Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a measure of human intelligence. People who want to have their IQ measured take standardized tests and receive a score that ranks their intelligence level. The higher one’s IQ score, the more intelligent that person is considered to be.
IQ scores typically reflect the quality of education and resources available to people in their local geographic region. Areas of the world with lower IQ scores are typically poorer and less developed, particularly in the area of education, compared to countries with higher IQ scores. Many researchers also use IQ to determine the smartest countries in the world. The IQ map above shades each country depending on how high the average IQ score is.
According to a 2019 study by researchers Richard Lynn and David Becker at the Ulster Institute, the highest average IQ scores in the world belong to the Japanese, with the citizens of Taiwan and Singapore close behind. The top 10 list appears below, and the full rankings appear in the table further down this page.
It bears mentioning that Lynn’s studies, while comprehensive, tend to spark considerable debate. Some researchers dispute the techniques Lynn employs to calculate estimates when hard data is lacking. Others claim Lynn, an unabashed eugenicist, misinterprets his data to support conclusions that are both scientifically inaccurate and supportive of white supremacy.
As the data demonstrates, there is a wide range of average IQ scores across the globe. Some researchers divide the world’s countries into ranked categories based on their average IQ scores. These averages were obtained by starting with the country’s average score in standard IQ tests (a common starting point), then fine-tuning those scores with additional measurements, such as national math, reading, and science assessments, while also factoring in the overall quality of the data.
However, it’s important to remember that IQ isn’t the only way to measure intelligence. There are actually many different ways to seek out the smartest countries in the world, and many of them have nothing to do with average IQ. For instance, you could compare each country’s academic test scores, its likelihood of expanding the frontier of knowledge and introducing new data technologies (Intelligence Capital Index), or even the number of Nobel Prizes each country has won. In fact, you could even combine all three stats.