As terror incidents cause tourism to cool off in Turkey and social media spreads images of US police shootings, a country’s reputation has perhaps never been so easily made and broken.
That is the warning from a study which ranks how 70 nations around the world are viewed in the eyes of its ever-observant international audience. Sweden took the crown from last year’s winner Australia, and Canada won second place under current prime minister Justin Trudeau.
“Countries’ reputations take a long time to build but can drop in an instant,” said the 2016 Most Reputable Countries report by the Reputation Institute, which surveyed the views of 48,000 people.
While Sweden’s high standard of living and generous parental leave has won it international recognition, many countries have seen significant dips in how they are regarded abroad.
Terror attacks in Turkey alongside a media crackdown, criticism of President Erdogan’s treatment of Kurds, and the neighbouring war in Syria may have caused the country to fall the most out of all 70 countries on the list.
The home of East and West, as Turkey is sometimes called, lost seven points on its 2015 ranking. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns of a “volatile” security situation following an attempted coup to overthrow the Turkish government.
Next to lose international kudos was Saudi Arabia, whose bombing campaign in Yemen and media representation as repressive for women could have contributed to a fall of 4.7 points since 2015.
It was closely followed by Belgium, in a year that saw Eurosceptic resentment of Brussels rise across the continent, and then Greece, which continues to struggle to repay its debts, as well as a drop of 1.4 points for the economically strong and usually socially progressive Germany. Angela Merkel has lost some popularity at home since the Köln and other attacks on civilians.
The UK did not make the top 10 but remained in 13th place as last year. The world’s most powerful economy, the US, was poorly regarded by judges and left trailing in 28th position. It has at least become more internationally popular since the Obama administration came into power.
Even with the invasion of the Crimea less in the media spotlight, Russia was placed near the very bottom of the ranking. It rubbed shoulders with some of the most conflict-stricken countries on the planet: Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Algeria and Iran. Vladimir Putin has pursued a policy of supporting Bashar al Assad in Syria and has been criticised for abuse of LGBT rights at home.
Here is the entire list:
7. New Zealnd
13. United Kingdom
21. Czech Republic
22. Costa Rica
28. United States
30. Dominican Republic
33. Puerto Rico
45. South Korea
46. United Arab Emirates
49. South Africa
54. El Salvador
67. Saudi Arabia
Civilians in the eight most industrially advanced nations in the world – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US – ranked the 70 nations across 16 factors including an appealing environment, being safe to visit, socially progressive policies, an effective government, an advanced economy and friendly citizens.
Given there are about 195 countries in the world, the list is by no means exhaustive. For instance, neither Syria – half of whose population has been killed or fled in the past five years – nor Iceland – which regularly ranks as one of the happiest and most socially progressive in the world – were assessed.