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Iran, North Korea Liked Least by Americans

Iran, North Korea Liked Least by Americans

Story Highlights

  • Iran's 11% favorable rating down five percentage points from 2019
  • Mexico's, Egypt's ratings each up to highest in more than a decade
  • Most Americans (57%) have favorable view of Ukraine

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Of 20 countries rated in Gallup's 2020 World Affairs survey, 10 receive favorable ratings from a majority of Americans, while an equal number receive unfavorable ratings. Iran's 11% favorable is the lowest of all, followed closely by North Korea's 12%. Meanwhile, Canada and Great Britain, at the very top, are well-regarded by at least nine in 10 Americans.

Americans' Favorable Ratings of Foreign Countries
Next, I'd like your overall opinion of some foreign countries. What is your overall opinion of [RANDOM ORDER]? Is it very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable or very unfavorable?
Very/Mostly favorable Very/Mostly unfavorable
% %
Canada 93 7
Great Britain 90 9
Germany 85 13
France 84 14
Japan 83 16
India 75 22
Israel 74 25
Mexico 67 32
Egypt 63 34
Ukraine 57 40
Cuba 47 52
Turkey 44 53
Saudi Arabia 34 65
China 33 67
Russia 28 72
The Palestinian Authority 23 73
Iraq 19 81
Afghanistan 18 81
North Korea 12 86
Iran 11 88
GALLUP, Feb. 3-16, 2020

Although North Korea's 2020 favorable rating is similar to 2019, Iran's is down five percentage points, likely reflecting reactions to the U.S.-Iran standoff that occurred at the beginning of 2020. Since Gallup first measured opinions toward Iran, ratings have been only as high as 17% (in 2004 and 2018); they have dropped as low as 5% (in two 1989 polls). Both Iran and North Korea are among the countries Americans have perceived in recent years as being among the United States' greatest enemies.

This year's top five rated countries are the same as in 2019, and -- in addition to Canada and Great Britain -- include Germany, France and Japan.

Smaller majorities of Americans have favorable views of India, Israel, Mexico, Egypt and Ukraine. Meanwhile, in addition to Iran and North Korea, less than half of Americans have favorable views of Cuba, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Afghanistan.

These data are from Gallup's annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 3-16.

Mexico's Favorable Rating Improves to 15-Year High

Sixty-seven percent of Americans have a favorable view of Mexico, an eight-point increase from last year and marking the country's highest rating since 2005. Improved ratings of Mexico this year may reflect the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which four in five Americans believe will be good for the U.S.

Line graph. Americans’ favorable views of Mexico, 1989-2020.

Americans' views of Mexico were the most positive in the early 2000s, when President George W. Bush shared a warm relationship with then-Mexican President Vicente Fox. But Mexico's ratings deteriorated between 2005 and 2011, as illegal immigration and concerns about drugs and gang violence became more prominent issues. By 2011, more Americans viewed Mexico negatively (51%) than positively (45%).

The improvement in Mexico's image is driven largely by Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, whose favorable views of the country have increased by 15 points since last year. It is the first time a majority of Republicans have had a positive view of Mexico since 2014. Meanwhile, views among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have been stable in recent years.

Line graph. The percentage of Americans who view Mexico favorably, by political affiliation, 2002-2020.

Favorable Rating of Egypt Highest Since 2008

Egypt's image in the U.S. has recovered to levels recorded before the country's 2011 revolution that ended the three-decade presidency of Hosni Mubarak (Mubarak died shortly after Gallup's latest poll was conducted). The current 63% of Americans who have a favorable view of Egypt marks the first time the country's rating has surpassed the 60% mark since 2008.

Line graph. The percentage of Americans who view Egypt favorably, 1991-2020.

Saudi Arabia's Image Regains Some of Its 2019 Losses

Americans' views of Saudi Arabia took a double-digit hit in 2019. But the country's image has rebounded somewhat, improving by five points to its current 34%, similar to its historical average of 36%.

Line graph. The percentage of Americans who view Saudi Arabia favorably, 1991-2020.

Post-Impeachment Trial, Most Americans Like Ukraine

Fifty-seven percent of Americans have a positive view of Ukraine, a country that played a crucial role in the recent impeachment of President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, 40% have an unfavorable rating of the country.

Ukraine's latest favorable rating falls between Gallup's two previous measures: 67% in 2005, amid the country's "Orange Revolution," and 52% in 2015, during ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Bottom Line

Americans can change and have changed their minds about foreign countries, and their views of certain world nations have varied quite a bit in recent decades, generally in response to international events and resulting U.S. foreign policy.

While Americans have consistently viewed the United States' neighbor to the north positively, that has not been the case for the neighbor on its southern border. Mexico's image is enjoying a resurgence, even under a U.S. president who has had harsh words for the country. Egypt, too, has become more favorably viewed by Americans.

Iran and North Korea may have a harder time changing their images in Americans' eyes, considering their consistently low ratings over time and the fact that both are among the countries Americans are most likely to name as the United States' greatest enemy.

View complete question responses and trends.

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