What Are the Legal Drinking Ages Around the World?

It’s universal knowledge that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21. But it’s also widely known that many young people, particularly college-aged Americans, drink well before they actual turn 21 years old.

But where does America stand in respect to the rest of the world? Some of these numbers will shock you, without a doubt. Let’s take a look at the various drinking ages around the globe…

  • 21 years old: United States, Oman, Palau, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Micronesia, Mongolia, etc.
  • 20 years old: Iceland, Japan, Thailand, Paraguay, Uzbekistan
  • 18-19 years old: United Kingdom, Ukraine, Israel, Jamaica, Madagascar, Norway, Senegal, Monaco, Russia, Syria, Sweden, Jordan, Turkey, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Greece, Ghana, Chad, Chile, Canada, France… the list goes on and on, but the majority of countries in the world set their minimum drinking age between 18-19 years old.
  • 16-17 years old: Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Haiti, Belgium, Grenada, Congo, etc.
  • 10-15 years old: Antigua and Barbuda, Central African Republic
  • No minimum age: China, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Togo, Timor-Leste, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Benin, Bolivia, Burundi, Sao Tome and Principe, Laos, Kosovo, Indonesia, Mali, Rwanda, Guinea-Bissau, etc.
  • Total ban on alcohol: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, etc.

In terms of the research that has been conducted, countries that have their legal drinking ages between the ages of 16-19 have found less accidental related deaths due to alcohol consumption, as well as less binge drinking. Countries that have higher legal drinking ages, such as the United States for instance, have a much higher death rate due to alcohol consumption and see higher rates of alcohol addiction and drunk driving related incidents.

While the data suggests that lowering the drinking age would teach young people how to drink responsibly, it doesn’t seem like the law will change anytime soon.

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