Which Countries Drink the Most Alcohol?

Updated on July 26, 2020
Margaret Pan profile image

Margaret has a bachelor's degree in International and European Studies. She has thoroughly studied global economy, history and development.

Which countries drink the most alcohol in the world?
Which countries drink the most alcohol in the world? | Source

Have you ever wondered which countries are the heaviest-drinking in the world? The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been compiling the average alcohol consumption of people aged 15 years old and older in 35 countries around the world. The term "alcohol consumption" is defined as the "annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person". Let's take a look at the countries with the highest alcohol consumption according to their latest data.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries. It was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

Average of Annual Sales of Pure Alcohol in Litres per Person in 2017
Average of Annual Sales of Pure Alcohol in Litres per Person in 2018
Czech Republic
Top 10 countries with the highest average of annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person in 2017 and 2018

10. Poland

Poland is the 10th heaviest-drinking country, according to OECD's database. In 2017, the average annual sales of pure alcohol per person reached 10,7 litres. In 2018, it slightly increased to 10,8. Beer, followed by wine were the most common types of alcoholic beverages Polish people preferred to consume while having friends over.

9. Germany

Germany is ninth of the list, with an annual average of 10,8 litres of pure alcohol sold per person aged 15 and over in both 2017 and 2018. Apart from beer (Germans are estimated to drink around 104 litres (24 gallons) of beer per person, per year), people in German settle for liqueurs as their choice of alcoholic beverage.

8. Ireland

Coming in at eighth on the list is Ireland. Irish people love their whiskey. In both 2017 and 2018, they were estimated to have bought 10 litres of pure alcohol each. What is more, alcoholism in Ireland is a significant public health problem—more than 1.35 million Irish people aged 18 to 75 are considered to be harmful drinkers.

7. Luxembourg

Another country whose citizens have trouble with alcoholism is Luxembourg. In 2017, the average annual sales of pure alcohol per person was 11,3 litres. The number slightly dropped to 11 litres in 2018. The most consumed type of alcoholic beverage is wine, followed by beer and spirits. In fact, the WHO notes that 80 percent of alcohol consumed is Luxembourg is either beer or wine and that only 20 percent is in the form of spirits.

6. Lithuania

Lithuania suffers from some of the worst rates of alcohol-related diseases, with the second-highes rate of cardiovascular disease in the EU in 2016. In 2017, each Lithuanian was estimated to have consumed 12,3 litres of pure alcohol. On the plus side, the number dropped to 11,2 litres in 2018. That can partly be attributed to Lithuania changing its laws regarding alcohol in 2017, in an attempt to fight alcoholism. Some of the changes made were the increase of the legal drinking age from 18 to 20 years old and the shortened opening hours of alcohol retail trade.


5. Russia

The fact that Russia is fifth in our list doesn't come as a surprise. Russians have long had a reputation for suffering from an addiction to alcohol. Their favorite alcoholic beverage is, of course, vodka. The number of annual litres of pure alcohol sold per Russian was steady to 11,2 in both 2017 and 2018. A surprising fact is that although Russia still has a reputation as a nation of heavy drinkers, according to a report by the World Health Organization, alcohol consumption has dropped by 43 percent since 2003.

4. France

Who can resist French wine? Well, French people are among those who can't. According to OECD data, France is fourth on the list of the heaviest-drinking countries in the world, with an average of 11,7 litres of pure alcohol sold in 2017 per person and 11,6 in 2018.

3. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic comes in at third on this list. The data released by OECD place the Czech Republic's average alcohol consumption at 11.6 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2017 and at 11,8 in 2018. For Czech citizens, the most popular drink is of course beer. In fact, this Central European country leads the world in beer consumption by a wide margin.

2. Austria

Austrians seem to be prone to excessive drinking, with this country scoring second place on this list. In 2017, Austria's average alcohol consumption per person was 12,1 litres of pure alcohol and 12,2 in 2018. Anyone over the age of 16 can buy and drink alcohol in Vienna with the exception of spirits (the age limit is 18).

1. Latvia

Finally, as of the latest data available, Latvia is the country with the highest alcohol consumption in the world. In both 2017 and 2018, this country's average alcohol consumption per person was estimated to 12,6 litres. Since 2019, there has even been an ongoing petition to raise the legal drinking age to 21—an attempt to lower the risk of youngsters developing an addiction to alcohol.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about the history, culture, customs, and present-day role of drinking alcohol in various countries around the world, I recommend an amazing book called Drinking Around the World, by Terry W. Lyons. It will provide you with some unique and useful insight into everything alcohol-related. It's very well written, with many detailed references and one that I bet you'll find extremely interesting.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Margaret Pan


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    • Margaret Pan profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Pan 

      3 weeks ago from Athens

      Thanks you for reading Manatita! I'm not a fan of alcohol either, but it's still interesting to explore the drinking habits of each country.

    • Margaret Pan profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Pan 

      3 weeks ago from Athens

      Thanks for reading and for your comment Lorna.

    • Margaret Pan profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Pan 

      3 weeks ago from Athens

      Thanks for reading, Umesh!

    • manatita44 profile image


      3 weeks ago from london

      Latvia as number one is very interesting. I did not see England and Scotland on the list, but perhaps wine is influential. Not my way but still interesting article.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      3 weeks ago

      An interesting and informative article Margaret. I'm not surprised that Ireland is on the list (I actually thought it might be higher). The Irish do tend to overindulge, although the numbers of problem drinkers listed here are quite sobering. Thank you for sharing Margaret.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      3 weeks ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Interesting information. Well compiled.


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