Soccer success helps Germany to No 1 in world opinion

The USA has been replaced by Germany in the top spot of an annual survey of people's perceptions of 50 developed nations across the globe.

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Based on more than 20,000 online interviews and field work in 20 nations, the 2014 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index (NBI) asked people to rate countries in a variety of categories including governance, culture, exports, tourism, immigration and investment.For the past five years, the USA has been ranked as best of them all but, in this year's survey, Washington's approach to international affairs has seen the nation ousted into second place by Germany. The UK has retained its No 3 ranking.One reason behind Germany's success appears to have been its dominant performance in the World Cup which led to a large jump in the 'sports prowess' category. Simon Anholt, the survey's founder, commented: "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."Germany's score gains in the areas of honest and competent government, investment climate and social equality are among the largest it achieved across all the aspects covered by the NBI 2014 survey."While the US is still seen as number one in areas such as creativity, contemporary culture and educational institutions, its role in global peace and security has been ranked only 19th out of the 50 nations.Xiaoyan Zhao, NBI director at GfK, one of the world's largest market research institutes, said: "In a year of various international confrontations, the United States has lost significant ground where tension has been felt the most acutely."Both Russia and Egypt have downgraded the US in an unprecedented manner, particularly in their perception of American commitment to global peace and security, and in their assessment of the competence of the US government. However, on a global level, it is Russia that has received the strongest criticism from public opinion."This criticism has seen Russia fall three places to 25th on the list, being overtaken by Argentina, China and Singapore. Russia is rated poorly in terms of governance, particularly when it comes to international peace and security.Ms Zhao added: "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. As our partner Simon Anholt often says, the only superpower left in today's world is global public opinion."The top 10 rankings:1 Germany  2 United States3 UK4 France5 Canada6 Japan7 Italy8 Switzerland9 Australia 10 Sweden

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