladies drinking alcohol after work

Alcohol plays a significant role in daily life events, both major and minor.

The United States and the UK have higher rates of alcohol consumption and problems than other countries because, in those two countries, drinking is only associated with recreation or irresponsibility—not work.

Alcohol indicates the transition to work in cultures where drinking is an intrinsic part of the ordinary working day (e.g., France, Spain, Peru), and alcohol is used to mark the transition to work.

Shifts in these cultures away from typical pre-work or lunchtime drinking should be cause for concern since these shifts could suggest a trend toward drinking patterns and attitudes linked to increased levels of alcohol-related issues.

Festive Rituals

Alcohol is inherently integral to all celebrations, and drinking is known to be a universal pastime.

There are many different cultures in which drinking is integral to celebrations. In every single one, alcohol plays an important role and makes for a more enjoyable experience with friends or family members alike!

 

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Countries That Drink the Most FAQ

1. How do they rank countries?

Countries are ranked based on each country’s alcohol consumption in liters of pure alcohol (standard drinks) for all types of liquor such as beer, wine, spirits, and the like. For instance, one 12-ounce beer contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. 

2. Which country has the most rigid rules on alcohol consumption?

El Salvador has a strict rule on alcohol consumption. It is illegal to drink and drive, which makes it impossible for residents of this country to do so regularly even if they wanted to!

Conclusion

So, what do you think? Did this article make you want to book a trip to one of the top alcohol-consuming countries in the world? Or maybe just drink a little bit more than usual today? We don’t blame you—alcohol is definitely something that can put a smile on our faces. 

But we should remember that it’s important to drink responsibly and not let alcohol take over our lives. Cheers!



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