Glance at a world map, and you'll notice gleaming seas, majestic mountain ranges, and lush landscapes. The human factor, however, is entirely left out. Intelligence quotient, or IQ, is the foremost measure of intelligence, and it's used widely in every nation on earth. Since IQ reflects vital factors such as education, resources, and technology, it says a lot about a country and its values, giving you a new view of the globe. Discover the factors behind the world's most intelligent nations, and you'll see that map with fresh eyes.
Japan's high IQ is due in part to its rigorous education system, in which students attend from April through March of the following year. The level of education is intense by international standards, with difficulty levels skyrocketing far above average. School enrollment is also significant, as over 90% of students enroll in high school and 50% in college. With regard to quality and performance, Japanese pupils are the world's top performers in reading, literacy, math, and science. The populace as a whole is well-educated, with a strong societal focus on achievement from a young age.
Taiwan leads Asia in electronics and machinery, and it's heavily invested in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, and smart products. That same drive toward science and electronics carries over to every aspect of everyday life, which features a robust culture of academic excellence, especially in STEM-related fields. Its educational system produces some of the world's highest test scores, particularly in science and mathematics. Students attend 12 years of compulsory education, and the labor force features some of the most highly educated professionals on the planet.
Diverse and multi-faceted, Singapore is known as "Instant Asia" for its melting pot of cultures, attracting immigrants from across the continent. It's one of the world's greenest cities but also one of the world's wisest.
The educational system focuses on defined quantitative objectives, with high grades being pivotal to performance. The system is so formulaic and rigid that nearly everything students learn has an improved answer. Teachers focus primarily, if not completely, on examinable topics. With a system geared so strongly toward exam scores, students routinely aim for and achieve those A's.
Hong Kong is a vibrant city where centuries-old temples meet modern skyscrapers. Known for its rich culture, cuisine, and nightlife, education is another standout. Hong Kong is known for being incredibly competitive, so students start their learning journey early before school even begins. Helicopter parents push their children into studying, attending classes, and achieving, encouraging them to rapidly develop their IQs.
Educational development is constant throughout life. Intense pressure is placed on students to achieve the highest grades possible, which often includes extra courses, after-school activities, tutoring, taking IQ tests, and studying at home for hours on end. As evidenced by its ranking, that pressure clearly pays off.
Education and achievement are so ingrained in this fast-paced, technology-focused society that students start young. Facing intense pressure from parents, teachers, and peers, Chinese children go through rigorous testing. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) compares educational performance worldwide, and students in Shanghai score far above average in reading comprehension, math, and science. In math, students performed 20% better than the international average!
Why the high IQs? Chinese schools center around extreme focus, intense studying, and rote learning for tests and multiple-choice questions. Students don't just learn information; they entrench it into their memories and consistently test on every subject. In Shanghai, secondary schools are ranked as "world-class," and the results speak for themselves.
In South Korea, the militant drive and a passion for excellence are engrained from a young age, so it's no wonder they rank high on IQ tests. Here, education is tied directly to family honor, and those without university degrees are looked down on as second-class citizens. Schools are rigid, intense, hierarchical, and fiercely competitive.
While obtaining a higher education might not be mandatory, it's considered abnormal not to have one, and less than 2% of students aren't enrolled. High entrance rates result in a highly educated workforce, and South Korea has the highest percentage of citizens with a tertiary education degree on earth.
Belarus places priority on its citizens accessing basic knowledge, ensuring that quality education remains equal regardless of a student's socioeconomic class or location. It has one of the highest "Access to Basic Knowledge" ratings on the planet, and its literacy rate is also one of the world's highest. 99.7% of Belarussian adults can read, and 98% have attended primary and secondary schools. Public participation and management of its educational system ensure that as many citizens as possible get the learning they need.
A variety of factors influence Finland's success. First, teachers take a laid-back approach, focusing on students who need the most help instead of the gifted minority. Instead, brighter students help educate average ones. Those who finish early can relax without teachers hovering over them, and there are no school sports, bands, or dances.
Books and lessons are all customized, making teachers a type of education entrepreneur. They create lessons based on their students' needs and abilities, not the other way around. Finland's high-tax government ensures high-quality education for every student, with equal per-pupil funding and complimentary college.
Liechtenstein might be eight times smaller than Los Angeles, but its IQ scores are incomparable. The government controls both private and state schools, ensuring equal educational access and quality for every resident. With only nine public high schools in the entire country, this means a high level of oversight concerning learning. Students regularly achieve some of the highest test scores in Europe, and the country has a literacy rate of 100%.
Performance-fueled perfection defines both of these top-scoring nations, which are direct and aggressive in their learning approach. Papers, for instance, must be completed with zero spelling or grammatical errors, and students are praised for accomplishing that. If there's a mistake, however? Students redo their work until there are none. This approach encourages everyone to live up to and improve on their country's heritage, to reach for perfection, and to take pride in their results. Clearly, it's working.