With everything going on in the world and the United States, nowadays, you might wonder what the rest of the world thinks about us. Not only is this interesting information to know, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, it’s essential for you to personally know how other countries generally view the U.S. if you plan to travel somewhere new. Having knowledge of the views towards Americans in the country you’re visiting is important from a social and safety standpoint. For example, if you’re traveling to Italy, that’s great news because 76% of Italians have a positive view of the U.S., but you might want to be careful in Argentina, as only 41% of people think the same of us there.
A new Global Attitudes Project Report was recently published (in July 2013) and compiled by the Pew Research Center, and its findings are pretty interesting. I have summarized some of the report and the statistics below, as I found it incredibly fascinating.
Good news for the United States overall: 63% of people around the world have a favorable view of our country… 30% have an unfavorable view, and 7% say they don’t know. In regards to seeing the U.S. as a partner, 59% of people say yes, 8% see us as an enemy, 24% say neither, and 5% responded that they don’t know. Whether other countries think that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people, 70% responded yes, 16% responded no, and 11% responded that they don’t know.
On the negative side, the majority of the world doesn’t think that the U.S. really thinks about other countries and/or what they may want or need. In the question, “Does the U.S. consider your country’s interests?” only 37% responded to “great deal / fair amount” while the majority, 58%, said “not too much / not at all.”
Specific views in parts of the world
In regards to specific countries and areas around the world, the majority (over 50%) of people in all areas except the Middle East have a favorable view of the United States. In summary, people from Africa and Latin America love us the most, and not really shocking—the Middle East—loves us the least. What came as a somewhat surprise to me, though, is that Europe as a whole came in with lower favorable ratings than most of the rest of the world.
Specific findings are listed below, and I have ranked them from the areas in the world that like the United States the most, down to those that have the least favorable views of our country.
Africa – 77% favorable overall
African countries came in with the highest favorable views of the United States than all other areas of the world. Specifically, Ghana, Senegal, and Kenya came in at the highest approval rate (over 80%), but I personally have to wonder if those figures for Kenya might change since the mall bombing; if some of the terrorists ARE linked to the U.S. South Africans have a 72% favorable view on the U.S., which is good to hear, since James and I are currently living in South Africa at the moment 🙂
Latin America – 66% favorable overall
Most countries in Latin America have a pretty favorable view of the U.S.: El Salvador at 79%, Brazil at 73%, Chile at 68%, and Mexico at 66%. However, Argentina came in pretty low: only 41% of the people have a favorable view of the U.S. I’m not quite sure why Argentine has such a low favorable view of us, do you?
Asia Pacific – 64% favorable overall
The Asia Pacific area is HUGE, and it covers many western nations as well, but the opinions from each country couldn’t be more different! As no surprise, China’s view on the U.S. is pretty low, with only 40% favorable, and Pakistan comes in at 11%. Then we have the larger nations of Australia in at 66% with a favorable view on the US, Japan at 69%, and South Korea at a whopping 78%! If that wasn’t a high enough rating, the Philippines come in at the highest overall favorable rating with 85%! It’s funny, because I have to wonder if these statistics really reflect on the way those people would treat Americans traveling in their home country…. and it makes me wonder if this would relate to how we were treated when we traveled. I mean, most people in China wouldn’t have any clue that we were from the U.S… we could be from anywhere in Europe or Australia for all they know. However, it sure seemed like the Chinese didn’t like us very much. On the other hand, the Japanese DID seem to like us, and were very warm and welcoming to us. Then again, that could just be because Japanese people, in general, seem to be the more kind and loving people in the world!
Europe – 58% favorable overall
Hmmm… so I guess Europe, as a whole, doesn’t look very fondly on the U.S. More specifically, Greece (39% favorable view on the U.S.) and Germany (53%) come in at the lowest. The places in Europe where people look more favorably on the U.S. include Italy (76%), Poland (67%), France (64%), and Spain (62%). I have to say, all of these figures are surprising to me… I really wouldn’t have thought that Germany would have such an unfavorable view on the US and France WOULD! Interesting for sure…
Middle East – 21% favorable overall
Well, it’s definitely NO surprise here… Most of the Middle East does NOT like the U.S. Among the lowest favorable rates are Jordan at 14%, Egypt and Palestine Territory both at 16%, and Turkey at 21%. Lebanon (47%) and Tunisia (42%) come in around the middle of the pack, and Israel has an astoundingly high favorable rate for the U.S. at 83%!
So what does this all mean? Well, you can derive your own conclusions from these findings. But I sure do know: You can’t make everybody happy in the world. And depending on the media coverage, views of the U.S. and other countries can be skewed positively or negatively, depending on the regulations of their country. (For example, China HIGHLY sensors its internet and media, so if they want you to think positively or negatively towards a certain subject, the government WILL take actions in what media you have available to sway your thoughts and opinions.) In the world, people will always have disagreements and different opinions about what is right and wrong. One thing to be noted by all this, though, is how the whole world can REALLY be affected by the decisions made in the U.S. Think about it.
One more thing to ponder, as well, is how have views changed since this report went out? The countries polled were asked these questions back in MARCH AND APRIL of 2013, and SO MUCH has happened since then! Same sex marriage was finally legally allowed in many U.S. states (a positive in my mind), but everything else from this year seems pretty dismal (trust me, I HUNTED for some positive news from the U.S. this year)… The commotion in Syria, the mall bombings in Kenya, multiple massive shootings in the U.S., the U.S. government shutdown. OH YEA… and recently when I was doing research on the AIDS epidemic down here in South Africa, I found that earlier this year Obama cut over $200 million from global AIDS programs, which directly affected South Africa and other African countries in a BAD way. It would be interesting to see how these approval figures above might have changed in just a six month period.
What are your thoughts on all this? Have any of these figures surprised or shocked you? Or are they pretty much what you already thought? Feel free to comment below!