In Turkmenistan you drink vodka. Some more than others. 

How much alcohol do you drink? Not much compared to those who consume the most. Or can you match 18.22 liters of pure alcohol a year? I didn’t think so.

Then again, who knows how much alcohol 18.22 liters is, in common terms? Well, it depends on the stregth, but one liter equals approcimately 76 drinks (330ml beer (4% strength), 100ml wine (13% strength) or 33ml liqueur (40% strength)).
18.22 liters is in other words the same as 1,383 beers. That is 27 beers a week or almost 4 beers every day. You feel thirsty yet? 
The average Norwegian drinks only 43% of that. That is still over 11 beers a week, but quite far behind the heaviest drinkers of them all.

The Moldovans.

The little country between Romania and Ukraine is one of the poorest in Europe, although I will not dare to say that is the reason for their heavy consumption. They make really good wine, though. Really. So do consider going there for your next wine tour. You have already been to France. Most of the wine is for export, but don’t expect to find it in your local bottle shop. The majority is exported to fellow former Sovjet republics.

Czech Republic is number two on the list of heavy consuming country, trailing Moldova by almost two liters per year. Hungary is not far behind in third spot.

South Korea
You may be surprised to see that there is only one non-European country in the top 26 spots. South Korea secures 13th spot. You can thank or blame soju for that, depending on whether you are a drinker or a doctor. The clear distilled beverage is often consumed with beer. Just keep in mind that there is little that beats soju inflicted hangovers. Allegedly.

But enough of South Korea. The next non-European country is Nigeria in 27th. And Norway with its 7.81 liters? The world’s northernmost kingdom is number 74. 

The official figures from registered sales do in many countries count for less than half of the estimated alcohol consumption. The unrecorded consumption includes home made and smuggled alcohol. It has been calculated using empirical investigations and expert judgments, according to Wikipedia.
Do note that Czech Republic is number one in terms of registered consumption, followed by Andorra and Estonia. Moldova is number one when it comes to unrecorded drinking. Moonshine, anyone?
Only tea in Afghanistan.

And the other end of the list? 
Yemen and Afghanistan see the lowest consumption by only 0.02 liters per person. All of that is, naturally, unregistered. They seem to make up for it in khat usage, though. Visiting Yemen for New Year’s Eve 2009 was not my best party planning decision ever.

Saudi Arabia is also low on the list, but there is surprisingly 0.05 liters of recorded alcohol consumption there. I wonder who in the royal family allowed that.

My bet is that a lot of the alcohol in Saudi is being consumed in the British embassy. And possibly in the Moldovan one, of course.  

The world’s heaviest drinkers, by equivalent liters of pure alcohol 
  1. Moldova: 18.22 liters
  2. Czech Republic: 16.45 liters
  3. Hungary: 16.27 liters
  4. Russia: 15.76 liters
  5. Ukraine: 15.60 liters
  6. Estonia: 15.57 liters
  7. Andorra: 15.48 liters
  8. Romania: 15.30 liters
  9. Slovenia: 15.19 liters
  10. Belarus: 15.13 liters
  11. Croatia: 15.11 liters
  12. Lithuania: 15.03 liters
  13. South Korea: 14.80 liters (first Asian country)
  14. Portugal: 14.55 liters
  15. Ireland: 14.41 liters
  16. France: 13.66 liters
  17. United Kingdom: 13.37 liters (higher level of registered drinking than Denmark)
  18. Denmark: 13.37 liters
  19. Slovakia: 13.33 liters
  20. Poland: 13.25 liters
  21. Austria: 13.24 liters
  22. Luxembourg: 13.01 liters
  23. Germany: 12.81 liters
  24. Finland: 12.52 liters
  25. Latvia: 12.50 liters
  26. Bulgaria: 12.44 liters
  27. Nigeria: 12.28 liters (first African country)
  28. Uganda: 11.93 liters
  29. Saint Lucia: 11.85 liters (first North American country)
  30. Spain: 11.62 liters
42. Palau: 10.10 liters (first Oceanian country)
45. Argentina: 10.00 liters (first South American country)
57. USA: 9.44 liters
62. Brazil: 9.16 liters
74. Norway: 7.81 liters

Wikipedia lists more countries.


  1. Enjoyable read, but I suspect your numbers are off somewhat. One litre of alcohol is not 100 330ml bottles of beer, unless you drink beer around 3% in strength. I reckon the average beer to be more likely in the 5% range, which gives us 60 beers per litre of alcohol.

    So the headline figure of 1822 beers on average each year tumbles to about 1100. Still a tasty amount, but a miserly 21 beers a week, 3 a day.

    A another interesting aspect to the numbers on the wikipedia page are the unrecorded figures, and I'd love to know how that ties in with effective tax rates on alcohol sales.

  2. Thanks, Sokratees,

    I have cleared that up a bit, although I went for 4% in beer. I depended on figures on a website, which was a little stupid…

    I don't know more about the unrecorded figures, but without them Czech Republic is on top…

  3. Amazing trip. I have started to travel since 2003, but unfortunable I only have one motnh once a year to choose a country or route to a new adventure each year. By the moment I ve visiting Sudamerica, Europe, Rusia and Israel. Central Asia is in my list too. My best regards from Chile.

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