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Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland among world’s smartest countries

Prague, Czech Republic – According to a recent ranking, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic all rank among the smartest countries in the world.

How to measure intelligence?

Measuring someone’s intelligence is a tricky thing, and it gets even trickier if you try to calculate how smart whole countries and populations are. But as Einstein said, “the difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits”. And as long as something has limits, then it should theoretically be possible to measure it.

The debate on the best ways to measure intelligence has been raging since, well, the early days of philosophy, modern-day psychology and has boomed with the development of social sciences. Many types of methodologies have been used by research paper writers from all over the world for countless studies on the topic, with varying and sometimes contradictory results.

A new ranking of the world’s smartest countries has been released, and it contains most interesting results for Central European nations. According to the Cleverest Countries index, designed and compiled by Vouchercloud, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic all rank among the world’s most intelligent countries.

Central European countries among world’s smartest

The study takes into account three variables to measure past, present and future intelligence: the total number of Noel Prize wins (past), IQ test results (present) and educational achievements (future).

First, let us give credit where credit is due: Japan, scoring consistently high across all three metrics, comes out in 1st place worldwide and is named the world’s smartest country. The rest of the top 5 is made up of Switzerland, China, the United States and the Netherlands.

Hungary ranks as the 16th smartest country worldwide, achieving its highest score in the school test ranking (14th). Poland stands at the 21st place (but 15th, tied with Australia and Israel, when it comes to the number of Nobel prize wins) and the Czech Republic ranks 23rd, placing highest in the national IQ category (19th worldwide).

Smartest countries: Western nations vs. the rest of the world

A closer look at the specific variables shows strong differences between the West and the rest of the world. The Nobel Prize category is dominated by Western countries: the U.S. comes out on top and boasts the highest number of Nobel Prize wins (368), followed by the U.K. (132), Germany (107), France (62) and Sweden (30).

Observers have long criticized the Nobel Prize for being disproportionately dominated by Western countries and the mere reflection of the West’s geopolitical and cultural supremacy over the past century. To put things in perspective, only eight laureates were chosen from outside Europe or the United States between 1901 and 1985.

Asian countries dominate national IQ ranking

But the West’s domination quickly fades away in the IQ and school results categories. Singapore ranks 1st in both categories: the small South-East Asian city-state boasts a national average IQ of 107.1  (followed by China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan). The first non-Asian country is Finland, at the 7th place.

Singapore also ranks first in the world in school test results (followed by South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan). Here too, the first non-Asian countries – outside of Russia, 6th – lag far behind, with Liechtenstein and Switzerland ranking respectively 10th and 11th in the world. Although European countries dominated this particular ranking until the 1970’s, East-Asian countries began to take over the upper rankings in the 1980’s, up until today.

According to this index, the top 25 smartest countries in the world include 15 countries in Europe, 7 in Asia, 2 in North America and 1 in the Middle East.

Top 25 smartest countries in the world
Ranking of the smartest countries in the world. Source: Vouchercloud

Not only are they among the world’s most intelligent countries, but Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic also top the charts in a number of other surprising areas:

5 things Czechs do better than anyone else

5 things Poles do better than anyone else

5 things Hungarians do better than anyone else

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.