Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
2 minute read
6 Dec 2021
12:55 pm

You might be surprised to learn which country consumes the most alcohol

Sandisiwe Mbhele

When it comes to alcohol, the biggest drinkers in the world aren't Russians or Germans

Picture: iStock

When it comes to alcohol, the biggest drinkers in the world aren’t Russians or Germans. According to a global ranking, Cook Islanders are the world’s top consumers of alcohol. They drink nearly 13 litres of spirits, wine and beer per year per capita, according to calculations based on WHO data. 

The South Pacific Ocean, west of Tahiti, off the coast of New Zealand — from which they are politically dependent, the Cook Islands are not only notable for their beautiful beaches. The destination, named after British explorer James Cook, is also home to the population that drinks the most.

Revealed by Canadian site Visual Capitalist, which based its findings on World Health Organization data for the year 2019, Cook Islanders imbibe an average of 12.97 litres of alcohol per year. In late 2017, the WHO conducted a population survey that indicated that the Pacific Islands, including the Cook Islands, had the highest obesity rates on the planet.

When it comes to alcohol, Cook Islanders are fond of spirits, particularly rum, which accounts for more than half of per capita alcohol consumption. 

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It is also interesting to identify the populations that consume the most alcohol by region, which may prompt many preconceived ideas to be challenged. For instance, in island areas, in general, alcohol consumption is high. Seychelles comes in first place in Africa, with 9.5 litres of alcohol per capita, and Antigua and Barbuda is their North American counterpart, with 11.9 litres.

In Europe, however, the defending champion is none other than Latvia, with a staggering 12.9 litres. This is a far cry from the Asian record holder, Japan, with 8.4 litres of alcohol consumed per year per capita. Note that the Russians consume 7.3 litres and the Germans 10.6 litres.

These calculations take into account beer, wine, spirits and other categories of alcohol. As a result, when the quantities are compared by type of beverage, the ranking is turned upside down; France becomes the largest consumer of wine (6.4 litres per capita), ahead of Portugal (6 litres) and Slovenia (5.3 litres). As for beer, it is the Czechs who take the lead, with 6.7 litres of beer per capita, ahead of Austrians (6.3 litres) and Poles (5.7 litres).