Australia fosters (Foster's?) a reputation as a nation of beer-loving swagmen called Bruce. Along with the Irish and Russians, there are few nations on Earth that can match an Aussie drink-for-drink. However, a new report from the World Health Organisation shows that we're not nearly as hard drinking as we think we are. In fact, Australia didn't even crack the top ten. Strewth!
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Measuring alcohol consumption per capita between 2008 and 2010, the World Health Organisation found Belarus to be the hardest-drinking nation on Earth. The average Belarusian puts back a whopping 17.5 litres of pure alcohol every year (that's a lot of zubrovka!)
The rest of the Top 10 was rounded out by Moldova (16.8 litres), Lithuania (15.4 litres), the Russian Federation (15.1 litres), Romania (14.4 litres), Ukraine (13.9 litres), Andorra (13.8 litres), Hungary (13.3 litres), the Czech Republic and Slovakia (13 litres) and Portugal (12.9 litres).
Australians, meanwhile, drink an average of 12.2 litres of pure alcohol a year. Of that, 44 per cent was beer, 37 per cent wine, 12 per cent spirits and 7 per cent 'other'. While beer remains the national beverage of choice, consumption has been steadily declining since the 1970s, whereas wine continues to climb.
When divided by gender, Australian males drink 19.7 litres per year, while Australian females stick to a more modest 9.0 litres.
Australian alcohol per capita (15+) consumption, 1961–2010
If you're feeling unmanned by this data, take solace in the fact that alcohol abstainers were included in the calculations. When only drinkers are counted, Australia ends up with a total of 14.5 litres. (Belarus, meanwhile, rockets up to 22.1 litres.)
More importantly, we still smashed New Zealand (10.9 litres), Britain (11.6 litres) the USA (9.2 litres), and even Ireland (11.9 litres). Hurrah!
There's plenty of other interesting facts in WHO's Global Alcohol Report, including the number of worldwide deaths attributed to alcohol abuse between 2008 and 2010 (3.3 million). On second thought, maybe being a nation of lightweights isn't such a bad thing.