Prohibition is a legal act outlawing the manufacturing, sale and transport of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. In history, this terms is used for times when countries would ban alcohol. This idea goes back to the Xia Dynasty (ca. 2070 BC - ca. 1600 BC) in China when Yu the Great, the first ruler of the dynasty, prohibited alcohol in the kingdom. It was later legalized after his death.
Since, prohibition has happened in many European nations including Norway, Iceland, Hungary and also Russia and the Soviet Union.
In the U.S., prohibition was instituted with the use of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on the 16th of January, 1919. Congress also passed the Volstead Act to enforce the law, but major cities ignored the legislature due to the costs of chasing down bootleggers so the federal services had to do the job with limited resources. During this time, alcohol was still very available as shipments would be smuggled in through the Canadian border, overland, and by sea along the coasts. Alcohol consumption did decline but some cities saw an increase in drinking as well as organized crime related to production and sale of alcohol. There was an increase in Malt and Hop stores that sold malt extract syrup claiming it was for baking purposes.
Prohibition was later repealed with the passage of the Twenty first Amendment to the Constitution on December 5th, 1933. The cause was the Great Depression during which prohibition became unpopular and a wealthy republican, Pauline Sabin, pushed for it's repeal. With the new Amendment, states were allowed to set their own laws pertaining to alcohol control. Prohibition was dead nationwide but some laws survived a while in southern and border states.