Mapped: Countries by Alcohol Consumption Per Capita
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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.

Location2019 Alcohol consumption/capita (L)
Cook Islands12.97
Latvia12.90
Czech Republic12.73
Lithuania11.93
Austria11.90
Antigua and Barbuda11.88
Estonia11.65
France11.44
Bulgaria11.18
Slovenia11.05
Luxembourg11.00
Andorra10.99
Romania10.96
Poland10.96
Ireland10.91
Hungary10.79
Spain10.72
Belarus10.57
Germany10.56
Portugal10.37
Slovakia10.30
Barbados9.94
Montenegro9.91
UK9.80
Cyprus9.64
Croatia9.64
Australia9.51
Seychelles9.48
Bahamas9.48
Switzerland9.41
Saint Lucia9.30
New Zealand9.17
Denmark9.16
Belgium9.15
U.S.8.93
Saint Kitts and Nevis8.84
Grenada8.62
Niue8.50
Japan8.36
Netherlands8.23
Finland8.23
Lao People's Democratic Republic8.15
Malta8.07
Canada8.00
Argentina7.95
United Republic of Tanzania7.81
Chile7.80
South Korea7.74
Iceland7.72
Eswatini7.68
Italy7.65
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines7.48
Serbia7.45
Republic of Moldova7.45
Georgia7.45
Russian Federation7.29
Burkina Faso7.28
South Africa7.21
Sweden7.10
Thailand6.86
Uganda6.82
Suriname6.60
Panama6.54
Gabon6.47
Rwanda6.35
Greece6.33
Dominica6.32
Brazil6.12
Equatorial Guinea6.11
Norway6.05
Botswana5.98
Belize5.93
Angola5.84
Trinidad and Tobago5.81
Peru5.74
Congo5.74
Ukraine5.69
Dominican Republic5.56
Paraguay5.47
Mongolia5.46
Bosnia and Herzegovina5.46
Uruguay5.42
Guyana5.11
Philippines4.85
Cuba4.70
Cabo Verde4.70
Cambodia4.56
Nigeria4.49
China4.48
Albania4.40
Mexico4.25
Sao Tome and Principe4.23
Colombia4.09
Cameroon4.09
Burundi4.07
Kyrgyzstan4.02
Macedonia3.90
Zambia3.82
Armenia3.77
Kazakhstan3.73
Nicaragua3.69
North Korea3.61
Lesotho3.56
Jamaica3.46
Viet Nam3.41
Mauritius3.39
Sierra Leone3.22
Guinea-Bissau3.21
Liberia3.12
Zimbabwe3.11
India3.09
Israel3.07
Costa Rica3.07
Ecuador3.05
Bolivia2.98
El Salvador2.94
Turkmenistan2.88
Haiti2.85
Honduras2.73
Fiji2.71
Gambia2.67
Sri Lanka2.58
Venezuela2.51
Uzbekistan2.45
Nauru2.44
Namibia2.38
Samoa2.18
Myanmar2.06
Malawi2.04
United Arab Emirates2.03
Singapore1.81
Côte d’Ivoire1.70
Kenya1.68
Guatemala1.63
Vanuatu1.60
Micronesia1.59
Ghana1.59
Tunisia1.51
Mozambique1.46
Togo1.40
Maldives1.38
Azerbaijan1.38
Papua New Guinea1.26
Benin1.25
Solomon Islands1.19
Turkey1.18
Bahrain1.18
Ethiopia1.16
Lebanon1.14
Qatar0.96
Central African Republic0.94
Tuvalu0.93
Eritrea0.93
Madagascar0.89
Tajikistan0.85
Brunei Darussalam0.69
Malaysia0.64
Mali0.60
Algeria0.59
Democratic Republic of the Congo0.56
Chad0.55
Morocco0.51
Oman0.47
Kiribati0.43
Timor-Leste0.41
Nepal0.36
Guinea0.33
Tonga0.31
Senegal0.25
Jordan0.25
Djibouti0.21
Comoros0.18
Iraq0.16
Egypt0.14
Syrian Arab Republic0.13
Niger0.11
Indonesia0.08
Bhutan0.07
Pakistan0.04
Yemen0.02
Iran0.02
Libya0.01
Afghanistan0.01
Somalia0
Saudi Arabia0
Mauritania0
Kuwait0
Bangladesh0

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 AlcoholTypeConsumption/Capita
Czech RepublicBeer6.77L
FranceWine6.44L
Cook IslandsSpirits7.07L
TanzaniaOthers6.60L

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.

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Mining

Visualizing the Abundance of Elements in the Earth’s Crust

The Earth’s crust makes up 1% of the planet’s volume, but provides all the material we use. What elements make up this thin layer we stand on?

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Visualizing the Abundance of Elements in the Earth’s Crust

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

Elements in the Earth’s crust provide all the basic building blocks for mankind.

But even though the crust is the source of everything we find, mine, refine, and build, it really is just scratching the surface of our planet.

After all, the innermost layer of the Earth, the core, represents 15% of the planet’s volume, whereas the mantle occupies 84%. Representing the remaining 1% is the crust, a thin layer that ranges in depth from approximately 5-70 km (~3-44 miles).

This infographic takes a look at what elements make up this 1%, based on data from WorldAtlas.

Earth’s Crust Elements

The crust is a rigid surface containing both the oceans and landmasses. Most elements are found in only trace amounts within the Earth’s crust, but several are abundant.

The Earth’s crust comprises about 95% igneous and metamorphic rocks, 4% shale, 0.75% sandstone, and 0.25% limestone.

Oxygen, silicon, aluminum, and iron account for 88.1% of the mass of the Earth’s crust, while another 90 elements make up the remaining 11.9%.

RankElement% of Earth's Crust
1Oxygen (O)46.1%
2Silicon (Si)28.2%
3Aluminum (Al)8.2%
4Iron (Fe)5.6%
5Calcium (Ca)4.1%
6Sodium (Na)2.3%
7Magnesium (Mg)2.3%
8Potassium (K)2.0%
9Titanium (Ti)0.5%
10Hydrogen (H)0.1%
Other elements0.5%
Total100.0%

While gold, silver, copper and other base and precious metals are among the most sought after elements, together they make up less than 0.03% of the Earth’s crust by mass.

#1: Oxygen

Oxygen is by far the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, making up 46% of mass—coming up just short of half of the total.

Oxygen is a highly reactive element that combines with other elements, forming oxides. Some examples of common oxides are minerals such as granite and quartz (oxides of silicon), rust (oxides of iron), and limestone (oxide of calcium and carbon).

#2: Silicon

More than 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

Silicon links up with oxygen to form the most common minerals on Earth. For example, in most places, sand primarily consists of silica (silicon dioxide) usually in the form of quartz. Silicon is an essential semiconductor, used in manufacturing electronics and computer chips.

#3: Aluminum

Aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth’s crust.

Because of its strong affinity for oxygen, aluminum is rarely found in its elemental state. Aluminum oxide (Al2O3), aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3) and potassium aluminum sulphate (KAl(SO4)2) are common aluminum compounds.

Aluminum and aluminum alloys have a variety of uses, from kitchen foil to rocket manufacturing.

#4: Iron

The fourth most common element in the Earth’s crust is iron, accounting for over 5% of the mass of the Earth’s crust.

Iron is obtained chiefly from the minerals hematite and magnetite. Of all the metals we mine, over 90% is iron, mainly to make steel, an alloy of carbon and iron. Iron is also an essential nutrient in the human body.

#5: Calcium

Calcium makes up about 4.2% of the planet’s crust by weight.

In its pure elemental state, calcium is a soft, silvery-white alkaline earth metal. It is never found in its isolated state in nature but exists instead in compounds. Calcium compounds can be found in a variety of minerals, including limestone (calcium carbonate), gypsum (calcium sulphate) and fluorite (calcium fluoride).

Calcium compounds are widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries for supplementation. They are also used as bleaches in the paper industry, as components in cement and electrical insulators, and in manufacturing soaps.

Digging the Earth’s Crust

Despite Jules Verne’s novel, no one has ever journeyed to the center of Earth.

In fact, the deepest hole ever dug by humanity reaches approximately 12 km (7.5 miles) below the Earth’s surface, about one-third of the way to the Earth’s mantle. This incredible depth took about 20 years to reach.

Although mankind is constantly making new discoveries and reaching for the stars, there is still a lot to explore about the Earth we stand on.

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Misc

How Has Car Safety Improved Over 60 Years?

Seatbelts first became mandatory in the US in 1968. Since then, new technologies have greatly reduced road fatalities.

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How Has Car Safety Improved Over 60 Years?

Did you know that in 2019, there were 6.7 million car accidents in the U.S. alone?

This resulted in 36,096 deaths over the year—an awful statistic to say the least—but one that would be much worse if it weren’t for seatbelts, airbags, and other modern safety devices.

In this infographic, we’ve visualized data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation to show how breakthroughs in car safety have drastically reduced the number of motor vehicle fatalities.

Measuring Safety Improvements

The data shows the number of fatalities for every 100 million miles driven. From a high of 5.1 in 1960 (the first year data is available), we can see that this metric has fallen by 78% to just 1.1.

YearFatilities per 100 million miles
19605.1
19704.7
19803.4
19902.1
20001.5
20101.1
20191.1

What makes this even more impressive is the fact that there are more cars on the road today than in 1960. This can be measured by the total number of miles driven each year.

Vehicle Miles Driven

So, while the total number of miles driven has increased by 371%, the rate of fatalities has decreased by 78%. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some important car safety innovations.

1. The Seatbelt

The introduction of seatbelts was a major stepping stone for improving car safety, especially as vehicles became capable of higher speeds.

The first iteration of seatbelts were a 2-point design because they only looped across a person’s waist (and thus had 2 points of mounting). This design is flawed because it doesn’t hold our upper body in place during a collision.

Today’s seatbelts use a 3-point design which was developed in 1959 by Nils Bohlin, an engineer at Volvo. This design adds a shoulder belt that holds our torso in place during a collision. It took many years for Volvo to not only develop the device, but also to convince the public to use it. The U.S., for instance, did not mandate 3-point seatbelts until 1973.

2. The Airbag

The concept of an airbag is relatively simple—rather than smacking our face against the steering wheel, we cushion the blow with an inflatable pillow.

In practice, however, airbags need to be very precise because it takes just 50 milliseconds for our heads to collide with the wheel in a frontal crash. To inflate in such a short period of time, airbags rely on a chemical reaction using sodium azide.

The design of an airbag’s internal mechanism can also cause issues, as was discovered during the Takata airbag recall. As these airbags inflated, there was a chance for them to also send metal shards flying through the cabin at high speeds.

Dual front airbags (one for each side) were mandated by the U.S. government in 1998. Today, many cars offer side curtain airbags as an option, but these are not required by law.

3. The Backup Camera

Backup cameras became a legal requirement in May 2018, making them one of the newest pieces of standard safety equipment in the U.S. These cameras are designed to reduce the number of backover crashes involving objects, pedestrians, or other cars.

Measuring the safety benefits of backup cameras can be tricky, but a 2014 study did conclude that cameras were useful for preventing collisions. A common criticism of backup cameras is that they limit our field of vision, as opposed to simply turning our heads to face the rear.

Taking Car Safety to the Next Level

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), having both seatbelts and airbags can reduce the chance of death from a head-on collision by 61%. That’s a big reduction, but there’s still plenty of room left on the table for further improvements.

As a result, automakers have been equipping their cars with many technology-enabled safety measures. This includes pre-collision assist systems which use sensors and cameras to help prevent an accident. These systems can prevent you from drifting into another lane (by actually adjusting the steering wheel), or apply the brakes to mitigate an imminent frontal collision.

Whether these systems have any meaningful benefit remains to be seen. Referring to the table above shows that fatalities per 100 million miles have not fallen any further since 2010.

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