Background Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr. Lance Ware, a scientist and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people, the only qualification for membership of which was a high IQ. The original aims were, as they are today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose IQ is in the top 2% of the population, with the objective of enjoying each other's company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities.

Mensa has three stated purposes: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.

Uniqueness The word Mensa is Latin for table and indicates that Mensa is a 'round table' society in which no individual has preference.

Mensa has no racial, political, ideological or religious affiliation but promotes the concept of free thinking and free speech amongst its members.  Therefore Mensa does not in itself have a view on most topics, but reflects a wide variety of different views.  The general principle is that if even one member out of 100,000 holds an opposing view on something, the opinion of the rest cannot be said to represent Mensa's view.  It is held that each member is intelligent enough to make his or her own judgment on controversial topics.

Members The only common binding thread is that all members must have attained a score within the upper 2% of the general population on an approved test, as determined and administered by Mensa psychologists.  There is no other basis for membership, whoever you are, whatever you do.

Currently there are over 100,000 members in over 100 countries around the world.  The largest concentrations are in the UK and USA, but in recent years new groups have been set up in many parts of Asia and other countries.