The Country That Drinks The Most Alcohol In The World

The country that consumes the most alcohol in the world may surprise you. It's not the country that drinks the most beer (Czechia), nor is it the country that produces the most beer (China). The top drinking country is not found in North America, Europe, or Asia, it is located in Africa. According to WiseVoter, a politics and information tracking website, that country is Zimbabwe. While the nation comes in last place alphabetically, it has the distinction of first place when it comes to the most alcohol consumption.

Even some Zimbabwean citizens found the ranking hard to believe, especially considering what the data revealed. Not only did the country outrank all others, but it did so by a wide margin ... nearly double the amount of drinking than any other country. The alcohol consumption per capita (how much the average person drinks in a year) in Zimbabwe is over 16 gallons — while the country in second place, Tunisia, came in at nearly 10 gallons. For this survey, WiseVoter considered a drink (one serving) as the equivalent of "one 12-ounce can/bottle of beer, one five-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce shot of liquor." 

Trailing behind in third place is another Southern African nation, Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) at just over nine gallons, followed by the Maldives in fourth place, Afghanistan in fifth, Namibia in sixth, South Africa in seventh, Algeria in eighth, Turkey in ninth, and Iran in tenth place with seven and a half gallons. 

The most popular alcoholic beverages in Zimbabwe

The countries you might have expected to be closer to the top of the list actually ranked much further down. Czechia, for example, the country that literally invented travel destination beer spas, can be found in 49th place. Beer-loving Germany took 70th, and the United States came in even lower in the 121st spot — while China ranked 128th. Interestingly, while alcohol is legal in Zimbabwe, it is illegal in Afghanistan, the Maldives, and Iran, all of which rank in the top five. In the non-US countries mentioned where it is legal, the drinking age is 18, except for Germany where it is provisionally 16.

Reasons indicated for Zimbabwe's level of alcohol consumption point to high rates of unemployment, economic instability, stress, as well as social and religious expectations. COVID-19 has also shown to be a contributing factor, with increasing rates of consumption since the start of the pandemic in 2019, which have been matched only by the skyrocketing profits made by the nation's leading alcohol manufacturers.

As for the top beverages, beer wins out as Zimbabwe's favorite. Zambezi is the country's official national beer and has been brewed there since 1992. The country's national drink is called chibuku and it's sold both commercially as well as traditionally made by home brewers. The textured beverage is made from yeasted sorghum, and its flavor and mouthfeel have been compared to fermented oatmeal. Another traditional favorite is whawha, another beer made from maize (corn).

Zimbabwean food that goes perfect with beer

Of course, what would drinking be without some delicious snacks? Zimbabwean cuisine is often enjoyed with a potent brew. Corn and peanuts feature prominently in Zimbabwean cooking. Sadza porridge, the country's national dish, is made from ground cornmeal and is usually accompanied by meat stew — while bota porridge made with peanut butter is enjoyed for breakfast and topped with butter, evaporated milk, sugar, preserves, or fresh fruit. Game meats are commonly eaten, including ostrich, warthog, and crocodile tail, and either cooked into stews or made into chimukuyu, aka biltong, a dried spicy and salted meat not unlike jerky. A type of sausage called boerewors is made from beef, pork, and sometimes the addition of lamb or goat meat.

As for regional foods just right for snacking, kapenta are small sun-dried fish that are seasoned and either fried or roasted until crispy. These are not only pleasing to munch on but also provide a good source of protein. Maputi are dried white maize kernels that are heated in a heavy cast iron pot until they pop, creating a popular treat very similar to popcorn.

Perhaps the most iconic Zimbabwean snack food that's perfect alongside a beer is madora. The dish is made from protein-packed mopane worms (a type of caterpillar larva) that can be either sun-dried, boiled, or fried until crunchy. They are usually seasoned with salt and spices and eaten as-is or cooked into a tomato and onion stew.