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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

So You Think You Can Drink?


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.

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