The U.S. Just Got Knocked Off The Number One Spot for National Image

The United States was the only country in the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, a Germany survey, to experience a decline in perception

Obama's Eight Years of Travel
Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

America's loss is Germany's gain.

The biggest country in Western Europe has the best national image in the world, reclaiming the top spot from the United States – at least according to a German survey of "national brands."

The United States was the only country in the survey that experienced an overall decline in international perception between 2016 and 2017, according to the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index.

The survey, which is based on interviews with 185 adults in 20 countries, found that perceptions of Germany rose from second place in 2016 – with improvements in the culture, governance, and people categories. The country ranks in the top five of the 50 nations on the index in every category except one – tourism.

The United States, meanwhile, had the most dramatic drop among the top 10 countries, falling from first in 2016 to sixth this year. While it still ranks in the top five in culture (2nd), exports (2nd), and immigration investment (5th), the score for governance fell from 19th to 23rd place.

According to Simon Anholt, a policy adviser and professor who created the Nation Brands Index in 2005, the drop-off is likely explained by last year's presidential election.

“The USA’s fall in the ‘Governance’ category suggests that we are witnessing a ‘Trump effect’, following President Trump’s focused political message of ‘America First,'" Anholt said in a statement. "However, Americans’ assessment of their own country is notably more positive this year than last. A similar fall in global perception of the USA was seen following the re-election of George W. Bush, when the USA fell to seventh place."

France and Japan made significant improvements to their global perceptions. France came in second, up from fifth in 2016, while Japan broke into the top five tied in fourth with Canada after ranking seventh last year.

Rounding out the top 10 was, the U.K., Italy, Switzerland, Australia and Sweden.

The Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index data is weighted to account for demographics including age, gender, eduction, and race/ethnicity was used for sample balancing in the U.S., U.K., South Africa, India and Brazil.

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