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World's biggest drunks REVEALED

World’s biggest drinkers REVEALED: Eastern Europe dominates global alcohol consumption table… but can you guess where the US and UK rank?

  • Data from the CIA ranked alcohol consumption in 189 nations
  • The UK cracked the top 25, while the US ranked 35 out of 189
  • READ MORE: Drinking ANY amount of alcohol may raise risk of 60 diseases

While Americans and Britons both have strong drinking cultures, neither hold a candle to nations like Latvia, Austria, and even a collection of islands in the South Pacific. 

That’s according to figures compiled by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2019, which analyzed the average liters of pure alcohol each person drank in 189 countries. 

The Cook Islands – a collection of islands in the South Pacific- topped the list, with the average person consuming about 13 liters of pure alcohol per year- that’s more than 100 glasses of wine. 

The UK made it to the top 25, ranking 24 out of 189, while the US was 35th place. 

Data collected by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ranked alcohol consumption of 189 countries. The Cook Islands, a collection of 15 islands in the South Pacific, topped the list, while the UK and US ranked 24 and 35 respectively

The data was collected as part of the CIA’s World Factbook, a reference database that provides detailed demographic information for 266 countries. 

Three of the countries in the top five are in Eastern Europe, the home of vodka, which has some of the highest rates of alcoholism. 

More than one in 10 men in Latvia and Lithuania, for example, are dependent on alcohol. 

Austria, where the legal drinking age is 16, closed out the top five, also has a strong beer culture.

About half Cook Islands adults over 18 drink alcohol, with some groups drinking as many as 10 beverages in a single night out.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 2.3 billion people across the globe are considered ‘current drinkers,’ meaning that they drink alcohol on a regular basis. This is nearly 30 percent of the world’s population. 

The Cook Islands is a self-governed nation in the South Pacific, nearly 2,400 miles from New Zealand, that’s comprised of 15 islands.

The entire nation has about 17,500 people, and its economy is centered around tourism. The CIA’s data says that over half the alcohol Cook Islanders drink is from spirits, such as vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum. 

A separate report released by the Cook Islands Ministry of Health and the WHO found that almost half of all respondents from the Cook Islands drank alcohol in the last 30 days. 

Alcohol use was more common in men, who made up about 57 percent, versus women, who accounted for 37 percent. 

The researchers also noted that on a single drinking occasion, male drinkers consumed 9.5 standard drinks, whereas women had 6.3. 

A standard drink contained about 10 grams of pure alcohol. In the US, a standard drink has 14 grams pure alcohol, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

Pure alcohol is measured as one milliliter for every percentage of the drink’s strength if there’s at least 100 milliliters of it. A liter of 37.5 percent vodka, for example, contains 375 milliliters of pure alcohol, while a five-percent beer would contain 28.4 milliliters of pure alcohol. 

Men between ages 18 and 44 consumed an average of 10 drinks per occasion. 

On average, the report found that men had about 4.9 drinking occasions per month, while women had 4.2. That means young men could have upwards of 50 drinks per month.  

Lower on the list are the US and UK, where drinking is a major part of both cultures.

Europe has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol of any continent in the world, the WHO has said.

According to 2021 data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Britons consume about 4.4 pints of beer or 2.3 bottles of wine on average every week. 

They also tend to binge drink more than most other nations, with 51 percent of all alcohol consumed in the country drank by heavy drinkers — defined as drinking two pints for men or one pint of beer for women per day by the OECD. 

In the US, 213 million people ages 18 and older have reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime, according to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). 

About a quarter of US men and a fifth of US women reported binge drinking within the past month. 

The US may rank lower than the UK due to an older drinking age. While Americans have to wait until age 21 to legally drink, Britons can do so at 18.  

Rounding out the bottom of the CIA’s list, all tied at 0 liters per year, were Bangladesh, Kuwait, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. 

In Bangladesh, consuming or selling alcohol was prohibited at the time the CIA data was released due to religious reasons. However, last year the country loosened its laws to allow someone to drink with official permission. 

It’s still banned in Kuwait, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia.


One screening tool used widely by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, the 10-question test is considered to be the gold standard in helping to determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems.

The test has been reproduced here with permission from the WHO.

To complete it, answer each question and note down the corresponding score.


0-7: You are within the sensible drinking range and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.

Over 8: Indicate harmful or hazardous drinking.

8-15: Medium level of risk. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider cutting down (see below for tips).

16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own may be difficult at this level, as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counsellor.

20 and over: Possible dependence. Your drinking is already causing you problems, and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reduce your drinking. You should seek professional help to ascertain the level of your dependence and the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.

Severe dependence may need medically assisted withdrawal, or detox, in a hospital or a specialist clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours needing specialist treatment.

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  • Posted on July 3, 2023