Alcohol Consumption Around the World: Which Countries Drink the Most?

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Alcohol Consumption Around the World: Which Countries Drink the Most? Getty Images

An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar. That's how the old joke begins, but in reality, what would happen next? As it turns out, contrary to his nation's hard-drinking reputation, the Irishman would likely be the one driving everyone home.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a list of the countries that consume the most alcohol, and found that the citizens of the United Kingdom are the 12th heaviest drinkers in the world, consuming 12 liters (3.17 gallons) of pure alcohol a year.

Ireland comes in 26th on the list, tied with Slovenia and South Korea, drinking a relatively modest 10.9 liters (2.88 gallons) of alcohol a year.

From WHO data, Newsweek has worked out a breakdown of what type of alcohol each nation favors, giving a percentage amount for beer, wine, spirits (including all distilled beverages), and the 'other' category, which includes fermented beverages made from grains, cider and more.

Nigeria has a massive 92 percent consumption rate of this mysterious 'other', perhaps due to the prevalence of Ogogoro, a home-brewed alcohol made from fermented Raphia palm tree juice.

The southern African state of Namibia is the biggest beer drinker—the ale makes up a massive 96 percent of their total consumption. Their capital, Windhoek, has become somewhat of a brewing powerhouse, a legacy of German colonialism.

The Portuguese are the biggest wine drinkers, with the beverage making up 61 percent of total consumption—ahead of France, at 59 percent. In South Korea, spirits make up 95 percent of alcohol consumption, the highest on the list.

But only one nation can claim the title of the most booze-soaked. Drinking an impressive 17.4 liters (4.6 gallons) of pure alcohol a year, this small Eastern European nation has no legal drinking age, and allows 16-year-olds to purchase alcohol.

The U.S. also makes the list, but how did it rank? Without further ado, here are the heaviest-drinking nations in the world.

01 Vietnam
=49. Vietnam: 8.7 liters (2.3 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 95%. Wine: 1%. Spirits: 4%. Other: 0%.Getty Images
02 Sweden
=49. Sweden: 8.7 liters (2.3 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 36.5%. Wine: 46.5%. Spirits: 15%. Other: 2%.Getty Images
03 USA
48. United States: 9 liters (2.38 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 50%. Wine: 17%. Spirits: 33%. Other: 0%.Getty Images
04 Cyprus
=45. Cyprus: 9.1 liters (2.4 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 33%. Wine: 24%. Spirits: 43%. Other: 0%. Getty Images
05 Brazil
=45. Brazil: 9.1 liters (2.4 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 59%. Wine: 5.5%. Spirits: 35%. Other: 0.5%. Getty Images
06 Andorra-2
=45. Andorra: 9.1 liters (2.4 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 33%. Wine: 41%. Spirits: 26%. Other: 0%. Getty Images
07 Greece
=43. Greece: 9.3 liters (2.46 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 25%. Wine: 53%. Spirits: 20.5%. Other: 1.5%. Getty Images
08 Chile-2
=43. Chile: 9.3 liters (2.46 gallons) of pure alcohol. Beer: 31%. Wine: 41%. Spirits: 29%. Other: 0%. Getty Images