In the bottom of the bottle, a story about Arctic excess

The further north, the more drinking.

Northern Russians and Finns are the by far biggest drinkers in the Barents Region. They are also the ones with the highest homicide and suicide rates, figures from Patchwork Barents show.


The Barents Region is topping international statistics on alcohol consumption. And the further north you go, the more frequent are the toasts.

Thirsty northerners
In Finland, people in the northernmost region of Lapland consume almost 30 percent more alcohol than the national average. In 2012, the average per person consumption of pure alcohol in the region amounted to 10,7 liters, which is two liters more than in the neighboring region of Kainuu and almost three liters more than in Northern Ostrobotnia (Oulu), figures from the National Institute of Health and Welfare show.

In Russia, figures on distilled beverages show a similar situation with far higher consumption in northern regions compared with the national average. In Murmansk Oblast, the average per person consumption in 2012 amounted to 17,20 liters. Consumption is the highest in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, where per person consumption of distilled alcohol in 2012 amounted to 25,8 liters and in the Komi Republic where the figure was 24,1 liter. The Russian national average pure alcohol consumption was 15,6 liters per person in 2012.

Norway and Sweden do not have regional figures on alcohol consumption. However, national figures from the countries’ statistical offices show a consumption of 6,21 and 9,20 liters of pure alcohol per person respectively in year 2012.

Deadly alcohol 
The major consumption in the Barents Region might help people keep warm and lighten the spirits in dark polar days. But far too often, it all ends in tragedy. Figures on homicides and suicides show that the northern regions are way above the national averages. According to figures displayed at Patchwork Barents, northern Finland has almost twice as many suicides as in northern Sweden and Norway. In northwest Russia, the situation is even worse. While the number of suicides per 100,000 inhabitants in northwest Russia was 32, the number in northern Finland was 22, in northern Norway – 12 and northern Sweden – 11.

The situation is similar when it comes to homicides. Again, Northwest Russia is the by far most violent area. According to Patchwork Barents, the number of homicides in the region in 2010 amounted to as much as 17 per 100,000 inhabitant. The figure for northern Finland was 3, while northern Norway and northern Sweden had 2/100,000.

A report published in 2012 compares homicides in Finland and Sweden and bears witness of the trend. Co-author Johanna Hagstedt says to that Finland has more than twice as many homicides as Sweden mainly because of its drinking patters. According to the report, more than 82 percent of the perpetrators in Finland were intoxicated by alcohol in the act of murder, and 39 percent were described as alcoholics. In Sweden, a little more than half of all murderers were intoxicated, and a similar proportion of them were considered alcoholics, reports.

In Russia, interrelation between alcohol consumption and violence is the same, only with far more serious proportions.