Europe’s Booziest Nation

By Dirk Hanson 04/14/11

The world's “wet” tier includes the UK, Northern Europe, and the former Soviet Republics.

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Take a bow, Moldava. You've earned it.
Photo via itravel.mdl

What’s the drunkest country in the Western world? Germany? Ireland? Italy? Actually, none of the above. But if you guessed Great Britain, have an O’Doul’s on us. A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals the depths of England’s blazing battle with booze. According to London's Daily Mail, “the average drinker in the UK consumes 15-and-half-litres of pure alcohol a year—the equivalent of 775 pints of beer. That’s the same as 500 glasses of strong wine or 1000 shots of whiskey or other spirits. Only eastern European countries such as Russia, Croatia and Estonia drink more.” The WHO study measured alcohol consumption between 2000 and 2005. They reported that the “driest” part of the world is in Northern Africa, the Near East, and the Far East, where Islamic laws make drinking a crime. The “wet” tier includes the UK, Northern Europe, and the former Soviet Republics. North and South America fall somewhere in between, with the exception of heavy-drinking Argentina. (For the record, adults in the U.S. consume an average of  720 pints of beer.) Not surprisingly Russians are at the top of the list—citizens there annually consume 90 bottles of vodka. But top honors belong to the tiny nation of Moldova, a breakaway Soviet Republic, where the average male drinker consumes 8 ½ gallons of hard liquor per year.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]