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: 31.7%
male: 45.4%
female: 17.6% (2011 est.)
Albania definition: age 9 and over can read and write
total population: 96.8%
male: 98%
female: 95.7% (2011 est.)
Algeria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 72.6%
male: 81.3%
female: 63.9% (2006 est.)
Angola definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.6%
male: 82.5%
female: 59.1% (2012 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: 97.9%
male: 97.9%
female: 98% (2012 est.)
Armenia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.5% (2012 est.)
Aruba definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.8%
male: 96.9%
female: 96.7% (2010 est.)
Azerbaijan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.7% (2012 est.)
Bahrain definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.6%
male: 96.1%
female: 91.6% (2010 est.)
Bangladesh definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58.8%
male: 62.5%
female: 55.1% (2012 est.)
Belarus definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.5% (2009 est.)
Benin definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 28.7%
male: 40.6%
female: 18.4% (2006 est.)
Bhutan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.8%
male: 65%
female: 38.7% (2005 est.)
Bolivia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 97.1%
female: 91.9% (2012 est.)
Bosnia and Herzegovina definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.2%
male: 99.5%
female: 96.9% (2012 est.)
Botswana definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.7%
male: 86.3%
female: 87.1% (2012 est.)
Brazil definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.3%
male: 91%
female: 91.6% (2012 est.)
Brunei definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 97.1%
female: 93.7% (2012 est.)
Bulgaria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.7%
female: 98% (2011 est.)
Burkina Faso definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 28.7%
male: 36.7%
female: 21.6% (2007 est.)
Burma definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.6%
male: 95%
female: 90.5% (2012 est.)
Burundi definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.9%
male: 88.8%
female: 84.6% (2008 est.)
Cabo Verde definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.3%
male: 90.5%
female: 80.5% (2012 est.)
Cambodia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.9%
male: 82.8%
female: 65.9% (2009 est.)
Cameroon definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.3%
male: 78.3%
female: 64.8% (2010 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% (2010 est.)
Chad definition: age 15 and over can read and write French or Arabic
total population: 37.3%
male: 46.9%
female: 27.8% (2012 est.)
Chile definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.6%
male: 98.6%
female: 98.5% (2009 est.)
China definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.1%
male: 97.5%
female: 92.7% (2010 est.)
Colombia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.6%
male: 93.5%
female: 93.7% (2011 est.)
Comoros definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 75.9%
male: 80.7%
female: 71.2% (2012 est.)
Congo, Democratic Republic of the definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 61.2%
male: 76.9%
female: 46.1% (2007 est.)
Congo, Republic of the definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.3%
male: 86.4%
female: 72.9% (2011 est.)
Costa Rica definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.4%
male: 97.3%
female: 97.5% (2011 est.)
Cote d'Ivoire definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 41%
male: 51.6%
female: 30.5% (2012 est.)
Croatia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.1%
male: 99.6%
female: 98.7% (2011 est.)
Cuba definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2012 est.)
Cyprus definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.7%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.1% (2011 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: 90.9%
male: 90.5%
female: 91.3% (2013 est.)
Ecuador definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 94.4%
female: 92.2% (2013 est.)
Egypt definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.9%
male: 81.7%
female: 65.8% (2012 est.)
El Salvador definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.5%
male: 88.4%
female: 83% (2011 est.)
Equatorial Guinea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 97.2%
female: 91.6% (2012 est.)
Eritrea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.5%
male: 80.1%
female: 61.3% (2012 est.)
Estonia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.9% (2011 est.)
Ethiopia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 39%
male: 49.1%
female: 28.9% (2007 est.)
Gabon definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.3%
male: 84.9%
female: 79.9% (2012 est.)
Gambia, The definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52%
male: 61.4%
female: 43.1% (2012 est.)
Gaza Strip definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.9%
male: 98.2%
female: 93.6%
note: estimates are for the Palestinian Territories (2012 est.)
Georgia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2012 est.)
Ghana definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.5%
male: 78.3%
female: 65.3% (2010 est.)
Greece definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.4%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.4% (2012 est.)
Guatemala definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78.3%
male: 84.8%
female: 72.4% (2012 est.)
Guinea-Bissau definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 56.7%
male: 69.8%
female: 43.9% (2012 est.)
Guinea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 25.3%
male: 36.8%
female: 12.2% (2010 est.)
Guyana definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 85%
male: 82.4%
female: 87.3% (2009 est.)
Haiti definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 48.7%
male: 53.4%
female: 44.6% (2006 est.)
Honduras definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.4%
male: 85.7%
female: 85.1% (2012 est.)
Hungary definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.4%
female: 99.4% (2012 est.)
India definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74%
male: 82.1%
female: 65.5% (2011 est.)
Indonesia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.8%
male: 95.6%
female: 90.1% (2011 est.)
Iran definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.3%
male: 89.4%
female: 79.2% (2012 est.)
Iraq definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79%
male: 85.8%
female: 72.2% (2012 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%
male: 99.3%
female: 98.8% (2012 est.)
Jamaica definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 87.5%
male: 82.6%
female: 92.1% (2012 est.)
Jordan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 98.4%
female: 97.4% (2012 est.)
Kazakhstan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2009 est.)
Kenya definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 72.2%
male: 78.1%
female: 66.9% (2007 est.)
Korea, North definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2008 est.)
Kosovo definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.9%
male: 96.6%
female: 87.5% (2007 est.)
Kuwait definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.5%
male: 95.8%
female: 95% (2012 est.)
Kyrgyzstan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.2%
male: 99.5%
female: 99% (2009 est.)
Laos definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 72.7%
male: 82.5%
female: 63.2% (2005 est.)
Latvia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.9%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.9% (2011 est.)
Lebanon definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.6%
male: 93.4%
female: 86% (2007 est.)
Lesotho definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 75.8%
male: 65.5%
female: 85% (2009 est.)
Liberia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.9%
male: 60.8%
female: 27% (2007 est.)
Libya definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.9%
male: 96.1%
female: 83.7% (2012 est.)
Lithuania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2011 est.)
Macau definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.6%
male: 97.8%
female: 93.7% (2011 est.)
Macedonia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.5%
male: 98.7%
female: 96.3% (2012 est.)
Madagascar definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.5%
male: 67.4%
female: 61.6% (2009 est.)
Malawi definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 61.3%
male: 72.1%
female: 51.3% (2010 est.)
Malaysia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.1%
male: 95.4%
female: 90.7% (2010 est.)
Maldives definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.4%
female: 98.4% (2006 est.)
Mali definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 33.6%
male: 43.3%
female: 24.6% (2011 est.)
Malta definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.4%
male: 91.2%
female: 93.5% (2005 est.)
Mauritania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 45.5%
male: 57.4%
female: 35.3% (2007 est.)
Mauritius definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89.2%
male: 92%
female: 86.7% (2011 est.)
Mexico definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.2%
male: 95.4%
female: 93.2% (2012 est.)
Moldova definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.1%
male: 99.6%
female: 98.6% (2012 est.)
Mongolia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.3%
male: 98.2%
female: 98.3% (2010 est.)
Montenegro definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 99.4%
female: 97.5% (2011 est.)
Morocco definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 67.1%
male: 76.1%
female: 57.6% (2011 est.)
Mozambique definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 50.6%
male: 67.4%
female: 36.5% (2009 est.)
Namibia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.5%
male: 74.3%
female: 78.4% (2007 est.)
Nepal definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.4%
male: 71.1%
female: 46.7% (2011 est.)
New Caledonia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.5%
male: 97%
female: 96.1% (2012 est.)
Nicaragua definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 78%
male: 78.1%
female: 77.9% (2005 est.)
Nigeria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 51.1%
male: 61.3%
female: 41.4% (2008 est.)
Niger definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 15.5%
male: 23.2%
female: 8.9% (2012 est.)
Oman definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 86.9%
male: 90.2%
female: 81.8% (2010 est.)
Pakistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 54.7%
male: 67%
female: 42% (2011 est.)
Palau definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.5%
female: 99.6% (2013 est.)
Panama definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 94.7%
female: 93.5% (2010 est.)
Papua New Guinea definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 62.9%
male: 65.5%
female: 60.3% (2012 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: 93.8%
male: 97%
female: 90.7% (2012 est.)
Philippines definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 95%
female: 95.8% (2008 est.)
Poland definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.6% (2012 est.)
Portugal definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.5%
male: 96.3%
female: 92.9% (2011 est.)
Puerto Rico definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92%
male: 91.3%
female: 92.5% (2010 est.)
Qatar definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.7%
male: 96.9%
female: 95.8% (2012 est.)
Romania definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.6%
male: 99%
female: 98.2% (2011 est.)
Russia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.6% (2010 est.)
Rwanda definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 65.9%
male: 71.1%
female: 61.5% (2010 est.)
Samoa definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.9%
male: 99.1%
female: 98.7% (2012 est.)
Sao Tome and Principe definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 69.5%
male: 80.3%
female: 60.1% (2008 est.)
Saudi Arabia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.4%
male: 96.5%
female: 91.4% (2013 est.)
Senegal definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.1%
male: 66.3%
female: 40.4% (2011 est.)
Serbia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.2%
male: 99.2%
female: 97.1% (2012 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: 44.5%
male: 55.5%
female: 33.7% (2012 est.)
Singapore definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.4%
male: 98.5%
female: 94.4% (2012 est.)
Slovenia definition: NA
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.7% (2012 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: 93.7%
male: 95%
female: 92.6% (2012 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: 97.9%
male: 98.6%
female: 97.2% (2012 est.)
Sri Lanka definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.2%
male: 92.6%
female: 90% (2010 est.)
Sudan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.4%
male: 81.7%
female: 65.3% (2012 est.)
Suriname definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.7%
male: 95.4%
female: 94% (2010 est.)
Swaziland definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.1%
male: 83.9%
female: 82.4% (2010 est.)
Syria definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.1%
male: 90.8%
female: 79.2% (2012 est.)
Taiwan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.3%
male: 99.6%
female: 97% (2012 est.)
Tajikistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2012 est.)
Tanzania definition: age 15 and over can read and write Kiswahili (Swahili), English, or Arabic
total population: 67.8%
male: 75.5%
female: 60.8% (2010 est.)
Thailand definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.4%
male: 96.4%
female: 96.4% (2010 est.)
Timor-Leste definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58.3%
male: 63.6%
female: 53% (2010 est.)
Togo definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 60.4%
male: 74.1%
female: 48% (2011 est.)
Tonga definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.3%
female: 99.4% (2011 est.)
Trinidad and Tobago definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.8%
male: 99.2%
female: 98.5% (2012 est.)
Tunisia definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.7%
male: 87.8%
female: 71.7% (2011 est.)
Turkey definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.9%
male: 98.3%
female: 91.6% (2012 est.)
Turkmenistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.6%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.5% (2012 est.)
Uganda definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 73.2%
male: 82.6%
female: 64.6% (2010 est.)
Ukraine definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2012 est.)
United Arab Emirates definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90%
male: 89.5%
female: 91.5% (2005 est.)
Uruguay definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.4%
male: 98.1%
female: 98.7% (2012 est.)
Uzbekistan definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.5%
male: 99.7%
female: 99.3% (2012 est.)
Vanuatu definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.4%
male: 84.9%
female: 81.9% (2012 est.)
Venezuela definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.5%
male: 95.7%
female: 95.4% (2009 est.)
Vietnam definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.5%
male: 95.8%
female: 91.4% (2009 est.)
West Bank definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.9%
male: 98.2%
female: 93.6%
notes: estimates are for the Palestinian Territories (2012 est.)
World definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.3%
male: 88.6%
female: 80.2% (2012 est.)
note: more than two thirds of the world's 774 million illiterate adults are found in only ten countries (in descending order: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo); of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (2011)
Yemen definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.4%
male: 82.6%
female: 50.2% (2012 est.)
Zambia definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 61.4%
male: 71.9%
female: 51.8% (2007 est.)
Zimbabwe definition: age 15 and over can read and write English
total population: 83.6%
male: 87.8%
female: 80.1% (2011 est.)