Mapped: Countries by Alcohol Consumption Per Capita
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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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Science

Visualizing the Relationship Between Cancer and Lifespan

New research links mutation rates and lifespan. We visualize the data supporting this new framework for understanding cancer.

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Cancer and lifespan

A Newfound Link Between Cancer and Aging?

A new study in 2022 reveals a thought-provoking relationship between how long animals live and how quickly their genetic codes mutate.

Cancer is a product of time and mutations, and so researchers investigated its onset and impact within 16 unique mammals. A new perspective on DNA mutation broadens our understanding of aging and cancer development—and how we might be able to control it.

Mutations, Aging, and Cancer: A Primer

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It is not a pathogen that infects the body, but a normal body process gone wrong.

Cells divide and multiply in our bodies all the time. Sometimes, during DNA replication, tiny mistakes (called mutations) appear randomly within the genetic code. Our bodies have mechanisms to correct these errors, and for much of our youth we remain strong and healthy as a result of these corrective measures.

However, these protections weaken as we age. Developing cancer becomes more likely as mutations slip past our defenses and continue to multiply. The longer we live, the more mutations we carry, and the likelihood of them manifesting into cancer increases.

A Biological Conundrum

Since mutations can occur randomly, biologists expect larger lifeforms (those with more cells) to have greater chances of developing cancer than smaller lifeforms.

Strangely, no association exists.

It is one of biology’s biggest mysteries as to why massive creatures like whales or elephants rarely seem to experience cancer. This is called Peto’s Paradox. Even stranger: some smaller creatures, like the naked mole rat, are completely resistant to cancer.

This phenomenon motivates researchers to look into the genetics of naked mole rats and whales. And while we’ve discovered that special genetic bonuses (like extra tumor-suppressing genes) benefit these creatures, a pattern for cancer rates across all other species is still poorly understood.

Cancer May Be Closely Associated with Lifespan

Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute report the first study to look at how mutation rates compare with animal lifespans.

Mutation rates are simply the speed at which species beget mutations. Mammals with shorter lifespans have average mutation rates that are very fast. A mouse undergoes nearly 800 mutations in each of its four short years on Earth. Mammals with longer lifespans have average mutation rates that are much slower. In humans (average lifespan of roughly 84 years), it comes to fewer than 50 mutations per year.

The study also compares the number of mutations at time of death with other traits, like body mass and lifespan. For example, a giraffe has roughly 40,000 times more cells than a mouse. Or a human lives 90 times longer than a mouse. What surprised researchers was that the number of mutations at time of death differed only by a factor of three.

Such small differentiation suggests there may be a total number of mutations a species can collect before it dies. Since the mammals reached this number at different speeds, finding ways to control the rate of mutations may help stall cancer development, set back aging, and prolong life.

The Future of Cancer Research

The findings in this study ignite new questions for understanding cancer.

Confirming that mutation rate and lifespan are strongly correlated needs comparison to lifeforms beyond mammals, like fishes, birds, and even plants.

It will also be necessary to understand what factors control mutation rates. The answer to this likely lies within the complexities of DNA. Geneticists and oncologists are continuing to investigate genetic curiosities like tumor-suppressing genes and how they might impact mutation rates.

Aging is likely to be a confluence of many issues, like epigenetic changes or telomere shortening, but if mutations are involved then there may be hopes of slowing genetic damage—or even reversing it.

While just a first step, linking mutation rates to lifespan is a reframing of our understanding of cancer development, and it may open doors to new strategies and therapies for treating cancer or taming the number of health-related concerns that come with aging.

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Misc

Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer

Which countries drink the most beer? China ranks number one due to its sheer size, and the Czech Republic comes out on top, per capita.

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Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer

Humans have been drinking beer for thousands of years—and since it’s still one of the most popular beverages worldwide, it seems we haven’t gotten sick of it yet. The latest available data shows that beer consumption exceeded 177 million kiloliters around the world in 2020.

Beer consumption occurs all over the world, but the amount varies greatly depending on the location. So, which countries drink the most beer?

This graphic uses data from Kirin Holdings to compare global beer consumption by country. Kirin is a Japanese company that has been tracking beer consumption around the world since 1975.

Which Countries Drink the Most Beer?

When it comes to total beer consumption, China ranks number one.

In 2020, the country’s consumption reached 36 million kiloliters—that’s enough beer to fill more than 14,000 Olympic-sized pools. The country accounts for a whopping one-fifth of total beer consumption worldwide. Archaeological evidence also suggests that China has a beer producing history that goes back thousands of years.

Here’s a look at the top 25 countries for beer consumption, and their global market share:

Ranking 2020CountryTotal Consumption
(thousand kl)
Global Market
Share
1🇨🇳​ China36,08820.30%
2🇺🇸​ United States of America24,10513.60%
3🇧🇷​ Brazil13,8477.80%
4🇷🇺​ Russia8,6464.90%
5🇲🇽​ Mexico8,2874.70%
6🇩🇪​ Germany7,7464.40%
7🇯🇵 Japan4,4162.50%
8​🇬🇧​ United Kingdom4,0882.30%
9🇻🇳​ Vietnam3,8452.20%
10🇪🇸 Spain3,8152.10%
11​🇵🇱 Poland3,6332.00%
12​🇿🇦​ South Africa3,2841.90%
13🇨🇴​ Colombia2,2461.30%
14🇫🇷 France1,9841.10%
15​🇨🇦​ Canada1,9791.10%
16🇨🇿 Czech Republic1,9461.10%
17​🇰🇷 South Korea1,9361.10%
18​🇮🇹​ Italy1,8861.10%
19🇺🇦​ Ukraine1,8811.10%
20🇷🇴​ Romania1,8281.00%
21🇦🇺 Australia1,8251.00%
22🇦🇷​ Argentina1,7971.00%
23​🇮🇳 India1,6860.90%
24🇹🇭 Thailand1,6800.90%
25​​🇵🇭​ Philippines1,4620.80%
Rest of the World31,56317.78%

China is the most populous country in the world, accounting for about 18% of the global population. Of course, a large population doesn’t necessarily translate to high beer consumption at the individual level. For instance, India, which has the second highest population in the world, ranks 23rd on the list for beer consumption, and only accounts for 1% of what foamy liquid gets guzzled down each year.

The U.S. comes second on the list, with more than 24 million kiloliters of beer consumed throughout the country in 2020. Americans don’t just drink a lot of beer—they brew a lot of beer, too. The U.S. is the second-largest beer producer worldwide (after China).

Beer Consumption Per Capita

Things look a bit different when you look at beer consumption per capita, rather than total beer consumption. The Czech Republic comes in first when it comes to beer consumption per capita.

In 2020, the average Czech drank more than 181 liters of beer.

chart showing beer consumption per capita by country in 2022

The Czech Republic is well-known for inexpensive beer. Some travel sites even claim that, in certain parts of the country, beer can be cheaper than bottled water.

International Beer Day

While consumption levels vary across the world, beer is an integral part of many countries’ cultures. In fact, the beverage is so popular, that it’s been given its own day. International Beer Day is celebrated on the first Friday of every August in over 200 cities across the globe.

Cheers, and happy sipping!

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