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This Ranking Of The Smartest Nations In The World Has Some People In Disbelief

Ever wondered which of the world’s nations is the smartest? We have, so we’ve put in some research and come up with a league table of the 40 smartest countries on Earth. Take a look at our list; some of the entries may even come as a bit of a surprise.

For our ranking, we looked at the number of Nobel laureates by country and the World Population Review's rankings of every country's average IQ and education rank. This gave us the top 55 smartest countries on the planet. Each country was then awarded points for where they ranked for each metric (55pts for finishing 1st, 54pts for finishing 2nd, and so on). The points for each country were added together to find its final "Ranking Score" — and its position in our poll. Enjoy!

40. Egypt

Average IQ: 76

Education rank: 39

Number of Nobel Laureates: 4

Ranking Score: 55

According to the Worldometer website there are 195 countries in the world, so ranking at number 40 in our table of the smartest nations is actually not that bad. Egypt has a culture dating back to ancient times — think of the Great Pyramids — so it’s had smart people through the millennia. Today it’s not a wealthy nation, so its placing in the table is no disgrace. 

39. Latvia

Average IQ: 95

Education rank: 50

Nobel Laureates: 1

Ranking Score: 56

Latvia is one of the Baltic nations that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. You’ll notice that in terms of education, Latvia ranks a fair bit lower than its final overall position. But the Latvians overcome the shortcomings in their education system with a high average IQ score.

38. Romania

Average IQ: 87

Education rank: 47

Nobel Laureates: 5

Ranking Score: 61

This south-eastern European country has borders with no fewer than five countries as well as a coastline overlooking the Black Sea. Romania is another nation that overthrew a communist dictator back at the end of the 1980s. Some hard economic times followed, but despite their troubles the Romanians have produced five Nobel Laureates from a population of only 19 million. 

37. South Africa

Average IQ: 69

Education rank: 33

Nobel Laureates: 11

Ranking Score: 63

For decades, the South Africans had to put up with the tyranny of apartheid, which obviously badly affected the academic achievement of its ethnically black population. But that racist system of governance was finally swept away when Nelson Mandela was elected its president in 1994. The result? South Africa now comes in at a respectable 33rd in world education ratings.

36. Turkey

Average IQ: 87

Education rank: 31

Nobel Laureates: 2

Ranking Score: 63

The Turkish capital, Istanbul, has the unique distinction of actually straddling two continents, Europe and Asia. And perhaps that diversity goes some way to explaining the nation’s intelligence level, with a creditable average IQ score of 87. The fact that Turkey has the youngest population of any European nation means that a high proportion of its people have benefited from a modern education. 

35. Mexico

Average IQ: 88

Education rank: 37

Nobel Laureates: 3

Ranking Score: 64

Southern neighbor to the U.S., Mexico’s overall ranking is a couple of places higher than its education score merits. So Mexican folks, even with a less-than-perfect education system, still manage to show a high level of intelligence. Why? Perhaps it’s something in the water or the deliciously spicy cuisine?

34. Slovenia

Average IQ: 99

Education rank: 53

Nobel Laureates: 1

Ranking Score: 66

Slovenia sits in south-central Europe with Italy to the west, Croatia to the south, Hungary to the east and Austria to the north. There’s also a small coastline overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The country presents a real anomaly, since its education system is ranked 53rd in the world yet it comes 34th in overall intelligence rating. That, though, can probably be explained by Croatia’s high average IQ score.

33. Argentina

Average IQ: 86.63

Education rank: 34

Nobel Laureates: 5

Ranking Score: 67

Argentina is famed for its rolling pampas and the delicious steaks its cattle provide. But there’s much more to the nation than that — turns out the folks are pretty smart as well. Perhaps there’s a connection between the prime beef cuts and the intelligence? Although their education system, ranked 34th in the world, is probably the real reason.

32. India

Average IQ: 76

Education rank: 32

Nobel Laureates: 12

Ranking Score: 69

One of the world’s earliest city civilizations arose in India in the Indus Valley some 5,000 years ago, so the country has had plenty of time to develop a sophisticated intelligence. Evidence for this comes in the high number of Nobel Laureates that have come India’s way. India is credited with a total of 12 Laureates — an impressive achievement by any measure in a nation where most still live by farming.

31. Croatia

Average IQ: 96

Education rank: 43

Nobel Laureates: 2

Ranking Score: 70

When the former nation of Yugoslavia dissolved in chaos back in the early 1990s, one of the new countries that emerged was Croatia. Although its present incarnation is recent, in fact Croatia has a long history as a territory with a coastline overlooking the Adriatic Sea towards north-eastern Italy. And with an average IQ score of 96, there are plenty of clever Croats. 

30. Ukraine

Average IQ: 90

Education rank: 40

Nobel Laureates: 6

Ranking Score: 73

Despite its toxic relationship with its eastern neighbor, the Russian Federation, Ukraine has managed to hold its own in the intelligence rankings. Strangely, at 40 its education ranking is well below its final place in the smartest countries table. Yet it still holds onto a respectable position of 30th in the final rating, helped no doubt by the six Ukrainian Nobel Laureates.

29. Greece

Average IQ: 91

Education rank: 28

Nobel Laureates: 2

Ranking Score: 74

Often identified as the cradle of Western civilization, ancient Greece contributed an enormous amount to modern culture. The Greeks have been credited with creating everything from democracy to important aspects of modern math, and not forgetting the Olympic Games. So it’s no surprise to find contemporary Greece appearing at number 29 in our table of intelligence.

28. Lithuania

Average IQ: 96

Education rank: 42

Nobel Laureates: 3

Ranking Score: 76

One of the nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union before its collapse, Lithuania is one of the countries clustered on the eastern edge of the Baltic Sea. With a high average IQ of 96, this small nation — with a population of just 2.6 million — scores well in the overall intelligence table. And despite its size, it can lay claim to three Nobel Laureates.

27. Portugal

Average IQ: 93

Education rank: 25

Nobel Laureates: 2

Ranking Score: 81

A popular vacation destination for many with its striking scenery and Atlantic coastline, Portugal comes in at number 27 in our table. It was the first European nation to sail around the world at scale, with sea voyages to Africa, Asia and the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries. Under an extremist dictatorship from 1926 until its overthrow in 1974, Portugal has flourished under democracy. 

26. Belarus

Average IQ: 102

Education rank: 52

Nobel Laureates: 2

Ranking Score: 82

Another one of the nations that came into being with the demise of the Soviet Union, landlocked Belarus lies on the Russian Federation’s eastern border. In fact, when the current nation of Belarus was formed in 1991, it was the first time the country had ever been independent, apart from a short while in 1918. Now, with an impressive average IQ of 102, it ranks a respectable 26th among the world’s smartest nations. 

25. Israel

Average IQ: 92

Education rank: 24

Nobel Laureates: 13

Ranking Score: 98

Regarded by many Jewish people as their ancestral homeland, the middle-eastern State of Israel was formed in 1948. It was a troubled birth, immediately followed by war with neighboring Arab countries. All the same, Israel prevailed and today earns its high ranking in the intelligence table. That position is at least partly thanks to the number of Nobel Laureates that the country has produced: no fewer than 13.

24. Spain

Average IQ: 94

Education rank: 17

Nobel Laureates: 8

Ranking Score: 98

People from northern Europe flock to Spain during the vacation season for the glorious beaches and dependable sunshine. This Mediterranean nation figures quite high in the intelligence league at 24th, and can also lay claim to eight Nobel Laureates, a healthy total. The country has thrived after years of stagnation under a fascist regime which was superseded by democracy in the 1970s.

23. Ireland

Average IQ: 95

Education rank: 20

Nobel Laureates: 11

Ranking Score: 101

The Republic of Ireland, occupying most of the island of Ireland, enjoyed an economic renaissance after joining the European Union in 1972. Its place in our table of the smartest countries is assured by a high average IQ and by its total of eight Nobel Laureates. That number of Laureates is especially impressive since Ireland’s population numbers just 5 million.

22. South Korea

Average IQ: 102

Education rank: 19

Nobel Laureates: 1

Ranking Score: 105

South Korea was born after the horrors of the Korean War in the 1950s when the peninsula was split into two countries. Unsurprisingly, North Korea, laboring under a baleful dictatorship, does not appear in the rankings of our table. But South Korea has flourished, especially in recent years, and has a thriving technology industry that exports products around the world. It’s an innovation world-leader, helped by its high average IQ score of 102.

21. Poland

Average IQ: 93

Education rank: 26

Nobel Laureates: 18

Ranking Score: 108

Although ostensibly an independent nation after WWII, Poland only emerged from under the shadow of totalitarianism after the collapse of communism. With a population of about 38 million, the country has managed to produce 18 Nobel Laureates, a thoroughly respectable total. And a nation which boasts 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites must surely have an historic reservoir of smarts.

20. Belgium

Average IQ: 97

Education rank: 18

Nobel Laureates: 11

Ranking Score: 113

Belgium had a difficult 20th century, with fierce battles fought on its territory during both World Wars. But it survived its unfortunate geographical situation and even thrived with this decent placing in the world intelligence table. And its 11 Nobel Laureates have come in fields as diverse as literature, medicine, and chemistry.

19. New Zealand

Average IQ: 99

Education rank: 11

Nobel Laureates: 3

Ranking Score: 113

New Zealand proved that it was an extremely smart country back in 1893. That was the year that the nation gave women the right to vote, the first country in the world to do so. American women had to wait until 1920 to win that basic right. So New Zealand is about much more than just plentiful sheep and Lord of the Rings locations. 

18. Italy

Average IQ: 94

Education rank: 14

Nobel Laureates: 21

Ranking Score: 114

Any country that gave us the Roman Empire, as Italy did, must be pretty smart, you’d have to think. Of course, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since those days of imperial glory. But Italy can hold its head high with a respectable mid-table place in the top-40 intelligence rankings. Plus, 21 Nobel Laureates is something in which Italians can take pride. 

17. Hungary

Average IQ: 99

Education rank: 30

Nobel Laureates: 13

Ranking Score: 114

A landlocked country pretty much bang in the center of Europe, Hungary cast off a communist dictatorship in favor of parliamentary democracy back in 1990. When it comes to intelligence the Hungarian people boast a high score of 99 in average IQ. Perhaps all that hearty Hungarian goulash might be an important factor?

16. Russia

Average IQ: 96

Education rank: 23

Nobel Laureates: 32

Ranking Score: 117

The Russian Federation, the remnants of the erstwhile Soviet Union, at one time led the world in space travel. That obviously required plenty of brain power. But that was back in the 1950s when the country launched Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the Earth. Later the U.S overtook the Russians during the 1960s, climaxing with the Apollo 11 moon landing. Still, Russia has a fairly high placing in our table, and it can boast 32 Nobel Laureates. 

15. Norway

Average IQ: 97

Education rank: 13

Nobel Laureates: 13

Ranking Score: 121

Of course Norway gave us the Vikings. But there’s much more to this country’s rich heritage and culture than raiding and pillaging. The country’s high average I.Q of 97 is accompanied by a roster of 13 Nobel Laureates. That Laureate tally is not bad at all for a nation with a population of just 5.5 million or so.

14. China

Average IQ: 104

Education rank: 22

Nobel Laureates: 9

Ranking Score: 122

With getting on for 1.5 billion citizens, China ranks number one in the world population charts. So it must be something of a disappointment for the Chinese that they can only count nine Nobel Laureates. Still, they compensate for that deficiency with an extraordinarily high average IQ. At 104, it’s the second-highest of the countries in our table. 

13. Finland

Average IQ 101

Education rank: 15

Nobel Laureates: 5

Ranking Score: 122

Finland had a troubled 20th century, to say the least. The country descended into a bitter civil war in 1918 and was invaded by the Soviets in 1939. Thankfully, peace and political stability returned after WWII. With an average IQ score of 101, the Finns are clearly a brainy lot. On top of that, they were named the happiest nation on Earth in the annual World Happiness Report of 2021. Smart and happy — that’s enviable.

12. Austria

Average IQ: 98

Education rank: 16

Nobel Laureates: 22

Ranking Score: 126

Sitting in central Europe, landlocked and mountainous Austria is known for its highly developed culture and its magnificent scenery. Having said that, obviously it went through a hideous period of aberration during WWII. Its 22 Nobel Laureates were drawn from a population of just over 9 million and it boasts a very decent average IQ score of 98.

11. Denmark

Average IQ: 98

Education rank: 12

Nobel Laureates: 13

Ranking Score: 126

This Scandinavian country to the north of Germany and the west of Sweden has a well-earned reputation as a peaceful and prosperous nation. With an average IQ of 98 it seems that these Nordic people are pretty smart as well. That judgment is supported by the fact that the country has produced 13 Nobel Laureates from a population of fewer than 6 million.

10. Australia

Average IQ: 99

Education rank: 8

Nobel Laureates: 12

Ranking Score: 133

Trade body Meat & Livestock Australia estimates that the 2022 total number of sheep in the country stands at 74.4 million. As for human beings, there are about 26 million of them, outnumbered nearly three to one by the woolly critters. Fortunately, Australian people are a whole lot smarter than sheep. The average Australian IQ score of 99 is sure proof of that. Although as far as we know, no sheep has ever had an IQ test!

9. Sweden

Average IQ: 97

Education rank: 9

Nobel Laureates: 32

Ranking Score: 134

Scandinavian Sweden, sandwiched between Norway and Finland, slips into the top ten of our table in a very respectable ninth place. It’s a country with more than its fair share of Nobel Prize winners, 32 of them. And of course Alfred Nobel, founder of the award, was himself a Swede, as well as being the man who invented dynamite.  

8. France

Average IQ: 97

Education rank: 5

Nobel Laureates: 70

Ranking Score: 133

France, with its haute cuisine, great literature, and outstanding art and architecture, has arguably one of the richest cultures in the world. What’s more, it seems that the average French citizen has a keen intelligence to boot. The average IQ score of 97 is one indication of that. But even more striking is the high number of Nobel Laureates: a total of 70. 

7. Netherlands

Average IQ: 101

Education rank: 10

Nobel Laureates: 22

Ranking Score: 141

The Dutch have a reputation as an easygoing and progressive people who are very good at building dikes. But, it turns out, they’re a highly intelligent lot as well, despite their nation’s total absence of geophysical high points to match. Their exceptionally high average IQ of 101 points to a nation with plenty of bright sparks. 

6. Switzerland

Average IQ: 99

Education rank: 6

Nobel Laureates: 27

Ranking Score: 142

Mountainous Switzerland got a bad rap from Orson Welles’ character Harry Lime in the 1949 classic The Third Man. Lime claimed that the only thing Switzerland had produced in 500 years was the cuckoo clock. That’s hardly a fair charge against a nation that takes sixth place in our table of smartness. For one, it ignores the 27 Nobel Prize winners Switzerland has to its name.

5. United States

Average IQ: 97

Education rank: 1

Nobel Laureates: 398

Ranking Score: 148

The U.S. comes in at number five overall in our league table, although its education system comes in at number one. But just look at the number of Nobel Laureates to which America can lay claim: an astonishing 398. That means the country’s citizens have won the most Nobel Prizes of any nation by a very long chalk. 

4. Canada

Average IQ: 100

Education rank: 4

Nobel Laureates: 28

Ranking Score: 148

Canada does rather better than its southern neighbor when it comes to average IQ. Canada gets 100, while the U.S. achieves only 97. But what’s three points between friends? And then again, America seriously outshines Canada when it comes to Nobel Prize winners. The Canadians have only managed to win 28 against the Americans’ stellar 398.

3. United Kingdom

Average IQ: 99

Education rank: 2

Nobel Laureates: 137

Ranking Score: 152

As we’ve said, America has every right to blow its own trumpet with its 398 Nobel Prize recipients. But the U.K. can take some pride in its tally as well. For with a population that’s just about a fifth of America’s it has 137 Nobel Prize winners. So proportionately, Britain has more Laureates than America. Five times 137 is 685. Is that scientific? Probably not! 

2. Japan

Average IQ: 106

Education rank: 7

Nobel Laureates: 29

Ranking Score: 153

Of all the countries in our table, Japan has the highest average IQ. It’s a staggering 106, despite the fact that the country only ranks seventh for its education system. So it’s something of a surprise to see that this Far-Eastern nation has so few Nobel Prize winners to its name. Still, many nations would be more than happy with Japan’s tally of 29.

1. Germany

Average IQ: 101

Education rank: 3

Nobel Laureates: 111

Ranking Score: 156

And so we come to the nation that’s crowned number one in the smartness stakes, at least according to the methodology we’ve used here. Germany has an excellent average IQ of 101 and a substantial total of 111 Nobel Prize winners. Considering the nation was little more than a heap of rubble in 1945, it really hasn’t done too badly in the last eight decades or so.