The World’s Biggest Drinkers Probably Don’t Hail from Where You Think They Do

Sure, a couple of countries in the world have reputations for being full of heavy drinkers (Russia and Ireland, I’m looking at you) — but are those really the booziest places on earth? According to some data from World Health Organization, nope. They’re not. And the countries that do hold some of the world’s biggest drinkers are actually quite surprising.

Global Post unearthed some interesting trends when they took a look at WHO’s stats on total adult per capita consumption of alcohol and which countries participate in heavy episodic drinking weekly. The short version is that a lot of Asian nations drink as much or more than Russia; a number of African nations can drink Ireland under the table; and the world’s top binge drinking country is a tiny little island nation in the Pacific, Cook Islands. Interesting, no?

Here, have a few charts Global Post put together illustrating their finds:

In most countries, men outdrink women — but here, we see that the women of Vietnam outdrink the men. Sure, Ireland still has them beat by a long shot; Russia, however, lags behind them, in spite of its booze-loving reputation. Laos, India, and the Philippines also all play host to some heavy binge drinkers. As for the U.S.? Well, let’s just say that we probably shouldn’t challenge anyone to a drinking contest anytime soon.

Meanwhile, if we look at the average number of drinks consumed per week, Ireland loses its crown: Mali, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria all drink more:

For the record, we’re only looking at those who consider themselves drinkers; this means that we’re dealing only with a small subset of the population. Still, though — it looks like those who do drink in these African nations, drink really hard.

And here is perhaps the biggest surprise: The chart that compares the numbers for the countries with the most binge drinkers. Cook Islands, Tunisia, and Ireland all nab the top three spots; Russia and the U.S., who are nowhere near the top, are included for comparison purposes:

Apparently nearly half of all Cook Islands’ men binge drink, and 67 percent of them binge once a week. Yowza.

This is also interesting in conjunction with a study conducted earlier this year by Euromonitor. As detailed in the Daily Mail, this one looked specifically at which countries consume the most shots — but the winner here wasn’t Vietnam. It wasn’t Russia, and wasn’t Ireland. It was South Korea, where the average person of drinking age consumes 13.7 shots a week. To put it in perspective, drinkers in the US only knock back 3.3 shots per week. Even Russia, which took the number two slot, only consumes about half the number South Korea does — 6.3.

The moral of the story? Pretty much everyone can drink the U.S. under the table. For more findings from Global Post, head to their website; and for an even bigger picture, take a look at WHO’s raw data for heavy episodic drinking and total adult consumption per capita.

Images: Global Post