Latvia named as Europe’s heaviest drinking country – with UK lagging in mid-table

Image: LATVIA, RIGA, AUGUST, 2022: Strong alcoholic drinks in glasses and bottles: cognac, scotch, whiskey and other in a popular bar in the Old Town of Riga - Tanya Keisha/

Latvia has been crowned as the heaviest drinking country in Europe with the UK falling comparatively low in the table, according to new statistics. 

Research released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that adults in Latvia consumed more alcohol than those in any other country in 2020 – with an average of 12.1 litres of pure alcohol being drunk by each adult. 

The UK surprisingly lingered in mid-table on the drinking leaderboard – published in the Mail Online this week – with adults there drinking less than in Germany, Portugal and France. 

Spain, meanwhile, ranked at number 26 – eight places below the UK. 

The figures, taken from the OECD and European Commission Health at a Glance: Europe 2022 report, compared the total amount of pure alcohol sold to those aged 15 and over across all European nations during the year 2020.

The research showed that British adults bought and drank an average total of 9.7 litres of pure alcohol in 2020; 0.1 per cent less than the average across the European Union and equivalent to around nine pints of low-strength beer or six large glasses of wine per week.

German adults were found to have consumed an average of 10.6 litres of pure alcohol, and French adults 10.4 litres. 

Spaniards were found to have drunk just below eight litres in the same year, whilst Latvians were said to have consumed a whopping average of 12.1 litres of pure alcohol per adult. 

Ranked second was the Czech Republic – where adults were found to have consumed 11.6 litres of pure alcohol during 2020 – with Lithuania (11.4 litres), Austria (11.3 litres) and Bulgaria (11.2 litres) lingering close behind. 

The OECD’s research also compared the stats from 2020 to those of a decade earlier in 2010 and found that the UK’s consumption of alcohol had fallen by around four per cent; whilst Spain’s consumption had fallen by an impressive 26 per cent. 

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Written by

James Gamble