SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - In a growing campaign to refer to November as "Movember," men around the world are being encouraged to grow a mustache for 30 days to raise awareness and funds for prostate and testicular cancer.
Men's website AskMen.com has come up with its list of the 10 most mustache-dense countries to mark the fund-raising campaign that is believed to have started in Australia in 1999.
For even though the United States was the clear winner at the World Beard and Mustache Championships held in Anchorage, Alaska, in May this year, capturing 12 world titles out of 18 categories, it is not the most mustache-dense nation.
The United States dethroned Germany which had dominated the competition since it started in the 1990s.
The list was compiled by the website's editors (here) and is not endorsed by Reuters:
Some estimates suggest as many as 80 percent of men in southern India wear moustaches, which immediately places that one region above most countries in terms of mustache-wearing men. Moustaches have long held an important place in Indian culture, seen as a symbol of virility. An Indian also holds the title of the world's longest mustache, measured in 2004 at 12.5 feet.
Mexico has long had a very masculine culture, and icons such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa may have had an influential role to play when it comes to growing moustaches. Going further back, many indigenous peoples did not grow facial hair, so when the European settlers arrived, it may have been a way of demonstrating their different social status.
Pakistan has the second-largest Muslim population in the world, with around 173 million Muslims, and religion plays a role in the prominence of facial hair. Many famous Pakistanis have had moustaches, such as the national poet Mohammed Iqbal, the cricketer Javed Miandad, the former President Pervez Musharraf and the current incumbent Asif Ali Zardari.
Germany's population of 83 million has a long and proud history of wearing moustaches, from the statesman Bismarck, to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to Albert Einstein. Germany has more clubs affiliated with the World Beard and Mustache Championships than any other nation. 5. Iran
Iran's population of 70 million has a very large Shi'ite Muslim majority. A lot of famous figures in Iran sport facial hair. The ayatollah and president both wear full beards, while icons such as the soccer star Ali Daei is famous for his mustache.
As with many Muslim nations, facial hair is popular. Major Egyptian political figures have also been prominent mustache fans -- President Nasser and President Anwar El Sadat may have helped to popularize the mustache as a facial accompaniment.
In recent years, as Turkey has sought to become more closely integrated into the European economy, more and more men have shed their moustaches in a bid to appear modern and professional. But the mustache still plays an important role among in Turkish society and there is almost certainly a religious element as well.
8. United States
It is estimated by mustache historians that around 10 million men in America currently sport a mustache. At the last World Beard and Mustache Championships, held in Anchorage, Alaska, in May 2009, the United States topped the medal table, winning in every one of the mustache competitions.
You know a country has a reputation for moustaches when it gets its own category of facial hair in the World Championships. The Hungarian mustache, known to some as the Wild West mustache, reflects the popularity of the mustache in the country over the course of history.
Bulgarians' love of the mustache is bettered only by their loves of music, soccer and volleyball. Having spent many years under the influence of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria has transformed itself in recent times. Whether the mustache is set to go the same way as the Communist government of the pre-1990s remains to be seen.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith