Smartest Countries 2021

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Determining which countries are the smartest in the world is difficult because there are so many different factors that can be considered.

  • Would the smartest country be the one with the most literate citizens?
  • Maybe the smartest countries in the world would be those whose residents had the highest average IQ score country-wide?
  • Or is the smartest country the one that has the highest percentage of extremely smart people?
  • Could it even be the country whose citizens have earned the most Nobel Prizes?
  • Standardized test scores could be another method of determining which nations are the smartest—if only it was possible to craft and administer a single standardized test that could accurately measure every aspect of intelligence in every person in every culture (and speaking every language) in every country.

Obviously, there exist challenges to any attempt to land on a single clear-and-simple answer. Nonetheless, population and intelligence experts continue to devise new methods and approaches that bring them closer and closer to a realistic ranking of the world's smartest countries.

Some of the best-known and more widely publicized studies of world intelligence are conducted by British psychologist Richard Lynn. In a 2019 study titled The Intelligence of Nations, Lynn and collaborator David Becker measured the average IQ of citizens across 132 nations and calculated estimated scores for another 71. The top of the list looks as follows (scroll to the table at the bottom of the page for the rest).

Top 10 Smartest Countries by IQ - Ulster Institute 2019:*

  1. Japan - 106.49
  2. Taiwan - 106.47
  3. Singapore - 105.89
  4. Hong Kong (China) - 105.37
  5. China - 104.10
  6. South Korea - 102.35
  7. Belarus - 101.60
  8. Finland - 101.20
  9. Liechtenstein - 101.07
  10. Netherlands & Germany (tie) - 100.74

*It would be irresponsible to neglect to mention that Lynn's studies, while arguably the most comprehensive available, often spark considerable debate. Some detractors take issue with the methods Lynn uses to compute estimates when hard data is unavailable. Others accuse Lynn, an outspoken eugenicist, of using his data to support scientifically inaccurate theories that promote white supremacist beliefs.

The Link between Education and Intelligence

Education and intelligence are closely linked, as a more robust educational system tends to produce a more intelligent populace over time. With this in mind, some studies use the educational rankings of various countries as a basis for comparisons of intelligence. In 2018, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its triennial PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results, which compared the reading, math, and science testing scores of more than 600,000 students in 79 countries. The top 10 appear below.

Top 10 Smartest Countries Based on Reading, Math and Science - OECD PISA 2018:

  1. China - 555, 591, 590
  2. Singapore - 549, 569, 551
  3. Macau (China) - 525, 558, 544
  4. Hong Kong (China) - 524, 551, 517
  5. Estonia - 523, 523, 530
  6. Canada - 520, 512, 518
  7. Finland - 520, 507, 522
  8. Ireland - 518, 500, 496
  9. Korea - 514, 526, 519
  10. Poland - 512, 516, 511

Another OECD study, which used multiple data points including adult education level, chose Canada as the most intelligent nation. Japan placed second, while Israel came in third. Other high-ranking nations include Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Finland.

One of the more creative studies of intelligence is the 2017 Intelligence Capital Index, or ICI, which used several factors to determine not the smartest nations overall, but which nations were most likely to leverage their smartest citizens' intelligence to "expand the frontier of knowledge and/or introduce the technologies and innovations of the knowledge economy ... Big Data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, etc."

In the ICI study, the United States ranked number one and was the only nation to receive an A+ rating. Coming in second place was the United Kingdom, followed by Germany in third place. Other high-ranking nations on the ICI include Australia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Finland, and Denmark.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Intelligence Capital Index - 2017:

  1. United States - 74.88 (A+)
  2. United Kingdom - 64.19 (A)
  3. Germany - 64.18 (A)
  4. Australia - 63.96 (A)
  5. Singapore - 63.60 (A)
  6. Sweden - 61.58 (A)
  7. Switzerland - 61.57 (A)
  8. Canada - 61.15 (A)
  9. Finland - 60.45 (A)
  10. Denmark - 60.25 (A)

Here are the 10 countries with the highest IQs:

  1. Japan (106.48)
  2. Taiwan (106.47)
  3. Singapore (105.89)
  4. Hong Kong (105.37)
  5. China (104.1)
  6. South Korea (102.35)
  7. Belarus (101.6)
  8. Finland (101.2)
  9. Liechtenstein (101.07)
  10. Germany (100.74)

Smartest Countries 2021

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Smartest Countries 2021

Country IQ 2021 Population
Japan106.48126,050,804
Taiwan106.4723,855,010
Singapore105.895,896,686
Hong Kong105.377,552,810
China104.11,444,216,107
South Korea102.3551,305,186
Belarus101.69,442,862
Finland101.25,548,360
Liechtenstein101.0738,250
Netherlands100.7417,173,099
Germany100.7483,900,473
Estonia100.721,325,185
Luxembourg99.87634,814
Macau99.82658,394
Cambodia99.7516,946,438
Canada99.5238,067,903
Switzerland99.248,715,494
Hungary99.249,634,164
Australia99.2425,788,215
United Kingdom99.1268,207,116
Greenland98.8956,877
North Korea98.8225,887,041
Slovenia98.62,078,724
New Zealand98.574,860,643
Austria98.389,043,070
Iceland98.26343,353
Denmark97.835,813,298
Belgium97.4911,632,326
United States97.43332,915,073
Norway97.135,465,630
Sweden9710,160,169
France96.6965,426,179
Poland96.3537,797,005
Slovakia96.325,460,721
Russia96.29145,912,025
Lithuania95.892,689,862
Croatia95.754,081,651
Andorra95.277,355
Ireland95.134,982,907
Czech Republic94.9210,724,555
Latvia94.791,866,942
Italy94.2360,367,477
New Caledonia93.92288,218
Vanuatu93.92314,464
Spain93.946,745,216
Bermuda93.4862,090
Cyprus93.391,215,584
Portugal92.7710,167,925
Israel92.438,789,774
Barbados91.6287,711
Malta91.27442,784
Myanmar91.1854,806,012
Mongolia91.033,329,289
Bulgaria90.996,896,663
Greece90.7710,370,744
Suriname90.29591,800
Ukraine90.0743,466,819
Moldova89.984,024,019
Serbia89.68,697,550
Vietnam89.5398,168,833
Iraq89.2841,179,350
Uzbekistan89.0133,935,763
Kazakhstan88.8918,994,962
Thailand88.8769,950,850
Armenia88.822,968,127
Bosnia And Herzegovina88.543,263,466
Costa Rica88.345,139,052
Bhutan87.94779,898
Chile87.8919,212,361
Mexico87.73130,262,216
Tajikistan87.719,749,627
Uruguay87.593,485,151
Brunei87.58441,532
Malaysia87.5832,776,194
Bahamas86.99396,913
Romania86.8819,127,774
Turkey86.885,042,738
Argentina86.6345,605,826
Sri Lanka86.6221,497,310
Mauritius86.561,273,433
Turkmenistan85.866,117,924
Montenegro85.78628,053
Trinidad And Tobago85.631,403,375
Azerbaijan84.8110,223,342
Georgia84.53,979,765
Turks And Caicos Islands84.2939,231
Paraguay84.047,219,638
Cook Islands83.9617,565
Marshall Islands83.9659,610
Tonga83.96106,760
Micronesia83.96116,254
Kiribati83.96121,392
Samoa83.96200,149
Solomon Islands83.96703,996
Fiji83.96902,906
Cuba83.911,317,505
Bahrain83.61,748,296
Brazil83.38213,993,437
Guyana83.23790,326
Colombia83.1351,265,844
Venezuela82.9928,704,954
Cayman Islands82.2466,497
Afghanistan82.1239,835,428
Haiti82.111,541,685
United Arab Emirates82.059,991,089
Dominican Republic82.0510,953,703
Puerto Rico81.992,828,255
North Macedonia81.912,082,658
Albania81.752,872,933
Lebanon81.76,769,146
Philippines81.64111,046,913
Peru81.4433,359,418
Northern Mariana Islands81.3657,917
Laos80.997,379,358
Libya80.926,958,532
Qatar80.782,930,528
Jordan80.710,269,021
Maldives80.54543,617
Iran80.0185,028,759
Pakistan80225,199,937
Grenada79.34113,021
Tunisia79.2211,935,766
Kyrgyzstan79.096,628,356
Panama794,381,579
Chad78.8716,914,985
Sudan78.8744,909,353
Seychelles78.7698,908
Oman78.75,223,375
Kuwait78.644,328,550
Timor Leste78.491,343,873
Papua New Guinea78.499,119,010
Indonesia78.49276,361,783
Ecuador78.2617,888,475
Palestine77.695,222,748
Senegal77.3717,196,301
Comoros77.07888,451
Madagascar76.7928,427,328
British Virgin Islands76.6930,421
Bolivia76.5311,832,940
Uganda76.4247,123,531
Saudi Arabia76.3635,340,683
Egypt76.32104,258,327
India76.241,393,409,038
Algeria7644,616,624
Kenya75.254,985,698
Angola75.133,933,610
Jamaica75.082,973,463
Tanzania74.9561,498,437
Syria74.4118,275,702
Bangladesh74.33166,303,498
Zimbabwe74.0115,092,171
Burkina Faso73.821,497,096
Saint Lucia73.68184,400
Mozambique72.532,163,047
Burundi72.0912,255,433
Niger70.8225,130,817
Saint Kitts And Nevis70.4853,544
Antigua And Barbuda70.4898,731
Rwanda69.9513,276,513
Benin69.7112,451,040
Malawi69.719,647,684
El Salvador69.636,518,499
Botswana69.452,397,241
Eswatini68.871,172,362
Lesotho68.872,159,079
South Africa68.8760,041,994
Eritrea68.773,601,467
Zambia68.4318,920,651
Ethiopia68.42117,876,227
Djibouti68.411,002,187
Cameroon67.7627,224,265
Nigeria67.76211,400,708
Somalia67.6716,359,504
Morocco67.0337,344,795
Namibia66.192,587,344
Dominica66.0372,167
Sao Tome And Principe65.22223,368
DR Congo64.9292,377,993
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines63.42111,263
Gabon62.972,278,825
Republic of the Congo62.975,657,013
Yemen62.8630,490,640
Belize62.55404,914
Central African Republic62.554,919,981
Honduras62.1610,062,991
Togo59.838,478,250
Mauritania59.764,775,119
Mali59.7620,855,735
South Sudan58.6111,381,378
Ivory Coast58.1627,053,629
Ghana58.1631,732,129
Guinea53.4813,497,244
Nicaragua52.696,702,385
Gambia52.682,486,945
Cape Verde52.5561,898
Guatemala47.7218,249,860
Liberia45.075,180,203
Sierra Leone45.078,141,343
Nepal42.9929,674,920

Smartest Countries 2021