In the United States, the minimum drinking age is 21. In most other parts of the world where drinking is accepted for adults, the minimum drinking age is 18. Most European countries set a standard for the legal drinking age to be 18.
In some countries, particularly the Mediterranean countries as well as France, the minimum drinking age is abandoned at family gatherings where alcohol is consumed as part of a celebration. It is not unusual for young people and even children to be given wine for celebratory purposes in these countries. Countries such as France, Italy, Greece and Spain are not as strict when it comes to enforcing underage drinking at family functions as well as celebrations.
There are some countries however, that have no set minimum age for drinking. Those countries that do restrict drinking to a certain age all restrict it to 18 in most, 21 in some countries. In other countries where religion forbids drinking, no alcoholic beverages can be consumed by children or adults. This is true in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, which has imposed a total ban on alcohol.
Three countries that have the lowest restrictions on alcohol drinking include:
Georgia: This former Soviet state does not set a limit on the legal drinking age. Minors can join with adults and drink alcohol in pubs as well as in private homes in Georgia.
Malta: This is another country where there is no set limit for drinking ages. Most of the facilities in this country will set limits in bars and clubs for adults to enter, but there is no nationwide restriction on drinking. Although many establishments set a limit of 18 for those to enter, there is no national law that states that minors cannot consume alcohol.
China: China has no minimum drinking age. Although alcohol abuse is not prevalent in China, there is no law regulating the age at which a person can take a drink.
The United States is not the only country where the drinking age is 21, although it is only one of a few. Other countries that have a strict drinking code when it comes to minors include Indonesia and Egypt. Several decades ago, it was up to each individual state in the United States to set drinking limits. Many of the states opted for the age of 18, particularly those that saw an influx of minors coming in for vacations. Hawaii, Wisconsin and many southern states had an 18 year old minimum drinking age until the national law was changed to make all legal drinking 21 or over.
Alcohol drinking among young people is considered to be a problem in many nations, including the United States. Studies indicate that there has been a decline in fatal drunk driving accidents since the drinking age was raised to 21. Critics of the drinking laws in the United States point out the fact that at age 18, a person is considered legally to be an adult, can be tried as an adult in a court of law, has the right to vote and also can be drafted for the military and therefore should be able to consume alcohol.