The earliest evidence of people brewing alcohol is residue of a fermented rice and honey beverage dating from between 7000 and 6600 B.C., found in pottery jars discovered in Jiahu, a Neolithic village in northern China’s Yellow River Valley.
Since then, alcohol has played an important part in many cultures and civilizations. It’s been the life of the party and the lubricant for countless debates, battles, and romances as well as the cause of family breakups, fatal accidents, and deadly disease. (In the United States, deaths from alcohol-related cirrhosis have gone up almost every year since 2000.)
The health impact of alcohol abuse is well known. It has been linked to stroke, high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, and certain cancers, among other ailments. It’s been estimated that alcohol is a contributing factor to around 3 million deaths worldwide per year – or 5% of all fatalities.
That doesn’t stop people from drinking, however. To compile a list of the 40 countries with the highest annual consumption of pure alcohol, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report by the data site Statista, which analyzed data published in May 2022 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Data is for 2019 and for people 15 years and older. Population and gross domestic product per capita data comes from the World Bank and is for 2021.
Click here to see the countries where people drink the most alcohol
On a per capita basis, the overwhelming majority of the biggest consumers of alcohol on our list – including 17 out of the top 20 – are in Europe, with Czechia in the lead, accounting for 14.3 liters (about three and three-quarters gallons) per capita in 2019. (Here are some other surprising things countries are No. 1 at.)
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