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Finland is the Worlds Most Literate Country

Which of the world’s countries is the most literate? A new study used multiple “literate behavior characteristics” to come up with an overall score for each nation. Finland bested the United States and United Kingdom easily, finishing first overall.

The study was conducted John Miller, the president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. It’s not limited strictly to individuals’ literacy rates – instead, Miller looked at things like number of libraries, number of households with computers, and literacy test scores.

The top ten most literate countries are: 

  1. Finland
  2. Norway
  3. Iceland
  4. Denmark
  5. Sweden
  6. Switzerland
  7. United States of America
  8. Germany 
  9. Latvia 
  10. Netherlands

Finland leads the pack, but Scandinavian countries in general did very well, as did countries from continental Europe.

The United States finished seventh, well behind the leaders. Miller explained the United States’ performance by saying that while compulsory education has improved, the United States is no longer dominating some of the peripheral “literate behavior characteristics.” “It is not so much that we are slowing down in this world race,” explained Miller, “but rather that others are speeding up.” The United States did not crack the top five in any of the categories, which included educational investment, test scores, libraries, newspapers, and households with computers.

The United Kingdom finished 17th, well off of the top 10. Canada, at number 11, just barely missed the cut.