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20 Countries of the World and their National Pastimes

There are hundreds of countries around the globe. One of the cultural identifiers of nations around the world is their national pastime or sport. It is what keeps the country entertained. In times of global tournaments, it unites the nation in solidarity.

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Photo: Adobe Stock Photography

There are hundreds of countries around the globe. One of the cultural identifiers of nations around the world is their national pastime or sport. It is what keeps the country entertained. In times of global tournaments, it unites the nation in solidarity. In this listicle, we will look at the national pastime of 20 countries around the world. In future listicles, we will consider more national pastimes that are not mentioned in this list. Let’s dive right into it:

#1. Afghanistan (Buzkashi)

Horsemen Competing at Buzkashi on 500 Afghani 1979 Banknote from Afghanistan.

Buzkashi is the national pastime of the country of Afghanistan. It is performed by mounted horsemen in opposing teams who are striving for the possession of a calf or goat carcass. The aim is to place the animal remains in a specific goal drawn on the field. It is a highly aggressive sport and originated among the nomadic tribes of Central Asia.

#2. Argentina (Pato)

The Argentinian game of Pato

Pato is a fusion of Basketball and Polo, involving two teams four on horseback, attempting to put a ball through a vertically inclined hoop hanging from a 9-feet (2.7 meters) high pole. Pato was initially played with a live duck; however, a ball is now used in the sport (NB. The ball has six large leather handles, as seen in the picture above). The game involves two teams four on horseback, each required to score the highest number of goals before the game duration elapses.

#3. Australia (Cricket)

Cricket player batsman

In Australia, Cricket is widely played and is considered as the National Sport of the Island Country Down Under. The game of Cricket is played by two teams of 11 members each that is performed on a course having two wickets 22 yards (20 meters) apart. 

The Australian Cricketing Team, 1888

The dictionary does some justice in explaining the objective of the game. The aim is to score the highest runs, within a specific number of overs, by striking the ball as far as possible, so that one is enabled to swap wickets with the batsman defending the opposite wicket before the ball is recovered.

The Australian Cricketing Team, 1893

The game of cricket is growing in leaps and bounds in the Country Down Under. The Australian Census reveals a record-shattering 9% increase from the previous year in the number of those that are actively engaged in cricket competitions or programs—an astonishing 1,558,821 Australians participate in the sport. This further solidifies its hold as the favorite national pastime of Australia.

#4. Brazil (Capoeira)

Pair of capoeira performers doing a kicking demonstration

This sport is a form of martial arts which is a fusion of various elements of acrobatics, dance, and music. Capoeira was a prohibited dance among the blacks during the slave trade era in Brazil. The dance has survived into the 21st century, becoming one of the most recognizable symbols of Brazilian culture.

#5. Canada (Ice Hockey and Lacrosse)

Depending on the season, Ice Hockey and Lacrosse are the national and most popular pastimes in the nation of Canada. 

Ice Hockey–Canada’s scream time in the winter tonic!

The Canadian Winter Sport is Ice Hockey, and as the name implies, is played on ice between two teams of six skaters each. The goal is to score goals or points by hitting a puck into the opposing teams’ cage using a stick with a wooden blade fixed at an obtuse angle to the shaft.

The Canadian Summer Sport is Lacrosse

The Canadian Summer Sport is Lacrosse, which is played on grass. The game was originated by Indians of North America. In the game, two teams made up of 10 members tries to send a small ball into each other’s netted goal. Each of the players in the two opposing sides is equipped with a Crosse or stick which has a netted pocket for catching, carrying, or throwing the ball.

#6. Chile (Chilean Rodeo)

Huasos at it at a Chilean Rodeo Tournament

In the Chilean Rodeo, two riders, which are called Huasos, on horses are expected to ride laps around an arena to stop a calf by pinning it against large cushions. The riders score points when the steer is driven successfully around the corral (i.e., called medialuna).

#7. Dominican Republic (Baseball)

Baseball Player with a blue uniform coming out of a blast of smoke .

In the Dominican Republic, baseball is the common sport and considered the official game and widely known as Pelota. Many baseball players from this country have ended up playing in the American Major League Baseball (MLB) league.

#8. Finland (Pesäpallo)

Source: YouTube/Ninh Ly

Often regarded as Finnish baseball, this sport involves a bat and a ball.  The game is very similar to baseball, brännboll, and lapta. However, in Pesäpallo, the ball is pitched vertically and with less power than in baseball. The batting team has 12 players while the defending team has 9.

#9. Grenada (Cricket)

Cricket batsman hitting a ball shot from below against a blue sky

In Grenada, Cricket is considered the official sport and is very popular in this part of the World. (NB. For a description of how the game is played, please see above under Australia).

#10. India (Field Hockey)

Close up of two field hockey players, challenging each other for the control and possession of the ball during an intense, competitive match on a professional level

In India, field hockey is a national favorite. The game of field hockey has its origins in the Middle Ages from England, Scotland, France and the Netherlands. Field Hockey is played on a rectangular grass, turf, or synthetic field as wells as indoor board surface. Whatever the surface of choice, there is a netted goal at each end of the pitch. There is a pair of teams with 11 players each that strive to drive a small leather-covered ball into the other’s goal.  Each team member is furnished with a stick that has a curved end or blade that is flat on one side and rounded on the other.

#11. Jamaica (Cricket)

The Cricketing Cricketeer

The official sport of the Jamaicans is Cricket and is played as in other countries, with two opposing teams of eleven players each. (NB. For a description of how the game is played, please see above under Australia).

#12. Korea Republic (Taekwondo)


This sport is a form of Korean Martial Arts and included a certain degree of Chinese and Korean Martial Arts. Taekwondo is the national pastime of the two Koreas—South and North. It is a particularly aggressive form of karate, that utilizes punches, jabs, chops, blocking and choking moves, and particularly powerful, leaping kicks.

#13. Lithuania (Basketball)

Two basketball players in action in gym in lights

In Lithuania, basketball is considered the national sport and is a highly competitive game with many participants playing for fame and glory. The game of basketball comprises of two teams made up of five players each on the two opposing sides playing at one time on the rectangular wood floor court with a raised basket or goal at each end. There are also substitute players that the team coach exchanges from time to time during the four 12 minutes quarters. Points are scored in the game by tossing the round, inflated ball, approximately 30 inches (76 cm) in circumference, through the opponent’s basket. The winner of the game is the team that scores the most cumulative score at the end of the four quarters. Despite being the national pastime of Lithuania, it is also quite popular in the United States of America.

#14. Mexico (Charreria)

Charreria—The Mexican Pastime

Charreria looks very much like the rodeo; however, the point of difference is that unlike rodeos, the winners are not awarded any financial rewards. The pastime, like the rodeo, it involves calf roping and the display of skills by the horsemen or Charros. Both male and female can participate as they “compete against each other in daring encounters of horsemanship.” It is considered the official sport of Mexico and plays an integral part in the Country’s culture and heritage.

#15. New Zealand (Rugby Union)

Athletes, Rugby players running in the rain around the stadium with the ball—wrestling all the way

Rugby Union is the national pastime of the country of New Zealand. For more than a century, it has been participated in by a large percentage of the Country’s population. The game is also called rugger, or Rugby football. This form of football is played between two teams of 15 members each. However, this game differs from soccer in the freedom of play in which players can carry the ball, block with the hands and arms, and tackle. The game of rugby is characterized chiefly by continuous action and prohibition against the use of substitute players. Rugby is a very aggressive game.

#16. Norway (Cross Country Skiing)

Cross country skiing competition

Cross Country Skiing is the national pastime of the country of Norway.  In this sport, the skiers are required to depend on their locomotion gears to move across expansive terrains of snow covered mountains.

#17. Peru (Paleta Fronton)

Men playing Paleta Fronton

In Peru, this sport goes way back to the “pelota vasca,” which was introduced into the Peruvian society by Spanish conquistadors. In playing this game, a black rubber ball is used. The Federación Peruana de Paleta Frontón (FDPPF) is at the helm of affairs of regulating the sport.

#18. Sri Lanka (Volleyball)

Female professional volleyball players on grand court in highlights

In Sri Lanka, it is ubiquitous to see two teams of six players each compete against each other in the game of Volleyball. The objective is to keep a large ball in motion, from side to side over a high net, by striking it with the hands before it touches the ground. The team with the highest points win. This sport is considered as the national sport of Sri Lanka.

#19. United Kingdom (Rugby Union)

Rugby—The UK Pastime

The United Kingdom and Wales have a Rugby Union which represents the two countries. The game is trendy in these parts and is participated in by many teams. (NB. For a description of how the game is played, please see above under New Zealand).

#20. United States (Baseball)  

Professional baseball players on the grand arena

In the United States, more people participate in Baseball both as competitors and as spectators.  Although of recent, attention seems to be shifting to American football and basketball (or American Football), baseball is still considered a national sport.

As earlier stipulated, this listicle is not at all exhaustive as we did not cover every single national pastime of all nations across the globe. In future articles, we will be looking at more countries and their national sports. 

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Ogbonnaya Agom-Eze is an entrepreneur and the Founder, CEO, Editor-In-Chief of Oaekpost, LLC, a U.S.-based online media company and the parent organization of He is a multi-niche writer with a wide range of interests in various genres. Agom-Eze is based in the Greater Seattle Area, Washington, and can be reached at

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