Countries by Average IQ

The concept of measuring intelligence through IQ (intelligence quotient) tests has long been a subject of fascination and controversy. While IQ scores are just one way to assess cognitive abilities, the data on national averages provides intriguing insights into the global landscape of intelligence.

In this comprehensive analysis, we will delve into the latest research on countries ranked by average IQ, exploring the driving factors, controversies, and changing trends shaping this complex topic.

What Do the IQ Numbers Reveal?

According to the most recent studies, the countries with the highest average IQ scores include:

RankCountryAverage IQ
2Hong Kong107
3South Korea106

On the other end of the spectrum, nations with the lowest average IQ scores include:

  • Equatorial Guinea (59)
  • Liberia (60)
  • Sierra Leone (64)
  • Malawi (65)
  • Haiti (67)

It’s important to note that these rankings have evolved over time, with some countries making significant strides in improving their average scores through better education and economic development.

Factors Impacting National IQ Levels

Factors Impacting National IQ Levels

Multiple interrelated factors contribute to the variations in average IQ scores across countries:

Education Quality and Access: Nations with robust education systems, higher literacy rates, and greater access to quality schooling tend to perform better on IQ tests. Inadequate educational opportunities can hinder cognitive development.

Economic Development and Poverty: Wealthier, more economically developed countries typically have higher IQs, likely due to better nutrition, healthcare, and overall living standards. Poverty can impair cognitive functioning.

Nutrition and Health: Proper nutrition, especially in early childhood, is crucial for brain development. Poor nutrition and health issues like infectious diseases can negatively impact IQ scores.

Genetics and Evolution: Some researchers argue that genetic differences shaped by evolutionary pressures may play a role in group-level IQ variations, though the evidence remains highly controversial and disputed.

Environmental Influences: Factors like pollution, toxins, and lack of cognitive stimulation in one’s environment can potentially affect intelligence levels.

However, it’s essential to approach these factors objectively and avoid cultural biases or oversimplifications in interpreting the data.

The Controversy of Ranking Nations by IQ

The practice of ranking countries by average IQ scores has sparked intense debates among researchers, policymakers, and the general public. Critics argue that:

  • IQ tests may not accurately capture the full scope of intelligence and cognitive abilities across diverse cultures.
  • Using these scores to make broad generalizations about entire nations promotes harmful stereotypes and discrimination.
  • The data can be misinterpreted and misused to justify racist or xenophobic narratives.

On the other hand, proponents of IQ research contend that:

  • IQ scores, while imperfect, provide valuable insights into cognitive abilities and their influencing factors.
  • Understanding group-level differences can inform policies and interventions to improve education and living standards.
  • Ignoring or dismissing these findings outright due to political sensitivities hinders scientific progress.

Ultimately, a balanced perspective recognizes that IQ is one useful datapoint among many, but it should not be treated as the sole or definitive measure of intelligence or human potential.

What IQ Data Doesn’t Tell You (But Often Gets Misinterpreted)

It’s crucial to clarify what IQ scores do not represent and how they are often misunderstood:

  • Individual Capabilities: Population IQs do not determine an individual’s intelligence or potential for achievement. There are countless examples of highly accomplished individuals from countries with lower average IQ scores.
  • Emotional and Practical Intelligence: IQ tests primarily measure specific cognitive abilities like reasoning, problem-solving, and memory. They do not account for other forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence, creativity, or practical skills.
  • Racial or Ethnic Superiority: IQ differences between nations or groups do not justify discriminatory narratives or claims of racial/ethnic superiority. Intelligence is influenced by a complex interplay of environmental, social, and genetic factors.

Oversimplifying or misinterpreting IQ data can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and biases, which is why it’s essential to approach this topic with nuance, objectivity, and an understanding of its limitations.

The Changing Global Landscape of Intelligence

The Changing Global Landscape of Intelligence

While IQ data provides a snapshot of cognitive abilities across nations, the global intelligence landscape is not static. Several significant trends are reshaping our understanding of intelligence distribution:

The “IQ Rise” Phenomenon: Multiple studies have documented a steady rise in IQ scores across generations, known as the “Flynn effect.” This trend suggests that environmental factors like improved nutrition, education, and cognitive stimulation play a significant role in boosting intelligence levels over time.

Developing Nations Making Gains: Some of the most remarkable IQ increases in recent decades have occurred in developing countries that have invested in education, healthcare, and economic development. For instance, nations like Turkey, Iran, and Brazil have seen substantial IQ gains as their living standards improve.

The Impact of Technology and AI: As technology and artificial intelligence (AI) continue to advance, the way we measure and conceptualize intelligence itself may evolve. Traditional IQ tests may become less relevant in an increasingly automated world, where human abilities like creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability become more valued.

Looking ahead, the global IQ rankings may look significantly different in the coming decades as developing nations continue to progress, and our understanding of intelligence expands beyond narrow cognitive measures.


The exploration of countries by average IQ scores unveils a complex tapestry of cognitive abilities, shaped by a multitude of environmental, social, and genetic factors. While IQ data provides valuable insights, it is essential to approach this topic with nuance, objectivity, and an understanding of its limitations.

IQ scores represent averages, not definitive measures of an individual’s potential or worth. Intelligence manifests in many forms beyond cognitive abilities, and oversimplifying or misinterpreting this data can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and biases.

As the world continues to evolve, with developing nations making strides in education and economic development, and our understanding of intelligence expanding with technological advancements, the global IQ landscape will likely shift in fascinating ways. Ultimately, this knowledge should inspire efforts to create more equitable opportunities for cognitive development and unleash the full potential of human intelligence in all its diverse forms.


Which country has highest average IQ?

According to the latest studies, the country with the highest average IQ is Singapore, with an average IQ score of 108.

What is Elon Musk’s IQ?

While Elon Musk’s exact IQ score is not publicly known, it is estimated to be around 155, which is considered to be in the genius range. However, IQ tests do not necessarily capture all aspects of intelligence and innovation.

Is 120 a good IQ?

Yes, an IQ score of 120 is considered to be quite good. It falls within the “superior intelligence” range, which typically spans from 115 to 129. An IQ of 120 indicates above-average cognitive abilities compared to the general population.

Is 130 IQ a genius?

An IQ score of 130 is generally considered to be within the “gifted” or “highly gifted” range. While it is not quite at the level of “genius,” which is typically defined as an IQ of 140 or above, an IQ of 130 is still exceptionally high and indicative of superior intellectual abilities.

Is 140 IQ good for a 14 year old?

Yes, an IQ of 140 for a 14-year-old is considered to be excellent and within the “genius” range. An IQ score of 140 or above at any age is regarded as highly gifted and places an individual among the top 0.5% of the population in terms of cognitive abilities.

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