Every year the Reputation Institute releases a ranking of countries according to how they are perceived abroad. They measure each nation in three broad dimensions – advanced economy, appealing environment, and effective government. The economy deals with how people perceive products, brands, and technology from that country. Is the workforce reliable? Are products good quality? The environment deals with everything from the friendliness of the people to how beautiful the country is. And finally the government dimension rates how safe people would feel there, what their perceptions of social and economic policies are, how ethical the country is, and so forth. We’ll let the index do the talking though, as these are the 25 most respected countries in the world.
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Although it is only recognized as a nation by 22 other countries (primarily due to political reasons involving mainland China), unlike its larger half Taiwan is seen as having high press freedom, economic freedom, and human development.
As the first former Eastern block state to become a developed economy, this current EU country has led the way. Today its economy and political systems are seen as a model for other nations that are trying to make the shift.
Although the Czech Republic has been made famous for the Prague Spring, it was Poland that ushered in Europe’s first post-communist government. Since then it has made great strides. In 2009 when the rest of Europe was having economic difficulties, Poland was the only country experiencing growth.
So lets get the negatives out of the way. Although the United States’ reputation abroad was slightly improved under the Obama administration, due to continued wars, spying, and a general sense of overreach/imperialism, the United States has managed to isolate even some of its allies. Furthermore, it has a reputation for violence, lack of safety, poor healthcare coverage, and massive inequality. With that said, the United States is still seen as the “melting pot” and “land of opportunity”. So, although there are 21 countries that are seen as more “respectable”, the US still has a lot going for it. And given the amount of immigration, the world seems to have cast its vote with its feet.
Popular as a tourist destination, Thailand is one of a few Asian countries on our list. It tended to score high in the appealing environment category (natural beauty, friendliness, etc)
The Asian Tiger is seen as having a strong economy, effective government, and very low corruption.
Due to the economic crisis and constraint policies, France was one of the European nations whose reputation fell slightly.
With some indicators starting to improve, southern European countries like Portugal have seen their reputations rise as well.
Spain is the first country on our list whose own citizens have a lower view of their nation than foreigners. Most countries (especially Russia, China, and India) had extremely inflated views of themselves relative to the rest of the world.
The most respected Asian country on our list, Japan scored highest in the advanced economy dimension (technology, high quality products, well known brands).
Tying with Japan at 69 points, Germany’s reputation suffered some setbacks along with France due to the recent pressures on the European Union and the financial situation with Greece.
Although it fared poorly in governance and business environment, it did extremely well in almost every other category – lifestyle, natural beauty, friendliness, culture, popular brands, etc. Furthermore, Italians seem to be the most humble as they rated their country significantly lower than did the rest of the world.
The UK fared slightly above average on all indicators but the one area where it broke the top 10 was education. Behind, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and the Nordic countries people rated the UK as being their top place to study.
Famous for its pristine beauty, strong economy, effective government, and good infrastructure, Austria is the first of the “enviable” countries on our list. These countries are the developed economies known for their systems that just work. Low corruption, good education, efficient healthcare, high quality of life, and effective safety nets characterize their societies.
Ireland’s reputation has shot up once again after economic indicators began to improve. It has always scored well in terms of appealing environment and effective government.
Scoring high in safety, ethics, responsible government, efficiency, and progressive policies, the capital of the European Union is known for more than just its tasty waffles.
The Netherlands is the first country on our list to score in the top 10 in all 3 categories (appealing environment, advanced economy, effective government).
The first of several Nordic countries on our list, it comes as no surprise that Denmark is seen as one of the best places to live, work, and study.
Thanks to extreme natural beauty, a strong economy, and a very efficient social infrastructure, New Zealand is seen by many as a very desirable place to live and work, if only it were closer.
Another Nordic country, Finland performs exceedingly well in all three major categories. Perhaps the only downside for most people is the cold.
Of all the countries on the list, Australia had by far the highest internal reputation (the way its own citizens and residents see the nation). It was followed by Canada, Russia, India, Germany, and the United States. And although the world didn’t see Australia quite as rosily as Australians did, they still voted it into the number 5 spot, which is pretty darned good.
Scoring extremely high in almost every category, along with Australia, Sweden, and Canada, Switzerland is always in the top 4.
Not surprisingly, Sweden ranked at the top of nearly every dimension, but it was especially well regarded for the quality of its institutions.
There are few things that Norway does poorly. Like Sweden, it ranked exceedingly well across the board.
Apparently Canada’s high self-image is warranted (second only to Australia), because the world agrees. Canada’s appealing environment, effective government, and advanced economy make it the country with the highest perceived quality of life.