When you think of Saint Lucia, you probably imagine coral reefs, sun-soaked beaches and luxury hotels. But Saint Lucia is much more than just a holiday destination. In fact, the little Caribbean nation can boast of having the most Nobel Prize winners per capita of any sovereign country. Although it has a population of just 180,000 residents, two Saint Lucians have won Nobel Prizes: economist W. Arthur Lewis in 1979 and poet Derek Walcott in 1992. However, in terms of the country with the most Nobel winners in tota, it's no contest: The United States (pop. 327 million) has won 377 of the prizes, as of 2018. The United Kingdom (pop. 66 million) holds second place with 131 laureates.
Surprises about the prizes:
- Although they are part of the Kingdom of Denmark and not a sovereign state, the Faroe Islands can boast even more Nobel laureates per capita. With a population of only 49,000 people, the archipelago has produced one laureate: Niels Ryberg Finsen, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1903.
- The oldest person to win a Nobel Prize was Arthur Ashkin, who was 96 years old when he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018. The younger winner was Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at the age of 17.
- On average, it takes about 20 to 30 years for a Nobel-worthy scientific discovery to be recognized with a Nobel Prize.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which country has the highest number of Nobel Prizes won per capita?
As of the latest data, Saint Lucia has the highest number of Nobel Prizes won per capita. Despite its small population, this Caribbean nation boasts two Nobel laureates: Sir Arthur Lewis for Economics in 1979 and Derek Walcott for Literature in 1992. Given Saint Lucia's population of around 180,000, this translates to an impressive ratio of Nobel laureates per capita.
How does the United States rank in terms of Nobel Prizes won per capita?
The United States, while having a significant total number of Nobel laureates, does not rank as highly on a per capita basis due to its large population. The U.S. has over 390 Nobel Prize winners, which is the highest absolute number globally, but when adjusted for its population size, the per capita figure is much lower compared to smaller countries with fewer laureates.
What factors contribute to a country's Nobel Prize wins per capita?
Several factors can contribute to a country's Nobel Prize wins per capita, including the quality and investment in education and research, cultural emphasis on scientific and literary achievements, and the presence of institutions that support and foster talent. Additionally, smaller nations can sometimes have a higher per capita rate due to the statistical effect of their low populations combined with even a few laureates.
Are there any countries that have significantly improved their Nobel Prize wins per capita?
While specific data on improvements over time can be challenging to quantify, countries that have invested heavily in research and development, education, and have established conducive environments for innovation are likely to see improvements in their Nobel Prize wins per capita. Israel, for example, has seen a notable number of laureates in recent decades, reflecting its strong emphasis on education and technology.
Can Nobel Prize wins per capita be considered an indicator of a country's intellectual prowess?
Nobel Prize wins per capita can be one of many indicators of a country's intellectual prowess, as they reflect exceptional contributions to various fields. However, it is important to consider a broader range of factors, including other academic achievements, patents, and scientific publications, to gain a comprehensive understanding of a nation's intellectual capabilities and achievements.