FIELD LISTING :: LITERACY
This entry includes a definition of literacy and Census Bureau percentages for the total population, males, and females. There are no universal definitions and standards of literacy. Unless otherwise specified, all rates are based on the most common definition - the ability to read and write at a specified age. Detailing the standards that individual countries use to assess the ability to read and write is beyond the scope of the Factbook. Information on literacy, while not a perfect measure of educational results, is probably the most easily available and valid for international comparisons. Low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world.


Country Comparison to the World

CountryLITERACY(%)
Afghanistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.2%
male: 52%
female: 24.2% (2015 est.)
Albania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.6%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.9% (2015 est.)
Algeria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 80.2%
male: 87.2%
female: 73.1% (2015 est.)
Angola definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.1%
male: 82%
female: 60.7% (2015 est.)
Antigua and Barbuda definition: age 15 and over has completed five or more years of schooling
total population: 99%
male: 98.4%
female: 99.4% (2012 est.)
Argentina definition: age 10 and over can read and write
total population: 98.1%
male: 98%
female: 98.1% (2015 est.)
Armenia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.6% (2015 est.)
Aruba definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.5%
male: 97.5%
female: 97.5% (2015 est.)
Azerbaijan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Bahrain definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 96.9%
female: 93.5% (2015 est.)
Bangladesh definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 61.5%
male: 64.6%
female: 58.5% (2015 est.)
Belarus definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
Benin definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.4%
male: 49.9%
female: 27.3% (2015 est.)
Bhutan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.9%
male: 73.1%
female: 55% (2015 est.)
Bolivia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 97.8%
female: 93.6% (2015 est.)
Bosnia and Herzegovina definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.5%
male: 99.5%
female: 97.5% (2015 est.)
Botswana definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.5%
male: 88%
female: 88.9% (2015 est.)
Brazil definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 92.2%
female: 92.9% (2015 est.)
Brunei definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 97.5%
female: 94.5% (2015 est.)
Bulgaria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.7%
female: 98.1% (2015 est.)
Burkina Faso definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 36%
male: 43%
female: 29.3% (2015 est.)
Burma definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.1%
male: 95.2%
female: 91.2% (2015 est.)
Burundi definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.6%
male: 88.2%
female: 83.1% (2015 est.)
Cabo Verde definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.6%
male: 92.1%
female: 83.1% (2015 est.)
Cambodia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77.2%
male: 84.5%
female: 70.5% (2015 est.)
Cameroon definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 75%
male: 81.2%
female: 68.9% (2015 est.)
Cayman Islands definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 98.9%
male: 98.7%
female: 99% (2007 est.)
Central African Republic definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 36.8%
male: 50.7%
female: 24.4% (2015 est.)
Chad definition: age 15 and over can read and write French or Arabic
total population: 40.2%
male: 48.5%
female: 31.9% (2015 est.)
Chile definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.5%
male: 97.6%
female: 97.4% (2015 est.)
China definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.4%
male: 98.2%
female: 94.5% (2015 est.)
Colombia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.7%
male: 94.6%
female: 94.8% (2015 est.)
Comoros definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77.8%
male: 81.8%
female: 73.7% (2015 est.)
Congo, Democratic Republic of the definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 63.8%
male: 78.1%
female: 50% (2015 est.)
Congo, Republic of the definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.3%
male: 86.4%
female: 72.9% (2015 est.)
Costa Rica definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: 97.7%
female: 97.8% (2015 est.)
Cote d'Ivoire definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 43.1%
male: 53.1%
female: 32.5% (2015 est.)
Croatia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.3%
male: 99.7%
female: 98.9% (2015 est.)
Cuba definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Cyprus definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.1%
male: 99.5%
female: 98.7% (2015 est.)
Czech Republic definition: NA
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2011 est.)
Dominican Republic definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.8%
male: 91.2%
female: 92.3% (2015 est.)
Ecuador definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 95.4%
female: 93.5% (2015 est.)
Egypt definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.8%
male: 82.2%
female: 65.4% (2015 est.)
El Salvador definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88%
male: 90.4%
female: 86% (2015 est.)
Equatorial Guinea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.3%
male: 97.4%
female: 93% (2015 est.)
Eritrea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.8%
male: 82.4%
female: 65.5% (2015 est.)
Estonia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Ethiopia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 49.1%
male: 57.2%
female: 41.1% (2015 est.)
Gabon definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.2%
male: 85.3%
female: 81% (2015 est.)
Gambia, The definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 55.5%
male: 63.9%
female: 47.6% (2015 est.)
Gaza Strip definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.5%
male: 98.4%
female: 94.5%
note: estimates are for the Palestinian Territories (2015 est.)
Georgia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
Ghana definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.6%
male: 82%
female: 71.4% (2015 est.)
Greece definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.7%
male: 98.5%
female: 96.9% (2015 est.)
Guatemala definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.5%
male: 87.4%
female: 76.3% (2015 est.)
Guinea-Bissau definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 59.9%
male: 71.8%
female: 48.3% (2015 est.)
Guinea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 30.4%
male: 38.1%
female: 22.8% (2015 est.)
Guyana definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 88.5%
male: 87.2%
female: 89.8% (2015 est.)
Haiti definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 60.7%
male: 64.3%
female: 57.3% (2015 est.)
Honduras definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.5%
male: 88.4%
female: 88.6% (2015 est.)
Hungary definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.1%
male: 99.1%
female: 99% (2015 est.)
India definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.2%
male: 81.3%
female: 60.6% (2015 est.)
Indonesia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.9%
male: 96.3%
female: 91.5% (2015 est.)
Iran definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.8%
male: 91.2%
female: 82.5% (2015 est.)
Iraq definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.7%
male: 85.7%
female: 73.7% (2015 est.)
Israel definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: 98.7%
female: 96.8% (2011 est.)
Italy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.2%
male: 99.4%
female: 99% (2015 est.)
Jamaica definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 88.7%
male: 84%
female: 93.1% (2015 est.)
Jordan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 97.7%
female: 92.9% (2015 est.)
Kazakhstan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Kenya definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78%
male: 81.1%
female: 74.9% (2015 est.)
Korea, North definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2015 est.)
Kosovo definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 96.6%
female: 87.5% (2003 est.)
Kuwait definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.5%
female: 95.8% (2015 est.)
Kyrgyzstan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.6%
female: 99.4% (2015 est.)
Laos definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.9%
male: 87.1%
female: 72.8% (2015 est.)
Latvia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.9%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.9% (2015 est.)
Lebanon definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.9%
male: 96%
female: 91.8% (2015 est.)
Lesotho definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.4%
male: 70.1%
female: 88.3% (2015 est.)
Liberia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 47.6%
male: 62.4%
female: 32.8% (2015 est.)
Libya definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91%
male: 96.7%
female: 85.6% (2015 est.)
Lithuania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Macau definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.2%
male: 98%
female: 94.6% (2015 est.)
Macedonia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.8%
male: 98.8%
female: 96.8% (2015 est.)
Madagascar definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.7%
male: 66.7%
female: 62.6% (2015 est.)
Malawi definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 65.8%
male: 73%
female: 58.6% (2015 est.)
Malaysia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.6%
male: 96.2%
female: 93.2% (2015 est.)
Maldives definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.3%
male: 99.8%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)
Mali definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.7%
male: 48.2%
female: 29.2% (2015 est.)
Malta definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.4%
male: 93.1%
female: 95.8% (2015 est.)
Mauritania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.1%
male: 62.6%
female: 41.6% (2015 est.)
Mauritius definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.6%
male: 92.9%
female: 88.5% (2015 est.)
Mexico definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.1%
male: 96.2%
female: 94.2% (2012 est.)
Moldova definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.1% (2015 est.)
Mongolia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.2%
female: 98.6% (2015 est.)
Montenegro definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.7%
male: 99.5%
female: 98% (2015 est.)
Morocco definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 68.5%
male: 78.6%
female: 58.8% (2015 est.)
Mozambique definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58.8%
male: 73.3%
female: 45.4% (2015 est.)
Namibia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.9%
male: 79.2%
female: 84.5% (2015 est.)
Nepal definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.9%
male: 76.4%
female: 53.1% (2015 est.)
New Caledonia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.9%
male: 97.3%
female: 96.5% (2015 est.)
Nicaragua definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.8%
male: 82.4%
female: 83.2% (2015 est.)
Nigeria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 59.6%
male: 69.2%
female: 49.7% (2015 est.)
Niger definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 19.1%
male: 27.3%
female: 11% (2015 est.)
Oman definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.1%
male: 93.6%
female: 85.6% (2015 est.)
Pakistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.9%
male: 69.5%
female: 45.8% (2015 est.)
Palau definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.5%
female: 99.6% (2015 est.)
Panama definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95%
male: 95.7%
female: 94.4% (2015 est.)
Papua New Guinea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.2%
male: 65.6%
female: 62.8% (2015 est.)
Paraguay definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.9%
male: 94.8%
female: 92.9% (2010 est.)
Peru definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 97.3%
female: 91.7% (2015 est.)
Philippines definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 95.8%
female: 96.8% (2015 est.)
Poland definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
Portugal definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 97.1%
female: 94.4% (2015 est.)
Puerto Rico definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 92.8%
female: 93.8% (2015 est.)
Qatar definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.3%
male: 97.4%
female: 96.8% (2015 est.)
Romania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.5% (2015 est.)
Russia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.6% (2015 est.)
Rwanda definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.5%
male: 73.2%
female: 68% (2015 est.)
Samoa definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)
Sao Tome and Principe definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.9%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)
Saudi Arabia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.7%
male: 97%
female: 91.1% (2015 est.)
Senegal definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.7%
male: 69.7%
female: 46.6% (2015 est.)
Serbia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.1%
male: 99.1%
female: 97.2% (2015 est.)
Seychelles definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.8%
male: 91.4%
female: 92.3% (2012 est.)
Sierra Leone definition: age 15 and over can read and write English, Mende, Temne, or Arabic
total population: 48.1%
male: 58.7%
female: 37.7% (2015 est.)
Singapore definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.8%
male: 98.6%
female: 95% (2015 est.)
Slovenia definition: NA
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
Solomon Islands definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.1%
male: 88.9%
female: 79.2% (2009 est.)
South Africa definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.3%
male: 95.5%
female: 93.1% (2015 est.)
South Sudan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 27%
male: 40%
female: 16% (2009 est.)
Spain definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.1%
male: 98.7%
female: 97.5% (2015 est.)
Sri Lanka definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 93.6%
female: 91.7% (2015 est.)
Sudan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 75.9%
male: 83.3%
female: 68.6% (2015 est.)
Suriname definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.6%
male: 96.1%
female: 95% (2015 est.)
Swaziland definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.5%
male: 87.4%
female: 87.5% (2015 est.)
Syria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.4%
male: 91.7%
female: 81% (2015 est.)
Taiwan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.5%
male: 99.7%
female: 97.3% (2014 est.)
Tajikistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
Tanzania definition: age 15 and over can read and write Kiswahili (Swahili), English, or Arabic
total population: 70.6%
male: 75.9%
female: 65.4% (2015 est.)
Thailand definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.7%
male: 96.6%
female: 96.7% (2015 est.)
Timor-Leste definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.5%
male: 71.5%
female: 63.4% (2015 est.)
Togo definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.5%
male: 78.3%
female: 55.3% (2015 est.)
Tonga definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.3%
female: 99.4% (2015 est.)
Trinidad and Tobago definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99.2%
female: 98.7% (2015 est.)
Tunisia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 81.8%
male: 89.6%
female: 74.2% (2015 est.)
Turkey definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95%
male: 98.4%
female: 91.8% (2015 est.)
Turkmenistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.6% (2015 est.)
Uganda definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.4%
male: 85.3%
female: 71.5% (2015 est.)
Ukraine definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
United Arab Emirates definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
male: 93.1%
female: 95.8% (2005 est.)
Uruguay definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.5%
male: 98.2%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)
Uzbekistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.5% (2015 est.)
Vanuatu definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.2%
male: 86.6%
female: 83.8% (2015 est.)
Venezuela definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.4%
female: 96.2% (2015 est.)
Vietnam definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 96.3%
female: 92.8% (2015 est.)
West Bank definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.5%
male: 98.4%
female: 94.5%
notes: estimates are for the Palestinian Territories (2015 est.)
World definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.1%
male: 89.9%
female: 82.2% (2015 est.)
note: more than three-quarters of the world's 781 million illiterate adults are found in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; of all the illiterate adults in the world, almost two-thirds are women (2012)
Yemen definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.1%
male: 85.1%
female: 55% (2015 est.)
Zambia definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 63.4%
male: 70.9%
female: 56% (2015 est.)
Zimbabwe definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 86.5%
male: 88.5%
female: 84.6% (2015 est.)