11 May

Map of the Week: Alcohol Consumption

By Isobel Lu

The origins of making alcohol through fermentation date back to the early Egyptian civilization, and humans have since been producing alcoholic beverages for thousands of years. Today, alcohol can be made from a variety of foods, including many different grains, fruits, and sugar, which has led to differences in consumption around the world.

This interactive map by Visual Capitalist explores the consumption levels per capita of alcohol globally, and breaks down the type of consumption into wines, beers, spirits, and more. The map showcases how alcohol usage is not evenly distributed, and the types of alcohol consumed varies widely based on geographic location. The availability of fruits and grains for harvest impacts alcohol choices, and economics also comes into play with the variation of prices of mass-produced alcohol.

Across Europe, beer and wine proved to be the most popular, with France leading the continent as the largest wine producer. According to the map above, Europe also boasts 8 out of the 10 countries with the highest alcohol consumption per capita in the world.  While grapes are more difficult to cultivate in regions across Africa and Asia, distilled drinks are much more common. The majority of countries with the lowest rates of alcohol consumption can be found in the South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA) region, where intoxication is often forbidden in the Muslim-majority countries.

Alcohol is the oldest recreational substance, and is still currently the most widely consumed substance on a global scale. Technological innovations, societal influences, and agricultural availability will continue to shape the role of alcoholic beverages in cultures around the world.