Germany is most popular country in the world: report

Munich, Germany

Germany has knocked the US off its perch in a new ranking that could be described as an international popularity contest.

After holding steady to the top spot in the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index for the past five years, the US has been sidelined by Germany, which has been named the most popular country among 50 developed and developing nations.

For the report, researchers conducted 20,125 online interviews across 20 countries on overall topics like culture, people, tourism, exports, governance, immigration and investment.

The study measures global perceptions of each country.

While the US maintained top scores in areas like creativity, contemporary culture and educational institutions, respondents penalized the country for its role in global peace and security, placing it 19th out of 50 in this category.

Germany, on the other hand, achieved the largest overall score on the index in part for its “sports prowess,” said policy advisor Simon Anholt.

“Germany appears to have benefited not only from the sports prowess it displayed on the world stage at the FIFA World Cup championship, but also by solidifying its perceived leadership in Europe through a robust economy and steady political stewardship,” he said in a statement.

The also country scored high in areas of honest and competent government, investment climate, and social equality.

Rounding out the top five spots are the UK, France and Canada.

Authors note that after years of steadily climbing the ranks, Russia experienced a major setback for the 2014 edition, mostly for its perceived role in international peace and security -- the most drastic score drop for any single attribute across the board.

“International diplomacy clearly reaches beyond the realm of public opinion. However, policy makers need to be keenly aware that the way in which a country is perceived globally can make a critical difference to the success of its business, trade and tourism efforts, as well as its diplomatic and cultural relations with other nations,” said senior vice-president and report director Xiaoyan Zhao.

“As our partner Simon Anholt often says, the only superpower left in today’s world is global public opinion.”

Here’s how the countries stacked up:

1. Germany
2. USA
3. UK
4. France
5. Canada
6. Japan
7. Italy
8. Switzerland
9. Australia
10. Sweden