Literacy Rate By Country 2021

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Literacy—the ability to read and write—is arguably the single most important factor in determining a person's career arc. For those who can read and write, the range of possible vocations is vast—even highly skilled, high-paying careers are within reach. For those who cannot, the options are extremely limited—even unskilled minimum-wage jobs can be difficult to obtain.

Literacy around the world

As a whole, the global literacy rate is high. The literacy rate for all males and females that are at least 15 years old is 86.3%. Males aged 15 and over have a literacy rate of 90%, while females lag only slightly behind at 82.7%.

However, massive country-to-country differences exist. Developed nations almost always have an adult literacy rate of 96% or better. In contrast, the least developed nations manage an average literacy rate of only 65%.

Direct country-to-country comparisons of literacy tend to be inexact. This is due mainly to two confounding factors: Many countries do not report their literacy every year, and many countries have mismatched definitions as to what qualifies as literacy.

With these inconsistencies in mind ...

Top 10 Most Literate Countries in the World:

  1. Uzbekistan - 2018 - 99.99%
  2. Ukraine - 2012 - 99.97%
  3. San Marino - 2018 - 99.92%
  4. Latvia - 2018 - 99.89%
  5. Estonia - 2011 - 99.89%
  6. Czech Republic - 2016 - 99.83%
  7. Lithuania - 2011 - 99.82%
  8. Tajikstan - 2014 - 99.80%
  9. Azerbaijan - 2017 - 99.79%
  10. Kazakhstan - 2018 - 99.78%

Top 10 Least Literate Countries in the World:

  1. Chad - 2016 - 22.31%
  2. Guinea - 2014 - 32.00%
  3. South Sudan - 2018 - 34.52%
  4. Niger - 2018 - 35.05%
  5. Mali - 2018 - 35.47%
  6. Central African Republic - 37.40%
  7. Burkina Faso - 2018 - 41.22%
  8. Benin - 2018 - 42.36%
  9. Afghanistan - 2018 - 43.02%
  10. Sierra Leone - 2018 - 43.21%

The relationship between literacy and poverty

Poverty and illiteracy tend to go hand-in-hand. Education is often less available in poverty-stricken areas. Moreover, even when education is available, a struggling family might need their children to work and earn money instead of going to school. Most of the countries with the lowest literacy are located in South Asia, West Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa—regions which also include most of the poorest countries in the world.

There is also a gender gap in literacy: Of the roughly 781 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write, nearly two-thirds are female.

This disparity is particularly noticeable in less-developed countries, in which women are often expected to stay at home and care for the house and children while the men go off to work. The developed nations of the world have much higher literacy rates with smaller gaps—if any—between the genders.

For a full list of the best available information on literacy rates around the world, see the table below.

Literacy Rate By Country 2021

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Literacy Rate By Country 2021

Country Literacy Rate 2021 Population
Uzbekistan100.00%33,935,763
North Korea100.00%25,887,041
Andorra100.00%77,355
Greenland100.00%56,877
Latvia99.90%1,866,942
San Marino99.90%34,017
Ukraine99.80%43,466,819
Poland99.80%37,797,005
Kazakhstan99.80%18,994,962
Cuba99.80%11,317,505
Azerbaijan99.80%10,223,342
Tajikistan99.80%9,749,627
Belarus99.80%9,442,862
Lithuania99.80%2,689,862
Estonia99.80%1,325,185
Russia99.70%145,912,025
Turkmenistan99.70%6,117,924
Armenia99.70%2,968,127
Slovenia99.70%2,078,724
Kyrgyzstan99.60%6,628,356
Barbados99.60%287,711
Moldova99.40%4,024,019
Georgia99.40%3,979,765
Tonga99.40%106,760
Croatia99.30%4,081,651
Hungary99.10%9,634,164
Cyprus99.10%1,215,584
Fiji99.10%902,906
Samoa99.10%200,149
Argentina99.00%45,605,826
Czech Republic99.00%10,724,555
Trinidad And Tobago99.00%1,403,375
Antigua And Barbuda99.00%98,731
Cayman Islands98.90%66,497
Romania98.80%19,127,774
Montenegro98.80%628,053
Uruguay98.70%3,485,151
Grenada98.60%113,021
Taiwan98.50%23,855,010
Bosnia And Herzegovina98.50%3,263,466
Spain98.40%46,745,216
Mongolia98.40%3,329,289
Serbia98.30%8,697,550
Marshall Islands98.30%59,610
Philippines98.20%111,046,913
Jordan98.20%10,269,021
Albania98.10%2,872,933
Costa Rica97.90%5,139,052
Israel97.80%8,789,774
North Macedonia97.80%2,082,658
Aruba97.80%107,204
Greece97.70%10,370,744
Maldives97.70%543,617
Bahrain97.50%1,748,296
Singapore97.30%5,896,686
Palestine97.20%5,222,748
Brunei97.20%441,532
Venezuela97.10%28,704,954
New Caledonia96.90%288,218
China96.80%1,444,216,107
Palau96.60%18,169
Macau96.50%658,394
Chile96.40%19,212,361
Turkey96.20%85,042,738
Kuwait96.10%4,328,550
Seychelles95.90%98,908
Indonesia95.70%276,361,783
Oman95.70%5,223,375
Mexico95.40%130,262,216
Panama95.40%4,381,579
Saudi Arabia95.30%35,340,683
Equatorial Guinea95.30%1,449,896
Colombia95.10%51,265,844
Lebanon95.10%6,769,146
Vietnam95.00%98,168,833
Malta94.50%442,784
Peru94.40%33,359,418
Suriname94.40%591,800
Paraguay94.00%7,219,638
Dominican Republic93.80%10,953,703
United Arab Emirates93.80%9,991,089
Malaysia93.70%32,776,194
Qatar93.50%2,930,528
Brazil93.20%213,993,437
Thailand92.90%69,950,850
Sao Tome And Principe92.80%223,368
Bolivia92.50%11,832,940
Puerto Rico92.40%2,828,255
Namibia91.50%2,587,344
Mauritius91.30%1,273,433
Libya91.00%6,958,532
Jamaica88.70%2,973,463
El Salvador88.50%6,518,499
Botswana88.50%2,397,241
Guyana88.50%790,326
Eswatini88.40%1,172,362
Vanuatu87.50%314,464
Honduras87.20%10,062,991
South Africa87.00%60,041,994
Cape Verde86.80%561,898
Zimbabwe86.50%15,092,171
Syria86.40%18,275,702
Iran85.50%85,028,759
Laos84.70%7,379,358
Gabon84.70%2,278,825
Tunisia81.80%11,935,766
Kenya81.50%54,985,698
Guatemala81.50%18,249,860
Algeria81.40%44,616,624
Cambodia80.50%16,946,438
Lesotho79.40%2,159,079
Tanzania77.90%61,498,437
Cameroon77.10%27,224,265
Ghana76.60%31,732,129
Eritrea76.60%3,601,467
Uganda76.50%47,123,531
Myanmar75.60%54,806,012
Madagascar74.80%28,427,328
India74.40%1,393,409,038
Bangladesh73.90%166,303,498
Morocco73.80%37,344,795
Rwanda73.20%13,276,513
Egypt71.20%104,258,327
Angola71.10%33,933,610
Yemen70.10%30,490,640
Burundi68.40%12,255,433
Nepal67.90%29,674,920
Bhutan66.60%779,898
Papua New Guinea64.20%9,119,010
Togo63.70%8,478,250
Malawi62.10%19,647,684
Nigeria62.00%211,400,708
Haiti61.70%11,541,685
Sudan60.70%44,909,353
Mozambique60.70%32,163,047
Guinea Bissau59.90%2,015,494
Pakistan59.10%225,199,937
Comoros58.80%888,451
Mauritania53.50%4,775,119
Senegal51.90%17,196,301
Ethiopia51.80%117,876,227
Gambia50.80%2,486,945
Iraq50.10%41,179,350
Liberia48.30%5,180,203
Ivory Coast47.20%27,053,629
Sierra Leone43.20%8,141,343
Afghanistan43.00%39,835,428
Benin42.40%12,451,040
Burkina Faso41.20%21,497,096
Central African Republic37.40%4,919,981
Mali35.50%20,855,735
South Sudan34.50%11,381,378
Guinea30.40%13,497,244
Chad22.30%16,914,985
Niger19.10%25,130,817

Literacy Rate By Country 2021