Views of US Continue to Improve in 2011 BBC Country Rating Poll

Views of US Continue to Improve in 2011 BBC Country Rating Poll

March 7, 2011

Full Report (PDF)

Views of the US continued their overall improvement in 2011, according to the annual BBC World Service Country Rating Poll of 27 countries around the world.

Of the countries surveyed, 18 hold predominantly positive views of the US, seven hold negative views and two are divided. On average , 49 per cent of people have positive views of US influence in the world–up four points from 2010–and 31 per cent hold negative views. The poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA, asked a total of 28,619 people to rate the influence in the world of 16 major nations, plus the European Union.

In 2007 a slight majority (54%) had a negative view of the United States and only close to three in ten (28%) had a positive view; America was among the countries with the lowest ratings. Views began to rise in 2008, with positive views rising to 32% on average, and now the USA is in a middle tier position, ranking substantially higher than China.

A country that showed even greater improvement this year was Brazil. Positive views of Brazil’s influence jumped from 40 to 49 per cent on average over the previous year, with negative views dropping to just 20 per cent. Views of Brazil are now predominantly positive in all but two of the countries polled (Germany and China).

In the year when South Africa hosted the World Cup, the proportion positively rating its influence in the world rose significantly, from 35 to 42 per cent. Germany was again the most positively viewed nation, with 62 per cent rating its influence as positive (up 3 points).

Overall, positive ratings increased of 13 of the 16 nations rated. These also included the United Kingdom, whose positive ratings rose five points to 58 per cent, making it, for the first time, the second most positively rated country. This upwards movement for many countries counters a downward movement found in 2010, but also, in most cases, surpasses the levels found in earlier years.

In marked contrast, the three most negatively viewed countries saw their average ratings go from bad to worse, including Iran (59% negative, up 3 points since 2010), North Korea (55%, up 6 points), and Pakistan (56%, up 5 points). There was a significant increase in negative views of Iran in key Western countries including the United Kingdom (up 20 points), Canada (up 19 points), the USA (up 18 points), and Australia (up 15 points). However, Israel, for many years among the least positively viewed nations, bucked this trend, keeping its negative ratings at 49 per cent and showing a slight lift in positive ratings from 19 to 21 per cent.

The BBC World Service Country Rating Poll has been tracking opinions about country influence in the world since 2005. The latest results are based on 28,619 in-home or telephone interviews conducted across a total of 27 countries by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011.

“There seems to be a consolidation of the ‘Obama effect’ here,” notes Steven Kull, Director of PIPA at the University of Maryland, which worked on the poll together with GlobeScan.

Detailed Findings

The survey also finds that there has been a significant worsening of Chinese attitudes towards Russia during the past year. Positive views of Russia dropped eight points in China to 47 per cent, while negative views surged by 21 points to 40 per cent. Views of Russia improved this year in most other countries.

It also suggests that views of France in the USA are at last starting to improve. They rose 14 points to 56 per cent over the last year, and are now higher than at any stage since the first year of the poll in 2005. They reached a low point in 2006, when only around a third of Americans had a positive view of French influence in the world (34%) while nearly half (48%) considered that France’s influence in the world was negative.

As views of the USA continue to improve globally, the upwards trend is also apparent in Muslim countries. For the first time, a majority of Indonesians are now positive about the USA’s role in the world (58%, a rise of 22 points over the last year). Negative views of the USA in Turkey have dropped sharply from 70 per cent to 49 per cent, while negative views in Pakistan of the USA have also fallen slightly, from 52 per cent to 46 per cent. Conversely, Egypt, after a lift in 2009 and 2010, has reverted to a predominantly negative view of the USA, with 50 per cent of Egyptians considering that the USA’s role in the world is mostly negative.

As is the case with Iran, the worsening in views of Pakistan is particularly apparent in some key Western countries. Negative views of Pakistan jumped from 44 to 68 per cent in the United Kingdom, 58 to 75 per cent in the USA, 54 to 74 per cent in Australia, and 49 to 67 per cent in Canada.

While overall views of Israel have not moved substantially over the past year, there have been significant increases in negative views of the country among Americans (negatives rising from 31% to 41%) and Britons (from 50% to 66%).

In total 28,619 citizens in 27 countries, were interviewed face-to-face, or by telephone December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011. Countries were rated by half samples in all countries polled. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. In eight of the 27 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.8 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Global Views of: the United States, China, Japan, North Korea, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, France, South Africa, Israel, Canada, the European Union, Russia, Iran, Brazil, Germany, South Korea

The United States

Views of the US continued their overall improvement in 2011, confirming the trend seen in 2010. Of the 27 countries surveyed, 18 hold positive views, seven hold negative views, and two are divided. In the 24 tracking countries surveyed both in 2010 and 2011, an average of 49 per cent of people have positive views of US influence in the world, and 31 per cent hold negative views. This represents a substantial improvement since 2010, as positive views increased by four per cent and negative views dropped three points.

The most favourable views are found in the Philippines (90%, up 8 points), Ghana (84%, up 12 points), and Nigeria (76%, up 12 points). South Korean views on US influence markedly improved as positive ratings rose to 74 per cent (up 17 points), while negative ratings dropped from 38 per cent to 19 per cent.

Elsewhere, a marked improvement in perceptions of the US is seen in Brazil, where positive views are up nine points (64%) and negative views declined significantly (21%, down 14 points). In Indonesia, opinion shifted from being divided to being positive. Fifty-eight per cent of Indonesians have positive views in 2011, compared to 36 per cent in 2010, and negative views decreased by 14 points (25%). In Russia, opinion also shifted: while 50 per cent had a negative view of US influence in 2010, Russians now lean favourable; a plurality of 38 per cent (up 13 points) now has a positive view, while negative views dropped 19 points (31%). In another country at the edge of Europe, Turkey, perceptions remained negative overall, but there was nevertheless a 22-point increase in positive views (35%) and a strong drop in negative ratings (49%, down 21 points).

In Western Europe, views have cooled somewhat, and the improvement that was seen in most countries in 2010 has not continued. Leaning favourable in 2010, opinions in Spain and the United Kingdom are now divided, as negative views have increased in both countries (up 5 points and 8 points, respectively). German views remain stable and still lean negative (37% vs 44%).

A major shift in perceptions of the US has taken place in Egypt, where a majority of 50 per cent now has negative views of the US. This represents a 21-point increase since 2010, while positive views decreased by 19 points to 26 per cent. Canada offers a similar picture: after becoming more positive than negative in 2010, Canadians reversed the trend in 2011, and a plurality of 47% (up 9 points) is now leaning negative.

In Asia, a majority of Chinese is now holding negative views (53%, up 9 points), and although views improved a bit in Pakistan, they are still largely negative overall (16% vs 46%).

In Mexico, views softened a bit, with a ten-point increase in positive views (23%) and a drop in negative views (38%, down 11 points), but the overall picture remains largely negative.

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Global views of China improved in 2011 from 2010. Among the countries surveyed both in 2010 and 2011, an average of 44 per cent say that China has a positive influence in the world, compared to 40 per cent in 2010. The proportion of people holding the opposite view remained steady (38%).

Despite this overall improvement, the spread by country is split (as was the case in 2010): 13 countries hold positive views, 13 hold negative views, and one is divided.

The most favourable views towards China are found in Nigeria (85%, up 12 points), Ghana (72%, up 9 points), and Kenya (73%). In Latin America, views of China are also generally very positive, with majorities in Chile (61%), Peru (57%), and Brazil (55%) having positive views of China’s influence. However, opinion has shifted to negative in Mexico. While a small plurality of Mexicans leaned positive in 2010 (32%), the percentage fell to 23 per cent this year, and perceptions have been aggravated by the 16-point rise in negative ratings (42%).

In Asia, significant improvements in perceptions of China are seen in Indonesia (63%, up 20%) and Pakistan (66%, up 10 points). Filipino views also got warmer (62%, up 7 points), confirming the firm improvement of views towards China noticed in 2010.

Views of China also markedly improved in Russia, as a majority of 52 per cent is now rating Chinese influence positively (up 10 points), while negative views (18%) dropped 13 points.

In Australia, opinion shifted a bit: only 36 per cent took a positive view in 2010, but this has gone up to 43 per cent in 2011. Australia is now divided on its views towards China, whereas a plurality of Australians was negative in 2010.

However, the picture is less favourable in the other Anglo-Saxon countries polled, where views have cooled. Negative views are up eight points in Canada (49%). In the United Kingdom, negative ratings rose to 48 per cent (up 10 points), making the country’s opinion negative instead of divided, as it was in 2010. In the US, a majority of Americans lean negative (51%), but positive views have increased by seven points, to 36 per cent.

Opinions of China’s influence are negative everywhere in Europe, with the exception of Russia. France (64%), Germany (62%), Spain (57%), and Italy (56%) hold the most negative views among all surveyed countries. But ratings in Italy are less negative than in 2010: positive views more than doubled (30%, up 16 points), and negative views dropped 16 points.

In Asia, negative views are found in South Korea, Japan, and India. The Japanese public has become more unfavourable, with a majority of 52 per cent saying that Chinese influence is negative, compared to just 38 per cent in 2010. Positive ratings have dropped six points to just 12 per cent. Negative views increased in India (52%, up 14 points). South Koreans still lean negative as well, but not so much as in 2010 (53% negative, down 8 points).

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Japan continues to have very favourable ratings globally in 2011, and those have improved since 2010. On average, among the 24 tracking countries surveyed in both 2010 and 2011, 57 per cent of people have a positive opinion of Japan’s influence in the world, which represents a four per cent increase over 2010. Only one in five holds a negative view (21% in 2010). Twenty-five countries lean positive, and two negative.

China and Mexico are the two countries with a balance of negative views. Chinese views have worsened particularly, as more than seven in ten Chinese (71%) rate Japan negatively, a 24-point increase since 2010. At the same time, positive ratings (18%) have fallen 11 points. In Mexico, opinion shifted from positive to negative. Positive views declined (24%, down 7 points) and negative views rose (34%, up 9 points).

In the US and the United Kingdom negative views increased by seven and ten per cent, respectively, but strong majorities remain positive in both countries (69% of Americans and 58% of British).

In Kenya, perceptions cooled slightly as positive views decreased to 61 per cent (down 7 points) while negative ratings increased (20%, up 5 points). Views in the other African countries surveyed in 2010 remained steady.

Positive views towards Japan have increased significantly in various countries around the world. The most favourable publics are Indonesians and Filipinos, with very high majorities leaning positive (85% and 84%, respectively). Latin American countries–except Mexico–have very similar opinions of Japan’s influence, with almost two thirds giving positive ratings in Brazil, Chile, and Peru.

In Europe, already positive perceptions have further improved in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and Russia. Sharp increases in positive ratings have been combined with significant decreases in negative views in all of these countries. The same pattern is seen in Turkey: Turkish opinion shifted from being divided to being strongly positive in 2011 (64% positive vs 21% negative).

Pakistani and Indian perceptions of Japan’s influence both improved, but the proportions of positive views (34% in Pakistan, 39% in India) remain low compared to other countries reporting positive views of Japan.

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North Korea

Views of North Korea, already among the world’s least favourable in 2010, have grown slightly more negative since. In the 25 tracking countries, an average of 55 per cent rate North Korea’s influence negatively, and 16 per cent rate it positively. Compared to 2010, negative views are up six points globally. Of the 27 countries polled in 2011, 25 lean negative, while only one leans positive (Ghana), and one is divided.

2010 was marked by two serious military confrontations between North and South Korea. In South Korea, views of its neighbour have grown more negative by five points (95%), while positive views have remained about the same (3%).

In Nigeria, views have shifted from leaning positive to leaning negative. Favourable opinions dropped six points down to 29 per cent, and negative views are up by the same margin (35%, up from 29%).

Numerous countries with previously negative views have hardened their positions. In the UK, negative views have increased by 28 points (81%). Among Canadians, negative views have risen by 26 points (81%). Unfavourable ratings have also increased significantly in Australia (81%, up 16 points), the US (86%, up 16 points), Canada (81%, up 26 points), Portugal (64%, up 14 points), and Spain (69%, up 12 points).

Countries with less negative past views of North Korea’s influence in the world have become more negative. Among Brazilians, positive views have fallen 16 points (15%) and negative views are up eight points (55%). In Indonesia, negative views rose ten points to 38 per cent, and in the Philippines they increased by seven points (57%). Mexican views also cooled, as negative ratings have doubled since 2010 (28%). However, neutral views or non-responses on this question are still very frequent in Mexico.

In China, non-responses decreased while both positive and negative evaluations increased: the former by ten points (34%) and the latter by 11 points (51%).

Two countries softened their views on North Korea while continuing to offer unfavourable views overall. In Turkey, positive views have risen by 17 points (28%) while negative views have dropped seven points (38%). Among Italians, positive views doubled from seven per cent to 14 per cent, but this percentage remains very low compared to the negative rating (62%).

Chilean attitudes towards North Korea remained divided in 2011 (30% vs 33%). Ghana’s exceptionally positive views represent a shift from last year, as positive views increased by 12 points (37%), and negative views decreased by 11 points (21%).

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United Kingdom

Globally, views of the United Kingdom have improved markedly since 2010: 58 per cent say that British influence in the world is positive. This is notably more positive than in 2010 when 53 per cent held this opinion in the 24 tracking countries. Over the same period, negative views decreased by two per cent, down to 17 per cent. At a country level, views are positive in almost all countries. Of the 27 countries polled, 24 lean positive, two lean negative, and one is divided.

Significant increases in positive views are observed in 13 countries, while a drop is seen in only one. In Kenya, favourable views dropped 12 points, but still remain at very high levels (67%). Views went from very warm to even warmer in fellow Anglo-Saxon countries: up 11 points in the US (80%), 17 points in Australia (79%), and seven points in Canada (69%).

Ratings of the United Kingdom from European countries are also very good overall. Strong majorities with favourable views are observed in all countries except Russia and Portugal, where substantial pluralities still lean positive (both 48%). In Germany particularly, perceptions of British influence have improved greatly since 2010: positive views (67%) increased by 14 points, while negative ratings (10%) dropped 17 points. At the periphery of Europe, Turkish views have also become much more favourable. Positive views rose to 41 per cent (up 23 points), while negative opinions fell 13 points (40%), shifting Turkey from a negative to a divided view of the UK’s influence.

As in Europe, views in Africa are very positive, with solid majorities leaning positive in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. In Egypt, just over half have favourable impressions of British influence (52%), and negative views are very low (10%). In Asia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia also lean positive. In China, a plurality still leans positive (48%), but negative views increased by 16 points to 37 per cent. India is the other country where negative views increased (28%, up 10 points), but positive views also increased over the same time (40%, up 7 points), leaving Indian views on the United Kingdom little changed overall.

In Mexico, while opinion leans negative, views softened a bit as positive ratings increased by ten points to 26 per cent, and negative ratings dropped seven points to 33 per cent. Other Latin American countries have pluralities–or a majority in the case of Chile–with positive views. Along with Mexico, Pakistan is the other country with negative views. Perceptions among Pakistanis have somewhat improved since 2010, but attitudes remain very negative overall (14% for positive, up 5 points; 33% for negative, down 5 points).

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Views of Pakistan, already negative in 2010, have grown more so over the past year. On average, 56 per cent in the 24 tracking countries surveyed both in 2010 and 2011 offer an unfavourable view of Pakistan’s influence, and 17 per cent offer a favourable view. This represents a five-point rise in negative views since 2010. Of the 27 countries polled in 2011, 23 lean negative, three lean positive, and one is divided.

In China, with more respondents offering an evaluation than in 2010, the country moved from being divided to leaning negative. While there was an increase in favourable ratings of seven points (37%), negative ratings grew by 13 points (47%). In Mexico, opinion also shifted following a ten-point rise in negative views (30%), as Mexicans went from positive to being divided in their views of Pakistan.

A number of countries with clearly unfavourable leanings have become even more negative, including the US (75%, up from 58%), Australia (74%, up from 54%), the Philippines (79%, up from 61%), and Portugal (63%, up from 57%).

Some countries with more moderate views have hardened them. Negative views in the United Kingdom jumped 24 points to 68 per cent, and in Canada they increased by 18 points (67%). In Nigeria, favourable views have fallen 16 points (16%), while unfavourable views have risen ten points (50%). In Ghana, unfavourable views grew by 13 points (49%), while favourable ratings diminished (9%, down 6 points). Positive attitudes in Kenya have dropped six points (33%) while negative views increased (42%). As a result, Kenyan opinion shifted from being divided to leaning negative. Among Mexicans, negative views are up by ten points (30%), constituting a shift in overall opinion from positive to divided.

Views in several countries have bucked the general trend and have warmed. This change is most significant in Turkey, which leaned negative in 2010 and now leans positive. Favourable ratings are up by a remarkable 41 points (56%), and unfavourable ratings are down 18 points (28%). Negative evaluations have become slightly milder in three countries: Egypt (28%, down from 36%), Japan (37%, down from 45%), and Russia (38%, down from 46%). A seven-point change has also occurred in Germany (76%, down from 83%).

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Globally, views of India have improved significantly since the past year. Forty-two per cent of people among the 24 tracking countries surveyed both in 2010 and 2011 have favourable views of Indian influence, while 29 per cent give negative ratings. This represents a six-point increase in positive views, while negative views remained stable (30% in 2010). Of 27 countries polled, 17 lean positive, four lean negative, and six are divided.

Under this generally positive picture, however, views have shifted positively or negatively in several countries. Although Americans and British still lean largely positive (56% and 50%, respectively), their views of India’s influence in world affairs have deteriorated over the past year, with negative ratings increasing sharply in both countries (29%, up 11 points in the US, 35%, up 19 points in the UK). The same trend is observed in Australia, where negative views are up 18 points compared to 2010, and Australian opinion shifted from being positive in 2010 to divided in 2011 (44% vs 45%).

In Europe, France’s views of India worsened. Somewhat negative in 2010 (38% vs 43%), a solid plurality is now leaning negative (49%, up 6 points). Spain is the other European country with a plurality of negative views towards India (41%), although positive ratings have increased by eight points (29%). Unfavourable in 2010, German and Portuguese views became warmer this year as negative perceptions decreased by 13 and ten points respectively: as a result, opinion in these countries is now divided. Positive views also increased by six points in Portugal. Italy is the most favourable country towards India in Europe–and second among all countries surveyed. More than six in ten (61%) lean positive, a 19-point rise since 2010, while negative views dropped ten points in the same time (24%). Another striking improvement of views of India’s influence is found in Turkey, where opinion shifted from negative to positive, following an overwhelming increase of 34 per cent in positive views and an eight-point decline in negative views.

Other countries where positive views have significantly increased are South Korea (66%, up 10 points–the most favourable country towards India in the survey), and Nigeria (57%, up 15 points). In China, too, positive views went up from 29 per cent in 2010 to 40 per cent this year, and Chinese opinion is now divided after leaning negative in 2010. An improvement is also seen in Egypt, where views went from somewhat negative in 2010 to positive in 2011. This remains a thin plurality (27%), and more than half of Egyptians (55%) have no strong opinion about India’s influence.

In Latin America, views of India are mixed. Pluralities in Chile and Mexico have positive and quite stable views of India. Asked to evaluate India for the first time, Peruvians are divided (21% vs 24%). Brazilians perception cooled a little, with a six-point decrease in positive views, making them shift from positive to divided. A similar drop in positive views happened in Indonesia, but a plurality of Indonesians still leans positive (42% vs 26%). In the Philippines, a majority is now leaning negative (53%, up 8 points). Pakistan remains the least positive country towards India: only 16 per cent have favourable views, but this percentage is up eight points this year, while negative views have declined nine per cent (39%).

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Views of France remained positive in almost all countries surveyed in 2011, as was the case in 2010. Of 27 countries polled, 25 countries gave French influence in the world positive ratings, and two countries were divided (Turkey and Pakistan). Among countries tracked in 2010 and 2011, an average of 52 per cent say they have positive views of France, a three-point increase, while the proportion holding negative views has remained stable (19%).

Positive ratings of France increased in all Anglo-Saxon countries. The most notable improvement is seen in the US, where 56 per cent consider France’s influence to be positive (up 14 points since 2010). This is the first time a solid majority has reported this since polling started in the US in 2005. Percentages of favourable opinion are very similar in Australia (54%, up 7 points), Canada (56%, up 5 points), and the United Kingdom (54%, up 6 points). In the last case, however, the increase is largely balanced by a significant rise in negative views (29%, up 11 points).

All European countries except Turkey lean positive, but analysis shows that perceptions are less favourable than they were. Italy and Germany have the most positive views of France (68% and 62%, respectively), but negative ratings increased by six points in Italy since 2010. Interestingly, Portugal and Spain’s views both became significantly cooler. Half of Spaniards have positive views of France in 2011, an 11-point decrease since 2010, and negative views have doubled (24%). In Portugal, positive ratings have fallen 22 points, by far the lowest score since tracking in this country began in 2006, and negative ratings have risen nine points (17%). In Russia, positive views somewhat decreased (58%, down 5 points).

Ratings of France’s influence are positive in all surveyed African countries, and highest in Nigeria (68%) and Ghana (62%), where proportions rating French influence positively increased markedly since 2010 (up 16 points in both countries). The opposite trend is seen in Kenya, where positive views dropped 19 points, although a strong plurality still holds positive views (46% positive vs 23% negative).

As in Portugal, a dramatic drop in positive ratings took place in Brazil. Almost seven Brazilians in ten (69%) viewed France’s influence as positive in 2010, but this fell 21 points to 48 per cent in 2011, while negative ratings increased by nine points, from 14 per cent to 23 per cent.

South Korea is the country with the most favourable views towards France (82%, up 13 points). In the other Asian countries, Indonesians are also favourable about France, with a strong majority of 60 per cent rating it positively (up 11 points). In China, people are more likely to state an opinion on this question in 2011 than in 2010 (5% did not answer, as opposed to 24%), and this has translated in higher proportions rating France both positively (46%, up 8 points) and negatively (38%, up 14 points). Indian views became slightly more positive (37%, up 6 points). In Japan, positive views have fallen six points, down to 31 per cent.

Two countries with negative views in 2010 are now split in their opinions towards France. In Turkey, positive views more than doubled (36%, up from 17%), while negative perceptions dropped 14 points (39%). In Pakistan, views also shifted from negative to divided, but the proportion giving positive ratings to France’s influence remains very low (21%, up 9 points).

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South Africa

Views of South Africa improved sharply in 2011, continuing the positive trend observed since tracking in this country began in 2009. Of 27 countries, 17 have positive views, two lean negative, and eight are divided. When looking at the average of 25 tracking countries, this improvement of perceptions of South Africa’s influence is seen clearly. Forty-two per cent of people globally have positive views. This represents a seven-point increase since 2010, and is the second highest improvement in positive views among all countries rated, after Brazil. Negative views remained steady at 27 per cent.

Confirming last year’s observation, South Africa is particularly popular among its African counterparts. Positive views are the highest in Kenya (73%), Nigeria (67%), and Ghana (57%). In Egypt, a dramatic change of perceptions occurred, as positive views rose 26 points (40%) while negative ratings fell 14 points to 13 per cent, making the overall view shift from negative to positive.

In Brazil, views shifted from being divided in 2010 to leaning positive in 2011 (42% vs 36%), thanks to a seven-point drop in negative views. Other Latin American countries show strong pluralities with positive views (48% in Mexico and 43% in Chile), except in Peru where opinion is divided (23% vs 24%).

Views are getting warmer in North America, with significant improvements observed in South Africa’s positive influence ratings in Canada (45%, up 9 points) and the US (50%, up 13 points).

South Korea’s view improved and went from being divided to positive, with a majority of 54 per cent (up 14 points) saying they see South Africa’s influence positively. Favourable opinions tripled in Turkey (43%, up 30 points), making Turkish views shift from negative to positive. European opinions towards South Africa are quite diverse: Spain went from being negative to divided, thanks to a 15-point increase in positive views (35%), but the United Kingdom went from leaning positive to being divided as a 17-point increase in negative views (42%) outweighed a seven-point rise in positive views (43%). While Italians were divided in 2010, a majority of 54 per cent is now leaning favourable (up 14 points), and negative ratings have dropped nine points over the same time (28%). Germany is the only country in Europe with negative views towards South Africa.

Australia’s opinion remained divided in 2011, as people without a stated opinion in 2010 split equally between giving positive and negative ratings (both up 13 points to 43%). In the Philippines, positive views have increased by 11 points, but opinion remains negative overall (35% positive vs 52% negative). In China, views have shifted since 2010 following a 22-point rise in negative ratings (41% in 2011), and the Chinese public is now divided. In Indonesia, close to four in ten rate South Africa positively (38%, up 7 points), and opinion has shifted from being divided to leaning positive.

The least favourable countries towards South Africa are Japan, Pakistan, and Russia (16%, 17%, and 19% positive views, respectively). Publics in these countries are divided, and all three have high proportions of people who did not state an opinion on this question.

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Evaluations of Israel’s influence in the world are still broadly unfavourable. However, unlike countries that have seen their negative views worsen, Israel has seen a very slight improvement. On average among the 25 tracking countries, positive views are up by two per cent, while negative views remain the same as in 2010. Forty-nine per cent give Israel an unfavourable evaluation, and 21 per cent give it a favourable one. Out of 27 countries polled in 2011, 22 lean negative, two lean positive, and three are divided.

Despite the static nature of the overall trend, views of individual countries have shifted in both directions. Perhaps the most interesting shift is the change in American opinion, as the US public is now divided rather than favourable in its rating. While positive ratings have remained quite stable since 2010 (43%), negative ratings are up by ten points (41%).

Two nations moved from leaning negative or being divided to leaning positive. Among Ghanaians, favourable evaluations are up 11 points (32%) and unfavourable evaluations are down nine points (27%). Among Russians, favourable evaluations rose six points (35%), while unfavourable evaluations have fallen 13 points (17%, down from 30%).

Others who have moderated their negative views include Indians, who have shifted from a negative position to being divided as their negative rating dropped by 11 points (18%). Chilean views have warmed significantly, with positive ratings up six points to 25 per cent and negative ratings (38%) down by the same margin, yet a plurality of the opinion remains negative. In the Philippines, positive views are up 13 points (31%). Negative views are down in Egypt by 14 points (78%). In China, positive views increased by ten points (32%), but this has been balanced by an eight-point increase in negative ratings (48%).

On the other hand, several countries other than the US have become more negative in their views of Israel’s influence. Kenya, which leaned somewhat favourable in 2010, is now unfavourable in its opinion, with positive ratings down by ten points (29%) and negative ratings up by seven (41%). Negative perceptions grew sharper in the United Kingdom (66%, up 16 points), Canada (52%, up 14 points), Indonesia (68%, up 12 points), Australia (58%, up 11 points), Portugal (52%, up 6 points), and Spain (66%, up 6 points). Favourable ratings among Brazilians dropped eight points (13%).

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After a decline in last year’s poll, favourable views of Canada are again on the rise. On average, across the 24 tracking countries, 57 per cent gave Canada a favourable evaluation, and 12 per cent an unfavourable evaluation. The overall positive rating is up five points from 2010, while the negative rating has remained mostly stable. Of the 27 countries surveyed this year, all lean positive except Pakistan, where opinion is divided.

Some of the biggest positive shifts have been in countries with which Canada has a close relationship. Positive views are up 16 points in the United Kingdom (78%), 15 points in the United States (82%), and 13 points in Mexico (50%). Negative views also decreased by seven points in Mexico (14%).

Other publics that have become more favourable towards Canada are found in Italy (74%, up 9 points), Indonesia (45%, up 8 points), the Philippines (83%, up 8 points), Australia (79%, up 8 points), Russia (51%, up 7 points), and South Korea (84%, up 7 points).

Shifts in views of Canada’s influence have occurred in three majority-Muslim countries. The most dramatic change is Turkey, which went from leaning negative to leaning positive, with favourable views up 19 points (35%) and negative views down nine points (26%). Egypt, divided in 2010, now leans positive as well, favourable views having risen by 14 points (32%). In Pakistan, evaluations have shifted from leaning negative to being divided as favourable views have increased by six points (17%). However, a strong majority in Pakistan still states no strong opinion about Canada.

In two countries, negative ratings have decreased significantly. Among Nigerians, negative evaluations are down 18 points to 8 per cent, while positive evaluations are up 12 points to 55 per cent. Views in India have grown less negative by seven points (13%), while positive ratings are up five points (29%). Indian opinion is now leaning positive after being divided in 2010.

Two countries were exceptions to the general trend, as their positive views of Canada weakened. In Kenya, favourable attitudes are down 16 points (39%) and unfavourable attitudes are up seven points (24%). Positive perceptions in Brazil have dropped 12 points (48%, down from 60%). In China, negative views have risen by 17 points (29%), but there is still a strong majority of 56 per cent of Chinese who say Canada has a positive influence in the world.

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The European Union

The European Union’s global influence rating improved in 2011. On average, 57 per cent of people in the 25 tracking countries give positive views. This went up four points since 2010, while proportions of negative views continued to be low and stable at 18 per cent. Among the 27 countries surveyed in 2011, 26 lean positive and only one leans negative (Pakistan).

All EU members have majorities with positive views of the EU: Italy is the most favourable country within the Union (73%), closely followed by France and Germany (70% and 69%, respectively). However, views have cooled significantly in Portugal: positive ratings decreased 11 points to 57 per cent, and negative ratings are up seven points, although they remain at very low levels (14%). In the United Kingdom, just one in two has a favourable view towards the EU, and negative views have increased very markedly (37%, up 15 points). Outside the EU, peripheral countries also show positive views of the Union. In Turkey, views went from being negative in 2010 to being positive in 2011, with a 17-point increase in positive views (46%) combined with a 16-point drop in negative ratings (29%). In Russia, views became warmer, as negative views dropped seven points (10%) and positive views increased slightly (55%, up 5 points).

In North America, the EU enjoys very favourable ratings. Positive ratings increased significantly in both Canada (70%, up 13 points) and the US (61%, up 11 points), regaining their 2009 levels and reversing the marked dips of 2010. In Latin America, all countries lean positive, but a cooling in Brazilian perceptions of the EU’s influence is observed, with positive views down six points to 47 per cent and negative ratings up six points to 27 per cent. Mexicans are more inclined to rate the EU positively than in 2010 (51%, up 8 points).

Views of the EU in Africa remain also very positive overall. Opinion improved in Ghana (74%, up 10 points), and in Nigeria (63%, up 5 points only, but with negative views falling 13 points). A majority of South Africans (51%) rate the EU positively, and a plurality of Egyptians (40%) does the same. An eight-point decline in favourable views is observed in Kenya, but overall perception remains largely positive (61% vs 15%).

In Asia, positive views are the highest, and have strengthened in South Korea (84%, up 9 points). Increases are also seen in the Philippines (65%, up 11 points) and Indonesia (54%, up 10 points). In China, a majority hold favourable views towards the EU (51%, up 10 points) despite an 11-point increase in negative ratings (33%). Positive views have also risen in India (34%, up 11 points), and opinion there has shifted from divided in 2010 to positive in 2011. Pakistan is the only country showing negative views towards the EU overall (17% vs 29%), although positive views rose seven points since 2010.

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Views on Russia’s influence remain negative globally, although attitudes have improved significantly since 2010. Thirty-four per cent of people among the 24 tracking countries say Russian influence is positive, a five per cent increase since 2010. Negative ratings are stable at 38 per cent. Out of 27 countries, only nine lean positive, 11 have negative views, and seven are divided.

US perceptions of Russia have improved and shifted from being negative to divided. Thirty-eight per cent of Americans now have positive views of Russia’s influence, up 14 points since 2010, and more than twice the 2009 proportion (18%). In the other Anglo-Saxon countries polled, Canadians remained divided (37% vs 38%), while Australians continue to lean negative, as an eight-point rise in positive views (37%) was counterbalanced by a nine-point increase in negative views (43%). In the United Kingdom, views have cooled very significantly: negative views jumped to 55 per cent (up 22 points), and opinion shifted from being divided to strongly negative in 2011 (29% vs 55%).

In continental Europe, all countries except Italy have negative perceptions of Russia’s influence in the world, but a number of those have moderated notably. Positive views increased by seven points in Portugal (28%) and Spain (30%), and by 21 points in Turkey (37%). In Italy, the proportion of people who say they see Russia positively increased by 12 points (41%), and the overall opinion shifted from being negative to divided (41% vs 45%). However, views have deteriorated in Germany, with positive ratings falling ten points to 20 per cent.

Slightly more positive evaluations of Russia’s influence are found in Latin America, where substantial pluralities with positive views continue to be seen in Brazil and Chile (both 40%). Opinions are divided in Mexico–where it shifted up from negative in 2010–and in Peru.

In Africa, pluralities have positive views in three countries: Nigeria (38%), Egypt (37%), and Ghana (32%). While Egyptian and Ghanaian opinions remained stable compared to 2010, opinion shifted from negative to positive in Nigeria (38% vs 30% in 2011, compared to 31% vs 42% in 2010). People in Kenya and South Africa are divided on Russia’s influence.

The most positive views of Russia are found in India, where positive ratings jumped to 58 per cent (up 26 points). In China, the proportion giving negative ratings has doubled since 2010 (40%, up 21 points), and positive views have also declined eight points, but overall opinion still leans positive. South Koreans went from being negative to being positive regarding Russia’s influence rating: in 2011, 47 per cent view it positively (up 11 points), and 41 per cent negatively (down nine points). In Indonesia, public opinion leans negative, but positive views rose eight points (33%). Negative views strongly increased in Japan (38%, up 16 points) and in the Philippines (52%, up 10 points).

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Iran continues to be the most negatively viewed of all countries rated. An average of 59 per cent in the 25 tracking countries have an unfavourable opinion of Iran’s influence, while just 16 per cent have a favourable opinion. Compared to 2010, this represents a three-point increase in negative ratings, while positive views remained largely unchanged. In 2011, respondents in 25 countries lean negative, while only one leans positive (Pakistan), and one is divided (India).

Unfavourable ratings increased in the following countries: the United Kingdom (79%, up 20 points), Canada (79%, up 19 points), the US (87%, up 18 points and the highest percentage in the survey), Australia (77%, up 15 points), the Philippines (79%, up 15 points), and Portugal (73%, up 6 points). In Nigeria, positive views have fallen six points (22%), and negative views have risen by the same margin (48%). In Europe, Germany, Italy (both 85%) and France (82%) have the most negative perceptions towards Iran.

However, negative views have softened considerably among survey countries bordering Iran. Turkey saw the most dramatic change: while views remained negative overall, favourable attitudes have increased by 23 points (36%), and unfavourable attitudes have decreased by nine points (45%, down from 54%). India shifted from leaning negative to being divided, as favourable attitudes rose eight points (27%) and negative views somewhat decreased (28%, down five points). Pakistan’s positive leaning has been reinforced as favourable attitudes have increased by eight points (41%).

Brazil and Chile have remained consistently negative in their perceptions of Iran. In Mexico, opinion shifted slightly from being divided in 2010 (24% positive vs 23% negative) to leaning somewhat negative this year (20% positive vs 25% negative).

Negative views softened a little in Japan, as the percentage giving an unfavourable evaluation dropped by six points (51%, down from 57%). Positive views stayed stable, but only four per cent of Japanese view Iran’s influence positively. Chinese ratings of Iran remained negative overall, with positive views were up eight points (38%), and negative views down by the same amount (48%).

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Global attitudes towards Brazil became sharply more positive over the past year. On average, in the 24 countries surveyed in 2010 and 2011, positive ratings surged from 40 to 49 per cent, making Brazil the nation whose reputation has enjoyed the most improvement this year. Just one in five (20%) sees Brazil as having a negative influence (down three points). Of the 27 countries surveyed in 2011, 25 lean positive and two are divided–Germany and China. Brazil’s image also seems to have gained greater clarity in the mind of people around the world. The number of respondents not providing an answer either way declined six points from last year among the tracking countries.

Positive views have increased by remarkably large numbers in several countries. Among Nigerians, favourable ratings have risen by 22 points (60%). Among Turks, favourable ratings are up 29 points (48%). Among South Koreans, they have increased by 17 points (68%) and by 19 points among Egyptians (37%) where the opinion has gone from negative to positive since 2010.

In Europe, views became warmer within almost every EU country. In Portugal and Italy, positive ratings have increased by 15 points (76% and 55%, respectively). In Spain, positive ratings are up eight points (47%). In France, six in ten now rate Brazil’s influence in the world favourably, compared to five in ten in 2010. However, the public in the United Kingdom is more mixed in its views, as both positive and negative opinions increased (47%, up 12 points for positive; 33%, up 13 points for negative). Germany also bucked the trend, continuing to be divided in its opinion, with a significant increase in the number not providing an answer either way.

In Mexico, positive ratings have risen by six points (65%, up from 59%). Other Latin American countries show very favourable views towards Brazil overall, with 63 per cent of Peruvians and 70 per cent of Chileans giving positive ratings. However, favourable perceptions have softened a little in Chile following a seven-point decrease in positive views combined with a six-point rise in negative views.

Views have shifted positively in South Asia, though large numbers still do not have a clear opinion about Brazil. Favourable views increased nine points in India (29%), where opinion shifted from being divided to leaning positive. Positive ratings in Pakistan are up by eight points (21%), moving from somewhat negative to leaning positive.

Other countries where favourable opinion has grown stronger are Australia (50%, up from 32%), the US (60%, up from 42%), Canada (53%, up from 38%), and Indonesia (50%, up from 42%). In the Philippines, positive views increased by 13 points (60%) but negative views also rose at the same time (32%, up 7 points).

The major outlier in the positive trend is China, where a previously positive leaning shifted to being divided. Positive views are down ten points (45%), while negative views are up a remarkable 29 points (41%).

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Germany is seen as having the most positive influence in the world among all countries evaluated. This has been the case since tracking began in Germany in 2008. Globally and in the 24 countries surveyed both in 2010 and 2011, 62 per cent of people rated Germany positively, which represents a three-point increase since last year. However, negative views–while still at very low levels–rose two points (15%). Out of 27 countries polled in 2011, 26 lean positive and one is divided (Pakistan).

Positive views have strengthened across various regions. Notable increases are found in the Anglo-Saxon countries, where ratings were already largely favourable. In the United Kingdom, positive views rose 14 points to 77 per cent. In Australia, 77 per cent say Germany has a positive influence in the world (up 12 points). In the US, 76 per cent (up 11 points) say this, while 69 per cent (up 5 points) say this in Canada.

In Europe, Italian and French views are even warmer than British ones. Almost nine in ten Italians (89%) give Germany positive ratings (up 12 points, the highest percentage among all countries surveyed). Positive ratings are 84 per cent in France. Russian views have improved, and close to seven in ten rate Germany positively (68%, up seven points). Nearby, Turkish opinion shifted favourably to lean positive in 2011 (53%, up 23 points) after being divided in 2010 (30% vs 33%).

All African countries surveyed lean positive towards Germany, with particularly strong majorities in Nigeria (73%, up 12 points) and Ghana (70, up 5 points). A near majority of South Africans hold positive views of Germany’s influence (49%). However, Kenyan views cooled slightly since 2010, with a 17-point drop in positive ratings, leaving a comfortable but reduced majority of 58 per cent with positive views. Positive ratings increased in India (37%, up 15 points), Indonesia (65%, up 10 points), and Pakistan (22%, up 9 points), where overall views shifted from somewhat negative to divided.

Views have cooled down in a few other countries. In Latin America, positive views declined in Brazil–although there remains strong majority of Brazilians favourable to Germany’s influence (64%, down 6 points). The cooling in Chile’s perceptions is more significant, with a 12-point decline in positive views (54%) combined with an eight-point increase in negative ratings (19%). Negative ratings also increased in Mexico (27%, up 10 points), while positive views remained stable at 45 per cent. Largely favourable to Germany in 2010, Chinese views deteriorated sharply this year, with a 12-point decline in positive views (50%) and a 24-point rise of negative ratings (39%).

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South Korea

In the second year it was measured, world opinion about South Korea improved a little. In the 24-country tracking average, the proportion of people having favourable views of South Korea’s influence went up four points to 36 per cent, while the proportion rating it negatively remained stable at 32 per cent. Twelve countries hold positive views, seven hold negative views, and eight are divided.

Views in North America are positive and improving. A majority of Americans now sees South Korea’s influence favourably (53%, up 7 points), and a plurality of Canadians thinks the same way (46%, up 9 points).

In the Asian-Pacific region, perceptions of South Korea improved in Australia (50%, up 15 points) and Indonesia (51%, up 8 points). A majority of Filipinos leans positive as well (56%), but negative ratings increased more than did positive: 15 per cent and six per cent, respectively. In China, dramatic shifts in positive (36%, down 21 points) and negative views (50%, up 30 points) made the country lean negative after being positive in 2010. Pakistan and India are divided in their opinions, and both countries have less than one in five people favourable to South Korea (19%).

Views in Africa are improving, but different countries offer differing views. In Nigeria, opinion shifted from negative in 2010 (31% vs 37%) to positive in 2011 (42% vs 27%). Ghana’s views became warmer as the proportion of Ghanaians rating South Korea negatively declined eight points (11%) and positive ratings remained stable near 43 per cent. Strongly negative in 2010, Egyptian ratings improved this year, with the proportion offering negative views dropping nine points while positive views climbed ten, leaving Egypt leaning only slightly negative (23% vs 28%). The South African public is divided on this question (24% vs 27%).

In the European area, Turkey is the only country with a plurality of positive views. Turkish opinion has shifted from negative to positive since 2010, with a 29-point increase in positive ratings. Spain, Italy, and France remain negative, although positive views have increased in each of these countries. Russia, Portugal, and the United Kingdom offer divided views. Germany is strongly negative (19% vs 51%), with positive views declining since 2010 (down nine points).

In Latin America, Chile and Peru have positive views of South Korea, although a significant drop was observed in Chile’s positive ratings (37%, down 8 points). In Mexico, opinion has shifted since 2010, and more Mexicans lean negative (37%, up 14 points) than positive (24%, down 16 points). Brazilians shifted this year from leaning somewhat negative to being divided (39% vs 38%).


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