Mapped: Countries by Alcohol Consumption Per Capita
Alcohol might be one of the oldest and most frequently used recreational substances in the world, but examining countries by alcohol consumption shows that usage is not equal.
Consumption levels, and types of alcohol consumed, vary widely based on location. Furthermore, the availability of fruits and grains used in alcohol production impacts which drinks are more commonly consumed, as does the predominant culture. Some cultures see alcohol consumption as a pleasurable experience, while others see intoxication as a sin.
There’s also the question of economics and availability. It’s strange, but in some regions of the world, industrially mass-produced alcohol can flood markets and become cheaper than other beverages, including water.
When we map alcohol consumption by capita, and by different types of alcohol, these local and cultural stories come to light. The above maps use recorded consumption data from WHO for 2019, in liters of pure alcohol.
Europe Leads in Per Capita Alcohol Consumption
The top 10 countries by alcohol consumption highlight the prominence of alcoholic beverages in European culture.
Eight of the 10 countries with the top alcohol consumption per capita were in Europe. Primarily, they were Eastern and Central European countries, including #2 Latvia, #3 Czech Republic, #4 Lithuania, and #5 Austria.
But the crown of alcohol consumption per capita goes to the Cook Islands, which leads the world with an annual per capita consumption of 13L (3.4 gallons) of alcohol.
|Location||2019 Alcohol consumption/capita (L)|
|Antigua and Barbuda||11.88|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||8.84|
|Lao People's Democratic Republic||8.15|
|United Republic of Tanzania||7.81|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||7.48|
|Republic of Moldova||7.45|
|Trinidad and Tobago||5.81|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||5.46|
|Sao Tome and Principe||4.23|
|United Arab Emirates||2.03|
|Papua New Guinea||1.26|
|Central African Republic||0.94|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||0.56|
|Syrian Arab Republic||0.13|
At the bottom of the consumption charts? Not surprisingly, it’s Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Muslim countries where intoxication is religiously prohibited.
Regional Disparities in Alcohol Consumption
Per capita consumption of alcohol also highlights clear regional preferences in amount and type, or a lack of interest.
The biggest consumers of alcohol are countries in Central Europe, the South Pacific, and parts of the Caribbean. In Europe, beer and wine are kings, with most of the top consumers also being top producers such as France and Germany.
Spirits like rum, meanwhile, are dominant in the Cook Islands and much of the Caribbean, which has four of the 12 top spirit consumers. The others are mainly in Eastern Europe and Russia, which get most of their alcohol consumption from vodka.
|Top Consuming Country by Alcohol||Type||Consumption/Capita|
The importance of local crops couldn’t be overstated. Regions like Africa and Asia that struggle with the right conditions for grapes or hops saw higher consumption of “other” distilled drinks.
These include rice alcohol in South Korea and Japan, and drinks made from sugarcane, molasses, and even bananas in African countries like Tanzania.
Unlike goods like coffee or tea, alcohol can be produced from many different grains, fruits, or sources of sugar that can be fermented—so it’s natural that regional differences in types, amounts, and even cultural importance would arise.
But as one of the world’s most widely used recreational drugs, it’s played a storied role throughout history that is certain to continue evolving.
Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents
This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.
Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents
Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.
Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.
To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.
Data and Methodology
The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).
Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.
|Type of Accident||Lifetime odds of dying (1 in #)|
|Motor vehicle accident||101|
|Complications of medical and surgical care||798|
|Accidental building fire||1,825|
|Choking on food||2,745|
|Drowning in swimming pool||5,782|
|Accidental firearm discharge||7,998|
|Bee or wasp sting||57,825|
For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.
Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).
Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.
For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.
The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.
Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.
A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.
Accidental Firearm Discharge
Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.
This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.
As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).
Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.
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