Two recently published international studies place our country among the 20 most influential nations in the world thanks to social, cultural, economic and governance factors.
In the last year, Spain has improved its position in the soft power ranking. This refers to looking at cultural, social, economic and governance formulas to attract international attention and exert influence without the need to use force or military power. This methodology has been analysed by two recent studies: The Soft Power 30, published by Portland, Facebook and the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and the Global Soft Power Index, prepared by the consulting firm Brand Finance.
The first study ranks our country at number 13. According to their data, we improved our score and position with respect to the two previous reports: in 2017 we obtained 63.57 points and were in 15th place; in 2018 we exceeded 69 points and were in 14th place; and in the last report, with data from 2019, we obtained more than 71 points and were in 13th place. This puts us ahead of such reputable soft power nations as Denmark, Finland, Belgium and New Zealand.
Among the categories evaluated, the best scores were achieved once again in Culture and Engagement two subcategories in which we rank 5th and 6th in the world, respectively. We also improved significantly in the Digital area, going from 26th in 2017 to 13th in 2019.
An influential culture
The second study ranks us 16th on a list of 60 countries after evaluating responses from a sample of 55,000 people from a hundred nations, consulted in the fall of 2019. The ranking is based on the seven pillars of soft power: Business and Trade, Governance, International Relations, Culture and Heritage, Media and Communications, Education and Science, and People and Values.
Spain obtained a score of 47.6 points out of 100, exceeding the global average (40.8) and distinguishing itself in the cultural and social sphere. According to the report, we are recognized worldwide for the friendliness of our people, our lifestyle and for the many brands and products that have been successful beyond our borders.
The Spanish gastronomy is also among the most valued in the world, as is our historical heritage, our art and our lifestyle. It is also renowned for its top sportsmen and women in many sporting disciplines and where names such as Rafa Nadal and Mireia Belmonte represent sporting excellence. Spain also has one of the most famous and valuable football clubs in the world, Real Madrid.
One of Spain’s greatest assets has always been its incredible cultural and heritage wealth. It is the third country in the world with the most UNESCO World Heritage designations, only behind China and Italy, with 48 properties and sites that are considered unique and diverse.
This attracts tens of millions of tourists every year, who come to our country not only to enjoy the sun and the beach. Let’s remember that in 2019, 83.7 million people came to visit us from outside our borders, 1.1% more than the previous year, and they spent more than 92 billion euros, according to data from the surveys of Tourist Border Movement (Spanish acronym FRONTUR) and Tourist Expenditure (Spanish acronym EGATUR) of the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
Beyond tourism we find that more and more Spanish companies have made the leap into the international arena. According to the HSBC Navigator study, the largest survey of company directors worldwide, 85% of our companies believe that 2020 will be a year of growth, and of these 45% believe that economic improvement will see the country open up to new markets.
To all this, we must add the journey of the Spanish language, the second most widely spoken language in the world with 483 million native speakers spread over 30 countries, according to Ethnologue, Languages of the World. There are 580 million people who are able to communicate using this language, 7.6% of the world’s population, and according to the Instituto Cervantes, using it in business multiplies by seven the bilateral flow of foreign direct investment (FDI).
For all these reasons (and many more) Spain has become one of the most influential countries in the world. Its soft power is one of the most recognized, and has become the main growth path for its economy. In other words, it is an indisputable formula that benefits our country and one we must continue to improve year after year.