Many of us – from varying cultures, locations and backgrounds – enjoy an alcoholic beverage. We often associate drinking with relaxation, friends, family and festive social occasions.
But, some embrace the bottle a little more than others. You would’ve noticed the differences in drinking culture within your immediate social group, your family and of course between countries.
Annual alcohol consumption per capita by country
The large dark blue landmass at the top of the below map, AKA Russia, immediately stands out for its comparatively high annual alcohol consumption per capita (16 litres).
Similarly, multiple countries throughout the Middle East and surrounding regions, many of which have significant populations of practicing Muslims, have predictably low (or reportedly zero) rates of alcohol consumption.
Despite Australia’s liquor love affair and penchant for the amber ale, swigging an annual average of 12 litres of alcohol per capita, the heaviest consumers appear to be situated in Europe.
So, let’s zoom in for a closer look, because, after all, investigating the extreme is almost always more interesting.
Alcohol consumption: European drink of choice by country
When assessing alcohol consumption by major categories – beer, wine or spirits, it’s clear that there’s a geographic trend. Albeit, with some notable exceptions.
The predominant drink of choice, by category, appears in prominent clusters throughout Europe.
For example, far Eastern Europe – encompassing Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Armenia – has a hankering for the hard stuff, with spirit-based concoctions the dominant ‘drink of choice’.
Central Europe presents an obvious partiality for beer-based brews, with Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina all fancying a ‘froffy’.
And, as you creep further west, it appears more likely that you’ll come across the wine-swilling locals, winegrowers and vineyards of France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Montenegro.
But, irrespective of type of beverage, which European countries, on average, consume the most alcohol per capita?
European countries ranked: Average litres of alcohol consumed per year per capita
Well, as it turns out, Belarus is home to Europe’s biggest boozehounds, with Belarusians each consuming an average of 17.5 litres of alcohol per year!
Moldova is ranked second, with 17 litres of the good stuff guzzled annually per capita. And, not to disappoint traditional stereotypes, third-placed Russia staggers onto the podium, downing 16 litres of alcohol per capita each year.
At the other end of the scale, the modern-day republic of Armenia, situated at the intersection of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, appear to be the teetotalers of Europe. Bordered by Turkey to the west and Georgia to the north, Armenia consumes a comparatively low five litres of alcohol per capita per year.
Interestingly, Italy, with its vino-loving reputation, sits close to the foot of the table, ‘imbibing’ just seven litres yearly per capita.
Speaking of alcohol-related typecasting, Ireland has also earned international status as a liquor-friendly nation – if not for downright drunkenness. However, the Irish sit mid-table, consuming an average of 12 litres per capita each calendar year.