Germany: The Most Popular Country on the Planet

Survey results from 20 countries show Deutschland supplanting the U.S. as the world champion of image.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) has a new reason celebrate. (Peter Andrews/Reuters/The Atlantic)

After five years atop the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, the United States has been supplanted by Germany as the champion of the world.

Champion of image, anyway. The survey asked over 20,000 people across 20 countries their perceptions of 50 developed and developing countries, scoring each nation on exports, governance, culture, people, tourism and immigration/investment. Germany had previously held the top spot in 2008.

Here’s the current top 10:

1. Germany

2. United States

3. United Kingdom

4. France

5. Canada

6. Japan

7. Italy

8. Switzerland

9. Australia

10. Sweden

One reason for Germany’s resurgence: its dominant performance at the World Cup this summer in Brazil. The polls were conducted from July 10 to 28, and Germany beat Argentina in the soccer tournament’s final on July 13. With the World Cup fresh in respondents’ minds, Germany’s score for “sport excellence” rose higher than any other attribute across all 50 nations.

The U.S. dropped to second place partly because respondents in Russia and Egypt seriously downgraded its score for “global peace and security.” Russia was demoted from 22nd to 25th, seeing a substantial drop in its “governance” score.

Superiority on the pitch wasn’t the only thing boosting Germany’s ranking. Simon Anholt, founder of the Nation Brands Index (pdf), said Germany also helped its score by “solidifying its perceived leadership in Europe through a robust economy and steady political stewardship.”

Since the survey was conducted, however, Germany’s economy has started to look shakier. But it is still adept at training its workers and boasts a housing system that 93 percent of citizens are happy with—one of the highest rates of any nation.