World Literacy Rates – Does Your Country Make The Grade?


The CIA has posted some interesting data around world literacy rates. They define literacy as: the % of people ages 15 and older with the ability to read and write. Some of the countries that achieved the highest scores include: Finland, Norway, Georgia, Poland, and Cuba (all scored above 99%). Some of the lowest include: Benin, Yemen, and Nepal (These countries languish in the 30-50% range).

Of the countries with the lowest rates, what’s alarming is the disparity amongst men and women. For example in Nepal 62.7% of men are literate while only 34.9% of woman are. In Yemen, 70% of men are literate while only 30% of women are. On the opposite end of the spectrum, In Belarus 99.8% of men are literate and 99.4% of women are.

So what’s the point of all this? Pick up a book and read people! Support your local libraries and education programs. America scored 99%, which puts us even with England, France, Australia, Japan, and Canada. Not bad, but there are still plenty of people in this country that are illiterate (about 2 millions).

If you’re literate, but not a big reader, here are some easy to read books that might just give you the bug:

1. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
2. Angeles & Demons by Dan Brown
3. Naked by David Sedaris
4. Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

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  • Kristen

    Amie – thank you for writing about this important topic. Functional illiteracy( not having reading and writing skills adequate for everyday life situations) is a huge problem in the United States. In Detroit, 47% of the population is functionally illiterate. That means 1 out of every 2 people in Detroit can’t fill out a job application or read a newspaper. It’s hard to even believe, but it’s true. Lots of libraries have literacy programs and that’s just another reason for us to all support our local public libraries.

  • David

    WOW 47% that is unbelievable!!
    I know a big part of me not reading in High School was the selection of books we had to read, they were boring. Introduce more interesting books to kids and they will get the reading bug too.

  • amie

    47%??? That is really bad!