December 30, 2013

Which countries Americans like … and don’t

FT_Like_Don'tThe trend among the U.S. public increasingly has been to turn away from international issues and focus on the home front. But while Americans have long been accused of lacking interest in the rest of the world, they have never lacked strong opinions about other countries.

As 2013 wanes, a Pew Research Center survey conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 6 found that Americans have strongly favorable views of some allies and negative opinions about a range of others. Some of this is driven by U.S. partisan politics. And history suggests all such opinions are subject to change.

Topping Americans’ most favored nations list are Canada (81%) and Great Britain (79%), long-time allies. Notably, they also see commercial competitor Japan (70%) in a positive light.

Nations seen unfavorably by Americans include:

  • Oil-rich Saudi Arabia (57% unfavorable), which has recently been at odds with the U.S. over its policies in the Middle East, particularly when it comes to Syria.
  • China (55% unfavorable), an economic and geopolitical competitor which the publics of many nations see replacing the U.S. as the world’s superpower.
  • Former Cold War adversary Russia (54% unfavorable), a country whose relations with the U.S. have been frosty, particularly after it granted temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, who leaked documents about NSA surveillance.
  • Neighbor Mexico (52% unfavorable).

Brazil, an emerging economic power, is seen favorably by 60% although a quarter of the public had no opinion. Americans appear most divided about India, with 46% having a favorable view and 33% an unfavorable opinion.

While the American public has an unfavorable view of Russia and China, there is no evidence that the public sees those countries as a cause for alarm: only 23% see China as an adversary and only 18% regard Russia as one.

American views about some countries have a decidedly partisan flavor. More Republicans than Democrats have a favorable impression of Israel (74% of Republicans vs. 55% of Democrats). Tea Party Republicans have especially positive views of Israel: 86% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party view Israel favorably, compared with 68% of Republicans and GOP leaners who do not agree with the Tea Party.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to view China, Mexico and France favorably. Roughly a third of Democrats (36%) have a favorable opinion of China compared with 23% of Republicans. The partisan gap is about as large in opinions of Mexico (Democrats are 14 points more favorable) and France (17 points more favorable).  There are no significant partisan differences in views of Great Britain, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

However strongly Americans may feel about other countries, either pro or con, their views can also change dramatically over time. Just 29% of Americans had a favorable opinion of France in 2003, at the height of disagreement between Washington and Paris over the Iraq war; now 59% see France positively. Just 29% of Americans saw China unfavorably in 2006; now 55% do.

Topics: China, Foreign Affairs and Policy, Foreign News, Mexico

  1. Photo of Bruce Stokes

    is Director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project.

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58 Comments

  1. Kevin3 days ago

    Great Britain isn’t a nation, it’s an island.
    It should read “The United Kingdom”. I’ll excuse you, because you’re American.

    Reply
  2. José Brazil2 months ago

    Everybody loves Canada.

    Reply
  3. Alex3 months ago

    Indians love America and Americans, Muslim are minorities constituting about 18-20% of India’s population may have such negative opinions and are taught to develop such opinion in their religious centers and just these data sample can never accurate..

    Reply
  4. Leandro6 months ago

    I’m really happy to know that a lot of americans like to visit Brazil. I’m from the south of Brazil, nearby Argentina, on the border. I have some americans friends at the church. They’re usually have dinner in my home and play games with us, taught me to speak and write in english. I only could say that I definitely love your country and american people.

    Reply
  5. Ryan8 months ago

    So what?

    Reply
  6. Rob Hoey8 months ago

    I’m surprised Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan weren’t in the research. Of course, there are plenty of Middle East and African nations that might have also been included.

    Reply
  7. Michael8 months ago

    Data should show the swings over time.

    Reply
  8. Packard Day8 months ago

    Curiously, Saudi Arabia was the only Islamic centric country on the list. Perhaps Americans were simply just indifferent to the likes of the 1.2 billion citizens living in and running countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordon, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Indonesia, etc., etc., etc. Perhaps…

    Res ipsa loquitur

    Reply
  9. Kevin8 months ago

    Comparing with lives of people, it is not necessary.

    Reply
  10. RD Bhatia8 months ago

    It is a political issue-But one thing is there that these days Water-Air has been polluted. The cost living has gone very high. Without some or other medicine, it is difficult to live. Mental peace has gone. Only worries & wories are there.-thanks

    Reply
  11. Scott9 months ago

    Interesting that the US fought two major wars against Germany in the last 100 years yet they rate higher than our ally, France, who fought with us against German domination. Maybe this is because Germany can be counted on to go in the direction we want while we perceive France as its own country. Excepting, of course, that Germany isn’t expected to provide military assistance, since due to the wars we have exempted them.

    Reply
    1. Fel8 months ago

      maybe u go back and educate yourself on recent history…Germany and France were labelled axis of evil whence decided not to follow the US suit in some recent military disasters. Furthermore, German is the second biggest ancestral base for americans.

      Needless to state that Germany also voiced the loudest distastes about NSA’s latest breaches of trust and industrial espionage…
      I travel frequently to Europe and, contraire to US polls, the Europeans see the US rather not as a trustworthy and fav. nation….how comes?

      Btw ask the average Murican where eg Italy France or Iraq is….

      Reply
  12. bernadette wilkin9 months ago

    the americans must be careful to whom they vet as it could have a swing affect and surprise americans as to how much they are disliked though not by myself as a anglo saxon irish desent they are my kin

    Reply
  13. Leslie9 months ago

    Would be interesting to see where these Americans have lived or traveled abroad with the list of those countries they favored, those not.

    Just a guess, but most Americans have never set foot outside the United States. A built in bias would seem to exist when talking about something never experienced first-hand. Used to be called ‘gossip.’

    And basing an opinion on foreign visitors (tourists, students, residents) here would seem as unreliable – they came here for a reason. Representative of their home country? “They must all be like that…” I doubt it.

    Reply
  14. Joe9 months ago

    It’s sad to see that Mexico is seen so unfavorable even now that less people to migrate and many more have come back.
    During the George W. Bush administration the U.S. was perceived as evil in Mexico, when Barack Obama came to office that perception changed completely, now many Mexicans see the U.S. as a good friend and actually criticized former president Calderon for willing to approach more to peer countries in the region like Panama and Chile, than to the U.S. therefore it’s surprising that American do contrariwise.

    Reply
  15. Johnny9 months ago

    Americans do like to hate….

    Reply
    1. Matt Schoewe8 months ago

      That’s because the world deserves it.

      Reply
  16. Larry9 months ago

    I’ve visited all those countries save India. I can’t say I dislike any of them very much, but I do know that Saudi is behind much of the problems here and in the Middle East. The Brits formed most of the boundaries we see know over there and all were to contain the Saudis. Nobody paid much attention to them when oil was $1.80/bbl.

    Reply
  17. john9 months ago

    Oh so Americans love the yUKs. Guess they forgot about the War of Independence, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, all of which had the yUKs against US. I do admit it is nice having the yUKs around to carry our bags and be our servants around the world. Why not ask the rest of the world what they think of the yUKs?

    Reply
    1. Jon Martin7 months ago

      What a stupid comment. Britain since the War of Independence has been our most loyal ally. When we were at war with them in the 1700s it was like a civil war. Do you not forgive the South if you were from the North for our Civil War and vice versa.

      Reply
  18. Jim Buckley9 months ago

    I would like to see if Cuba’s favorability has changed in the last decade.

    Reply
  19. Joyce Newton9 months ago

    So where is Australia?

    Australia has a very close alliance with the US and has supported them in many conflicts where other countries would not.

    Reply
  20. Linda9 months ago

    No Greece? No Italy? So many people love denigrating those countries for their fiscal policies.

    Reply
    1. BESTMAN9 months ago

      what is your point? Do you want to have a chance to denigrate Greece and Italy? Are you one of the lovers of Britain, the country that sided with the South in the Civil War and which tried to screw the US on various occasions. Americans have a short memory (or perhaps no memory). France supported the US against Britain in our War of Independence AND in the Civil War. Problem is we do not teach history in our schools.

      Reply
      1. William Stern9 months ago

        “France supported the US against Britain in our War of Independence AND in the Civil War.”–BESTMAN

        Yes, and the US supported Iraq in their war against Iran during the ’80s. We supported Russia against Nazi Germany and China against Japan during WWII.

        The French supported the colonists in their rebellion because it caused problems for their ememies across the Channel, not because they believed in American Independence.

        Reply
        1. Jon Martin7 months ago

          Thank you for correcting BESTMAN, he should really be going back to History class.

          Reply
  21. LeLando9 months ago

    From a regional aspect, I have first hand experience regarding the lumber, particularly softwood, controversy. I was a practicing forester in Connecticut and saw millions of board feet of timber cross over the border to be returned as sawn lumber. It was a definite hardship on the New England sawmills and was blamed upon subsidization of the Canadian sawmill industry by their government. The US mills couldn’t compete with that and there was definitely hard feelings about it. On the other hand, the Canadian market for stumpage (standing timber) was a boon for timber growers.

    Reply
  22. Robert Lindsay9 months ago

    Countries I like , dislike very similar. Counties I would like living in after the good old USA are Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Pacific Islands, more southern than northern , Switzerland ,and Austria.

    Reply
  23. Vicki Decker9 months ago

    Thanks to all for a very thoughtful civilized discussion with actual specific information. Pleasure to read all the posts.

    Reply
  24. Jeffrey Dvorkin9 months ago

    Interestingly enough, French speaking Canadians traditionally have a more positive view of the US than do English Canadians. Did your survey ask the question en français? The level of pro-American sentiment in Canada might also be attributed to the Conservative government in Ottawa. It has been slowly moving the country to reflect a more American approach to the economy, the military, etc. It was a Liberal government that refused to join in with the US in the invasion of Iraq. Had the Tories been in power, my guess is that there would have been Canadian boots on the ground as there has been in Afghanistan. But after seven years in office, the Harper government is experiencing a decline in support and the pendulum is shifting back to a more liberal (and traditionally Canadian) view of politics.

    Reply
  25. Beauchard9 months ago

    There is no reason to doubt the results of this survey. Pew used the same method as was used for all earlier surveys.
    What interests me is the difference between some of these results and what one would expect from reading comments on the internet.
    Pew sees a link between the 54% unfavorable view of Russia and the granting of “temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, who leaked documents about NSA surveillance.” Well, just Google Snowden and you will find an avalanche of American support for him. The opposite is the case for Israel. According to the Pew results 61% support Israel, while most internet comments are anti-Israel.
    It appears that posters on the internet have more leisure time than the majority of Americans.
    This leads me to a suggestion for a new survey. What percentage of people who comment on the Internet are retired, unemployed, studying or institutionalized?

    Reply
  26. frank9 months ago

    Most americans will be surprised if this survey were made outside the US. What coutries like the US?. I do, but I doubt there’s any.. Even the UK or Canada. I know most Americans don’t care, but I would be wondering why.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Drake9 months ago

      You can see what people in other countries think of the U.S. by using our interactive map: pewglobal.org/database

      Reply
    2. Robert Lindsay9 months ago

      I care.” The Ugly American ” still exist, and Marlon Brando played the part well in the movie. I do think we are not as ugly as we may have been.

      Reply
  27. Gene in+L.A.9 months ago

    With all the wondering about the US perception of Canada, I can’t help wondering why there’s so much anti-Mexico sentiment. I have my own suspicion, but I won’t say what I think it is, lest this devolve into name-calling.

    Reply
  28. Joe Bazilio9 months ago

    I don´t care what americans think about us. The “king” will fall…

    Reply
    1. Gene in L.A.9 months ago

      What king?

      Reply
      1. Richard9 months ago

        LET’S HOPE HE MEANS THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING1 BARRACK HUSSEIN OBAMA!

        Reply
        1. William Stern9 months ago

          Nonono, that was Bush II.

          Reply
      2. LeLando9 months ago

        I suspect he’s alluding to our president.

        Reply
    2. Anthony Newman9 months ago

      It is obvious that you care. You cared enough to read the article and to comment on it. Apparently, you care a lot.

      Reply
  29. TheAcademic9 months ago

    Canadian anti-Americanism is insidious. If more Americans actually knew something about Canada beyond the (false) stereotypes of being polite and friendly the favorability rating would plunge. In truth, Canada is one of the most anti-American countries there are.

    Reply
    1. Nat Stone9 months ago

      Academic,

      Have a look at the Pew study to which Kochevnik refers to below : pewglobal.org/2013/07/18/chapter…

      Anti-Americanism was rife about ten years ago, in the wake of the Iraq war, but my own experience and the survey above suggests that a lot of this has subsided.

      Reply
    2. Mike Palfery9 months ago

      That is utter nonsense…Canadian/US relations have a long and rich history….any indication of anti-Americanism is usually just petulance from a sibling who sometimes feels ignored. My parents were born on both sides of the border….This is very common. Never underestimate the strength of the relationship. Although Canadians have a very difficult time understanding the US far right. It’s like the Civil War never ended

      Reply
  30. Nat Stone9 months ago

    Can someone explain to me (Canadian of Connecticut Loyalist descent) why 9 percent have an unfavourable view of Canada: cross-border shopping? Softwood lumber? Our health care system? Let me know please.

    Reply
    1. Stacey C.9 months ago

      It’s probably all the gay marriage ;)

      Reply
    2. K Maxwell9 months ago

      Nat – as a Canadian who lived in the US for 12 years (4 locations), I suggest there are a number of factors. There is a lingering, subsurface resentment that Canada never saw the light and became part of the US; Canadians denied them their full Manifest Destiny. There is also the notion that Canada is too liberal, too socialist and too statist from the right fringe. Some are still resentful that Canada publicly and vociferously rejected their invitation to invade Iraq in 2003. There is also a faction on the left that see Canada as an environmental laggard over oilsands and GHG emissions. I wonder how many Canadians see the US as positive?

      Reply
      1. Nat Stone9 months ago

        Thanks, K Maxwell,

        That Manifest Destiny business has always been a heavy cross for us Canadians to bear.

        Reply
        1. K Maxwell9 months ago

          Yea – we kinda like it that way.

          Reply
    3. Allen9 months ago

      I wonder what the numbers are in reverse, eh? I’ll bet a lot more Canadians than 9 percent have an unfavorable view of the US…can someone explain why?

      Reply
      1. Kochevnik9 months ago

        Pew actually has the answers to the favorability ratings of the US in Canada here: pewglobal.org/2013/07/18/chapter…

        64% of Canadians have a favorable view of the US, and 30% have an unfavorable view (it’s about the same as the UK).

        There’s probably a number of reasons for it, ranging from history, being smaller in population and feeling threatened by “Americanization”, social differences (in healthcare, for example), and political differences.

        Reply
        1. Nat Stone9 months ago

          Thanks, Kochevnik

          Reply
        2. K Maxwell9 months ago

          US behaviour in foreign relations (diplomacy, trade, security) is also a factor in this area. Canadians were very much against US military action against Iraq and the subsequent failure to find any weapons of mass destruction – the Bush’s stated reason for invading – reinforced the negative reaction. That still lingers. Canadians also have a strong perception that the US cheats and is disingenuous when it comes to enforcing NAFTA disputes (softwood was a good example). In other words, many Canadians consider the US to be a bit of a bully on the international scene, and bullying in its behaviour toward Canada. I suspect the negative perception of the US is unlikely to get below 30%.

          Reply
          1. Beauchard9 months ago

            I am not a citizen of the US or Canada. As such, your conclusions confuse me Mr. Maxwell. 64% of Canadians have a favorable view of the US, and 30% have an unfavorable view.
            You maintain that these percentages are the result of the opposition of “Canadians” to American foreign policy. If anything, the percentages suggest that the majority of Canadians support American foreign policy. I get the impression that you do not support American foreign policy. However, these percentages imply that the majority of Canadians do not agree with you.

    4. Thomas R9 months ago

      Well 9% is really pretty small. A certain percent of Americans will likely have an unfavorable view of any country that isn’t the US.

      Still America has had some negative stereotypes of Canadians at times. When I was younger it was more that Canada was beer-drinking idiots who obsessed on Hockey. Now it’s flipped to almost the opposite. That Canadians are a land of superior-acting Leftists and intellectuals who look down on us as unsophisticated or backward people.

      But I don’t know. I think Canada’s image as snooty Leftist is hopefully declining. You guys have a more conservative leader than we do and Rob Ford is certainly not projecting a snooty sophisticated image of Canada. We might be veering back to Canada as a land of polite and overweight drunks. (The crack thing is new. In the US crack is seen as, to quote Whitney Houston, a “wack” thing people with money don’t do) For good or ill.

      Reply
      1. Nat Stone9 months ago

        Thomas R,

        I’m interested in your comment: “That Canadians are a land of superior-acting Leftists and intellectuals who look down on us as unsophisticated or backward people.” I understanding what you’re talking about but I cannot conceive that those people are anything but a small minority. These people got a lot of coverage during the debate over the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and the NAFTA (both of which they opposed) and they were known to make insensitive and unfair generalizations about Americans. But that was quite a while ago.

        Reply
        1. Fred Harwell9 months ago

          I worked at a Chemical Plant near Houston, Texas in the ’70s- through 2000s. One of our Lab Techs was a Canadian. I made the mistake of innocently stating to him in conversation “I wish, when the countries were forming up, that the US and Canada had become one Country.” I promise you that is all I said. I did not imply who would be in charge.

          The guy stood up as if getting ready to fight me and gave about a 5 minute speech critiquing The US, US policies, US Citizens, the children of US Citizens and the future descendants of those Children of US Citizens. I am not exaggerating one bit. The guy was so incensed he almost spit in my face.

          I looked him in the eyes and said “You’re welcome.” He sneared, “For what?” I replied, ” Why for me including you inside the protective circle of our United States DEW line…”. That conversation happened, as stated, in the ’70s and I never spoke to him again about anything but sample results
          ( business).

          I will admit that when a person tells me they are from Canada, my mind goes back to that guy and they start at -25% with me with the option to be reinstated to the full 100% if that person’s actions warrant reinstatement.

          Reply
          1. Eunice Marriott9 months ago

            By the same token, what country accepted all the airplanes headed for the States on 9/11 ?
            We get tired of United States citizens telling us Canadians that we should be one country. Why do you think that there is the longest undefended border in the world ? Because we don`t want to join the United “States.
            I like the people of the United States on an individual basis but prefer our country .
            An open minded Canadian. Also an American as are the Mexicans .