How can you determine how smart a country is? One option is to look at IQ scores, which measure a person’s reasoning and problem-solving abilities. However, it’s not entirely accurate as it lacks in certain areas such as comprehension.
You can also look at how much a country has invested in education and whether or not it’s maintained to a high standard. For example, education is often a priority in countries where self-improvement and studying are highly regarded.
On this page, we will be going with the former- aka countries with the highest average IQ scores. Having said that, we’ll also be touching upon their education systems.
The Top 10 Most Intelligent Countries In The World – 2024 List
Without further ado, here are the most intelligent countries based on the populations’ average IQ scores.
10. Germany – Average IQ Score: 100.74
Germany is one of the best-performing OECD countries in sciences, mathematics, and reading literacy. In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, the average student scores 515, which is nearly 20 points higher than the average score of 497.
Among socio-economically advantaged students, Germany also has one of the largest group of top performers. As a result, they have one of the highest-educated workforces in the world.
Like many European countries, Germany’s secondary education is split into lower and upper. Lower-secondary focuses on basic general education while upper-secondary consists of various vocational programs. The German secondary education system also includes five types of schools including the Abitur, which students attend after grade 12, and the Gymnasium, which is meant to prepare students for higher education.
It’s also worth mentioning that Germany has received 107 Nobel prizes, which puts it at number three, behind the United States and the UK.
9. Liechtenstein – Average IQ Score: 101.07
Liechtenstein is a landlocked country that’s located between Austria and Switzerland in Western Europe. With an average IQ score of 101.07, they outscore Germany slightly and are ranked number nine in the world in terms of intelligence.
Despite being a tiny country, Liechtenstein has one of the highest numbers of university graduates per capita worldwide. Not only that but they’re also home to a number of top-notch schools including the University of Liechtenstein; the International Academy of Philosophy, Liechtenstein; and the University for Human Sciences in the Principality of Liechtenstein.
That’s not all, they also have one of the lowest student-to-reacher ratios in the world (approximately 10:1). Research has shown that this can improve various non-cognitive skills including motivation self-control, and perseverance. In addition to that, small classes allow educators to work more closely with students; this can have profound effects on learning, especially during the initial years of schooling.
In 2006, a report coordinated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranked their education system as being the tenth best in the world. They also had the highest PISA test scores of any other European nation.
8. Finland – Average IQ Score: 101.2
Finland has consistently ranked high in terms of PISA test scores. In 2012, they ranked fifth in science, twelfth in mathematics, and sixth in reading. Not only that but their higher education was also ranked number one by the World Economic Forum.
As far as their educational system goes, it consists of a compulsory comprehensive school, which spans 11 years, from age seven to age eighteen.
According to one report, approximately 93 percent of students graduate from high school, which is nearly 20 percent higher than in the United States; this is especially impressive seeing as how they spend 30 percent less on education compared to the U.S. What’s more, is that 66 percent continue for higher education- the highest rate in all of Europe.
Teachers are also required to hold master’s degrees, which are fully subsidized by the Finnish government. They also value equality in that all students are in the same classroom, whether or not some are at a higher level.
Unlike the United States and other countries, Finland also has no private schools; every single one is publicly funded and each student has equal access to individual guidance, health care, and school meals, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
7. Belarus – Average IQ Score: 101.6
Belarus is one of the largest countries in Europe. According to a large sampling of the general population. they’re also one of the most intelligent, with an average IQ score of 101.6.
Not only that but they also took the 53rd position out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index, which puts it ahead of several other developed countries including Italy, Spain, and France. The country’s top-ranked learning institution, the Belarusian State University, is also among the top 300 out of over 30,000 universities in the world.
Since 1991, higher education has also been in constant growth with enrollment figures steadily growing. Currently, there are 42 state and 15 non-state university institutions across Belarus, many of which attract international students. Some of the most competitive and popular programs include those in law, economics, foreign languages, and management.
During the 2020/2021 academic year, Belarus had a total student population of 254,000, more than 94 percent of which attend a state-run university. The top five universities in Belarus include the Belarusian State University, Belarusian State Economic University, Belarusian National Technical University, and Yanka Kupala Grodno State University.
6. South Korea – Average IQ Score: 102.35
South Korea has consistently ranked high in terms of IQ scores. In fact, the average IQ score has only been going up over the past few years. In 2019, the country ranked sixth with an average IQ score of 102.35.
Unlike the education system in Western countries, South Korea requires students to attend school for nine months out of the year, from Mondays to Saturdays. The government also places a high value on education, which means educational fees are generally cheaper than those of other countries; they’re also open to local and international students.
In 2021, approximately 73 percent of high school graduates went on to study at a university. If anything, the country’s high university entrance rate has led to a highly skilled workforce. In fact, they are one of the most highly educated nations in the world, with one of the largest percentages of people holding a university degree.
While some have lauded South Korea for its rigorous educational system, it has also been criticized for stifling innovation and creativity. Some have also blamed it for the country’s high suicide rate.
5. People’s Republic of China – Average IQ Score: 104.1
China has one of the largest education systems in the world- one that sees millions of students every year. In 2022 alone, more than 11.9 million individuals took the higher education entrance exam. Not only that but they’re also one of the largest hosts of international students in the world.
They also have the “best” education system in the world, in terms of international test results. Take Shanghai, for example, they’ve been ranked number one in the world in three different categories: mathematics, reading, and science.
After-school tutoring is also popular, with over 80 percent of high school students attending some sort of class after school. Parents are also heavily involved with a student’s schoolwork, with many spending up to three to four hours every day monitoring them on homework.
As of 2022, there are more than 3,000 higher education institutions in China, including 147 prestigious National Key Universities, which receive support from the Chinese government. 26 Chinese universities are also among the global top 200, including Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, and the University of Science and Technology of China.
4. Hong Kong – Average IQ Score: 105.37
Hong Kong’s education system is very similar to the British system in that primary and junior secondary education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15. They also have a strong tertiary education system, one that ensures high-quality education from teachers who are knowledgeable and well-trained in their fields. Private international schools are also in high demand despite their high schooling and tuition fees.
Like China, Hong Kong is also known for their rigorous testing. Compared to Western countries, however, students often fare well, with many ranking at the top of international rankings.
Like many other Asian countries, however, the pressures of higher education cause many students to experience increased stress. If anything, this is fueled by the ideology that nothing in life can be accomplished without higher education. What’s worse, is that there are only a limited number of government-subsidized university spots each year (the government spent $14.9 billion USD on education for the 2022/23 calendar year).
In 2021, more than 92,000 students attended an undergraduate degree program at a university full-time.
3. Singapore – Average IQ Score: 105.9
Singapore ranks highly in both TIMSS and PISA tests, which measure science, mathematics, and English knowledge. This isn’t surprising seeing as how education is a priority in economic development (the government spends approximately 20 percent of its national budget on the education sector).
The education system is also different from those of other Asian countries in that it encourages creative thinking and project work. Teachers are also more hands-on, which helps to increase student performance. Not only that but they make sure that all students are finished with the syllabus before moving on to another subject.
The teachers, all of whom must attend the National Institute of Education, are also highly paid- much more so than their Western counterparts. For example, a high school teacher can expect to make $50,200 SGD a year.
From 2010 to 2020, the number of university graduates has also increased significantly, from 9 percent to 33 percent, with nearly 90 percent finding employment within six months of graduating. The percentage of Singapore workers with a university degree or higher has also gone up to 41.6 percent as of 2022.
2. Taiwan – Average IQ Score: 106.47
Taiwan is the second smartest country in the world, with an average IQ score of 106.47. While only the first nine years of schooling are mandatory by law, more than 95 percent of junior high students go on to attend a university, trade school, senior vocational high school, or junior college. They also have a high college acceptance rate of over 90 percent, which is the highest in Asia.
In 2015, students in Taiwan also outperformed their peers in science, literacy, and mathematics, in the PISA test, which evaluates the academic performance of 15-year-olds. In fact, they’re one of the top-performing countries with the average student scoring well above the average of 493 points. Given that, it’s not surprising to know that they also have a highly educated workforce, even among other OECD countries.
Many parents also believe that a good education is key to achieving success in life. In fact, it’s not uncommon for parents to actively intervene in their children’s scholastic progress by ensuring that they achieve top grades. Some may even go to extreme lengths to put their children through college.
1. Japan – Average IQ Score: 106.5
Japan dominates the list with an average IQ score of 106.48. One of the top-performing OECD countries, their students consistently rank among the top in sciences, reading literacy, and mathematics, with an average score of 520. Japanese society also places a high value on education, which many believe is key to gaining employment, especially those in the engineering and science sectors.
In 2020, more than 52.5 percent of 25 to 64 year olds held a tertiary education degree, with 61 percent of those between the ages of 25 and 34, having received tertiary education. More than 80.6 percent of high school students also attended university after graduating, with the remaining going to a correspondence school.
Cram schools, also known as “juku”, are also very popular, with more than 50 percent of junior high school students attending on weekdays. From there, most go on to attend a preparatory school in high school, which specializes in university entrance exam preparation. Unlike juku, they are geared toward specific universities and institutes.
The high school dropout rate is also incredibly low at 2 percent. In contrast, the United States’s average high school dropout rate is approximately 5 percent.