Top 5 Most Literate Countries in the World in 2020


Indian school children (in a queue) having literacy skills lessons

Indian school children (in a queue) having literacy skills lessons. Image credit:

Top 5 Most Literate Countries in the World in 2020 | Top 10 Most Literate Countries in the World in 2020 | How to assess a country’s level of literacy


Top 5 Most Literate Countries in the World in 2020

Top 5 most literate countries in the world in 2020 in the ranking are:

  1. Finland

2. Norway

3. Iceland

4. Denmark

5. Sweden


Top 10 Most Literate Countries in the World in 2020

The other 5 countries that completed the top 10 rankings are:

6. Switzerland

7. United States

8. Germany

9. Latvia and

10. Netherlands

Botswana ranked last, while Colombia, Morocco, Thailand, and Indonesia rounded out the bottom five.


How to know the literacy rate of a country

The literacy rate of a country is the number of people in that country who are at least 15 years old that can read and write.


Literacy rate differs with countries and regions

Many people started school education at a very young age as they learned to read and write especially in developed countries. Not all countries enjoy such prospect and privilege. In some countries, the literacy rate is very high while in others it is very low.

Nordic countries do well in international study assessment whereas countries in the Pacific Rim Region such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and China perform well in international standardized tests.

On the whole, the illiteracy rate is pretty high globally with 781 million illiterate people around the globe.

A recent analytical study in literate behaviour to determine the literacy level of countries of the world which took four decades to accomplish showed that Nordic countries are among the most literate in the world.

These Nordic countries ranked topmost because of their monolithic culture values reading.


How Literacy Rate was assessed in the Study

Factors Considered in Literacy Rate Assessment of Countries

The study examined three key factors related to tested literacy achievement which are scores on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), score on the Program for International Student Assessment  (PISA) and literate behaviour characteristics. Literate behaviour characteristics include access to internet and library resources, newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, years of schooling, etc. These behaviour characteristics were classified into five categories: Libraries, Newspapers, Education System-Inputs, Education System-Outputs, and Computer Availability, and Population.

All these factors determine the performance rate of a country’s education system.

The factors studied present a multifaceted and degree representation of a nation’s cultural strength and the rankings strongly suggest that world literacy demonstrations are that these kinds of literate behaviours are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economies that define our global future.


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