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North Korea Remains Least-Popular Country Among Americans

North Korea Remains Least-Popular Country Among Americans

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • 86% view North Korea unfavorably
  • Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq also viewed mostly unfavorably
  • Canada, Great Britain top the list with favorable ratings above 90%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans give North Korea the lowest favorable rating of 21 countries Gallup measured in its annual update of the public's views of foreign nations. Canada and Great Britain are at the top of the list.

Americans' Favorability Ratings of Foreign Countries

The latest update on Americans' views of foreign countries is from Gallup's World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 1-5, before the alleged assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother and North Korea's testing of a ballistic missile in violation of U.N. resolutions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- who was visiting President Donald Trump in Florida when North Korea launched the missile -- called it "absolutely intolerable," and Trump vowed continued U.S. support of Japan.

However, attitudes toward North Korea were already so highly negative -- 58% "very unfavorable," 28% "mostly unfavorable" and 11% total favorable -- that it's not likely these recent events would have driven them much lower.

Americans held slightly more positive views of North Korea in 2000, 2001 and 2002, with favorable ratings in the 23% to 31% range. Perceptions of the country dropped after that, perhaps reflecting a reaction to President George W. Bush's labeling North Korea, Iran and Iraq the "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address. North Korea has been at or near the bottom of this list since 2003.

Americans' Perceptions of North Korea

Iran Rated Nearly as Negatively as North Korea

Based on Americans' ratings, the 21 nations evaluated this year can fall into five groups: most favorable, favorable, mixed, unfavorable and most unfavorable. Complete ratings for each country are at the end of this article.

  • North Korea is one of a group of five countries in the most unfavorable category -- along with Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Each of these countries has favorable ratings lower than 20% and unfavorable ratings above 70%.

  • The Palestinian Authority, Russia and Saudi Arabia fall into the unfavorable category, with Americans giving each significantly higher negative (between 65% and 70%) than positive (between 24% and 31%) ratings.

  • Egypt, China and Cuba get mixed reviews from the U.S. public. Each has a favorable rating in the low 50% range and unfavorable ratings in the mid- to high 40% range. Cuba's image remains much more positive than it was before President Barack Obama's efforts in the last years of his administration to rebuild relations with the country.

  • Americans are most positive about two of the nation's closest military and trade allies, with whom the U.S. has historical ties: Canada and Great Britain. Japan, France and Germany also are in the most favorable group, with more than four in five Americans rating them favorably. President Trump has recently emphasized the United States' friendly relations with Canada and Japan during visits from those countries' leaders to the White House. France's position near the top of the list is a rebound from its much more negative ratings in the years after the country refused to support U.S. efforts in Iraq in 2003.

  • Two important strategic and economic partners of the U.S., India and Israel, are in the favorable category this year, along with Taiwan, the Philippines and Mexico. All have favorable ratings between 64% and 74%. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also in Washington last week, and Israel maintains its overall positive rating among Americans despite significant partisan differences in its favorability. Mexico enjoys its favorable status among Americans even as Trump has announced dramatic steps to restrict the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. and to coerce American companies to decrease their manufacturing presence there.

Bottom Line

Americans have widely varying views of foreign nations around the world, with a huge gap of 81 points separating Canada, the country Americans like most, from North Korea, the country Americans like least. These country ratings generally reflect historical patterns of diplomatic and cultural relations, along with the associations between countries -- such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria -- with terrorism and nuclear threats.

Americans' basic opinions of foreign countries are fairly stable on a year-to-year basis, but there have been more dramatic changes at times, such as with France around the 2003 Iraq War and with Cuba and Russia in recent years. Subsequent reports on will explore trends in the public's views of foreign countries in more detail.

These data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 1-5, 2017, with a random sample of 1,035 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


Americans' Perceptions of Foreign Countries
  Very favorable Mostly favorable Mostly unfavorable Very unfavorable No opinion
  % % % % %
Canada 50 42 6 2 1
Great Britain 43 48 5 2 2
Japan 27 58 10 4 2
France 25 58 12 3 2
Germany 25 57 12 4 2
India 15 59 16 5 5
Taiwan 13 60 16 3 8
Israel 29 42 21 6 2
The Philippines 16 55 17 6 6
Mexico 16 48 24 10 1
Egypt 10 42 35 8 5
Cuba 9 42 33 13 3
China 10 40 35 13 2
Saudi Arabia 5 26 45 20 4
Russia 5 23 44 26 2
The Palestinian Authority 3 21 41 27 7
Iraq 3 16 49 30 3
Afghanistan 2 15 49 31 3
Syria 3 14 39 39 4
Iran 2 10 47 39 3
North Korea 3 8 28 58 2
GALLUP, FEB. 1-5, 2017

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