The World Health Organization, understandably, has major concerns when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Their surveys cover all kinds of different health related issues, and measure both the recorded and (attempt to measure) the unrecorded consumption of alcohol in countries all over the world. Despite it's reputation for manic vodka consumption, Russia doesn't come out at number one. The survey measures by total volume of alcohol (as opposed to the liquid it's transported in), and certainly makes for interesting reading for anyone who likes a tipple, or just likes to know what they're letting themselves in for when they travel. Here's the current top, and bottom five:
Moldova The 3.5 million people living in this landlocked corner of Eastern Europe are the biggest drinks on our planet, according to the WHO. In fact, it doesn't seem to matter to the local populace too much what they drink, with beer, wine and spirits all making up roughly equal segments of the consumption. You'll find the world's largest wine cellar, stretching for 250kms, at Milestii Mici.
Czech Republic Widely touted as the beer capital of the world (though the Germans, amongst others, might have something to say about that, the Czech's made the original form of Budweiser. And yes, it is a whole lot better than the American form. If you've ever been here, you'll also know that it's a spot where you'll find abundant, toxic green absinthe. Beer makes up an unsurprising majority, though, alongside the meaty style of their cuisine.
Hungary The Hungarians are a much more wine-focused nation, with their dessert wine 'Tokaji' having achieved extremely substantial international acclaim. There are plenty of others, too, with wine making up a slightly larger proportion of Hungarian alcohol consumption than beer. There are a number of local beer brands, and plum brandy (and apricot or cherry if you prefer some variety) making up the other popular local booze.
Russia It had to be in there somewhere, didn't it? The pure strength of Russia's alcohol pushes it into the top five, with more than double the alcohol that's consumed as beer consumed through spirits (or, in short, vodka). It's traditionally drunk straight, and, worryingly, translates approximately to 'little water'. Something had to be done about that cold, right?
Ukraine As a former Russian republic, perhaps it's unsurprising that Ukraine falls very close in terms of alcohol consumption. Horilka - essentially moonshine - can be interpreted as being similar to a number of other types of alcohol, and like the Russians, Ukrainian citizens consume most of their booze in spirit form. Nearly all Horilka is produced at a similar strength to vodka, around 40%. Ukraine rounds out an entirely European top five - in fact the first non-European country falls at number 13, South Korea.
Yemen The country that consumes the least alcohol in the world is Yemen. In fact, officially, the people of Yemen don't drink any alcohol, though their illegal industry means a few spirits get through. It's fairly difficult to come across them as an outsider, but given all the warnings in place over the country at present, not being able to have a tipple's almost certainly the least of your worries.
Pakistan Another traditionally Islamic and so largely alcohol free country, Pakistan's alcohol consumption per person is still a multiple of three of Yemen's. As an outsider you can drink in permitted restaurants (as can the 3% of the local population that's not Muslim), or pick up a permit enabling you to buy a slightly unhealthy quantity every month. In Pakistan, though, drinking in public is very rare.
Somalia A country that drinks more than double the Pakistani's, yet Somalia technically has a 100% ban on alcohol. Of course, in a country with no government to speak of, this is pretty difficult to enforce, and is done largely by social conscious. We've heard that foreigners might be offered a beer or two, but once again, they certainly shouldn't be consumed in public.
Mauritania Another country where alcohol is strictly forbidden for Muslims, but available to non-Muslim locals and visitors. One thing to be aware of is the transport of alcohol is looked upon as being suspicious and is technically illegal, so if you do choose to drink, buy and consume in the same locations, and don't try to carry your alcohol on to another a city. Again, drinking in public is really not advisable.
Libya Technically, once again, alcohol is banned in Libya. In fact, the ban here is 100% regardless of race or religious beliefs, but unlike the above, Libyan black market alcohol is fairly readily available. Seeing as the country's currently a war zone, though, with the rebels hoping to overturn a dictator who's sanity we'd question profusely, you'll probably want more a pretty serious quantity of whiskey should you find yourself here...