The Most (and Least) Literate Countries in the World

Across the world, the average literacy rate is 86.81%. This is defined by the percentage of residents aged 15 or older that are able to read and write. This number varies greatly across countries, as some have a much higher or much lower literacy rate. How do countries around the world rank?

The team at U.S. Career Institute looked at data from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the World Bank, the United Nations, and Our World in Data to create a visualization that depicts which countries around the world have the highest and lowest literacy rates.

There are many countries that, according to the data, have a 100% literacy rate. These countries include:

  • Andorra
  • Finland
  • Greenland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Norway
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • North Korea

There are many other countries that have a literacy rate higher than 99%. These countries include Latvia at 99.89%, Belarus and Estonia at 99.87%, as well as Lithuania and Czechia at 99.83%.

There are also many countries that have a literacy rate well below the world average, some of which are below 50%. The countries with the lowest literacy rates around the world are the following:

  • Chad (26.76% literacy rate)
  • Mali (30.76% literacy rate)
  • South Sudan (34.52% literacy rate)
  • Botswana (36.75% literacy rate)
  • Afghanistan (37.27% literacy rate)

There are many different things that impact literacy rates in different countries. Poverty and limited access to education are two big factors that can impact how many people can read or write in a country. There are also many households that need younger children to work instead of go to school in order to contribute to the household income. Instead of going to school, they work to bring money home for their families.

Are there any countries on the list of highest and lowest literacy rates that are surprising to you?

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