A Snapshot of World Literacy Today

intro-intl-lit-day-2014If it was up to you to solve global illiteracy, how would you know you were making progress? Today is International Literacy Day, a great time to take a look at UNESCO’s “snapshot” of literacy around the world.

Image source: UN Photo/Louise Gubb

Lets head on over to the eAtlas of Literacy, a veritable Mission Control center where the UNESCO Institute for Statistics “collects data for more than 200 countries and territories through its annual surveys and partnerships with [other] organizations” and serves it up one comprehensive, flexible visualization.


The interactive map-plus-timeline lets you view the state of literacy today by breaking it down by country, gender, age group, and so on. To prevent information overload, they’ve paired these with a simplified write-up of the findings as well in the “Facts” tab.

While the total worldwide number of illiterate adults is a daunting 781 million people, scrubbing through the timeline shows improving literacy rates for various countries and regions as time goes on. Watching these areas become lighter shades of blue over the years is an encouraging and potent image, especially when you take into account the fact that your book purchases contributed to this trend (at least, during the final 10 years of the timeline).


So keep an eye on the eAtlas and one day—with the help of people like you who support literacy programs such as LEAP and Book for Book with your purchases—the entire map can become one beautiful, worldwide shade of sky blue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *