Have you ever wondered which are the smartest countries in the world? Although it is quite controversial to judge and rank a country for its intelligence, humankind has always had a desire to compare and list even such abstract concepts as intelligence. Naturally, any research method you apply to analyze someone’s mental capacity will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows. The point being that no matter how scientifically reliable the approach, measuring intelligence will always be a debatable issue.
On the other hand, there are indeed some aspects of human life that are easier to estimate and rank. If you are further interested in sociological and medical countdowns, you will surely enjoy our list on Country-by-Country Life Expectancy: The World’s 15 Healthiest Countries.
Now, coming back to the present list, as we previously mentioned, there are various ways to test the average intelligence of a country. Some countdowns are compiled after surveys which inquire about proficiency in literacy, numeracy and problem solving, quick and sharp thoughts, spontaneity, time management, technological advancement and even wealth. Nevertheless, all these parameters do not take into account the intelligence of individual people within that country.
This has to do with the theory of multiple intelligences, which rejects the idea of intelligence as a single general ability, but instead considers it a myriad of different modalities including musical, linguistic, spatial, logical, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. This theory is great to apply at a personal level, but the problem arises when we want to analyze this at the country level to determine which are the smartest countries in the world.
Hence, the parameters we chose for this countdown are the most mathematical that exists thus far to rate intelligence: the intelligence quotient, or better known as IQ. The IQ score is derived from a series of standardized tests that intend to rate human intelligence. The IQ scale classifies the different IQ scores as follows:
Over 140: Genius or almost genius
120 – 140: Very superior intelligence
110 – 119: Superior intelligence
90 – 109: Average or normal intelligence
80 – 89: Dullness
70 – 79: Borderline deficiency in intelligence
Under 70: Feeble-mindedness
The IQ data we used for this countdown was compiled and studied by a British psychologist, Richard Lynn, and a Finnish political scientist, Tatu Vanhanen, with the subsequent work of a Dutch psychologist, Jelte Wicherts. The original study was published in 2002 in a book called IQ and the Wealth of Nations, where the experts showed that the differences in income (GNP) of each country were closely related to their average IQ scores.
Let’s take a look at the countdown and find out which are the smartest countries in the world. Note that you can view the entirety of the article as a single page if you don’t want to click through each of the rankings individually. Just select See All below. Let the countdown begin!