How Americans view foreign countries (Data: Gallup)

Gallup has released a new poll of American attitudes toward 22 foreign countries. The results are not shocking, exactly, but offer some interesting insights into U.S. public opinion toward the world.

Pollsters asked respondents whether they had favorable or unfavorable opinions of certain countries. I've mapped out the favorable ratings above to give an at-a-glimpse sense of the results.

The most popular countries by far are Canada and Britain with 91 and 88 percent favorable, respectively, which is no surprise given the shared Anglosphere popular culture and heritage. Presumably, Australia and New Zealand might also score highly.

The next two highest-rated are Germany and Japan; Gallup suggests the affinity may come from the shared political and economic systems. Given that there are far more ethnic German-Americans than Japanese-Americans, the two are probably not analogous. Still, the popular American perception of both as successful and entrepreneurial societies probably helps, as does the popular association of German and Japanese exports with quality or luxury.

The next three countries are allies with some complications: France, India, and the least popular country to score above 50 percent favorability, Israel.

China, Russia, and Mexico all break about even favorable-unfavorable in the poll. Given that they are three countries that Americans hear about quite frequently, sometimes in sympathetic terms and sometimes as part of worrying stories on topics, such as hacking or drug murders, it's unsurprising that they tend to draw more complicated reactions.

Rounding out the Axis of Meh, a collection of slightly unfavored countries, are the dubious allies and the less-than-threatening enemies. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Cuba all fall within the 33 to 40 percent favorable window.

The rest of the greater Middle East fares pretty poorly in American views. Iraq and Libya, despite their respective political transitions that have brought them closer to the United States (in Libya's case, much closer), are still viewed very negatively. Maybe that's a hangover from years of (deservedly) bad publicity in the United States or maybe it's about more recent events. I admit I was surprised to see the Palestinian Authority at 15 percent, right alongside Pakistan and Syria.

Iran and North Korea, of course, round out the bottom of the list, with the former performing the absolute worst with only 9 percent approval. You have to wonder: who are the 3 percent of respondents who disapprove of Iran but said they hold a "favorable" view of North Korea?

It's interesting to compare the results with a map I put together last year on Pew's study of how foreign countries view the U.S. Here's the map:


How foreign countries view the U.S. (Data: Pew)

Mostly, people in foreign countries seem to feel about as positively or negatively about the United States as Americans feel about them. In other words, the affection or distrust seem to be about mutual. But there are some interesting exceptions. Germans, for example, are a little ambivalent about the United States despite Americans' love for Germany. Mexicans and Russians, whose countries are viewed not-so-favorably by Americans, both express favorability toward the United States.