In a changing and complex global and national climate, the fact that a country not only maintains, but also improves its international reputation is a clear sign of its ability to project its attributes.
Spain has managed to do this: it ranks as the 12th country with the best reputation in the study Spain’s Reputation in the World: Country RepTrak 2019 by the Reputation Institute by the Elcano Royal Institute. The country climbs two places in the general ranking (made up of 55 countries), rising from 73.1 in 2018 to 75.6 points in 2019, reaching a “strong/robust” level on the RepTrak strength scale, similar to the level reached by countries such as Japan (76.3 and 11th place) or Austria (75.4 and 13th place). It obtained a better score than countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France, in a ranking led by Sweden (81.7), Switzerland (83.9) and Norway (82.6) in which Europe was the clear winner as eight countries among the ten countries with the best reputation were European.
The study is based on 30,000 online interviews conducted between January and April 2019, 20,000 were conducted in the countries of the former G8 and the rest in 15 other countries, including Mexico, Spain and the Netherlands. It measures the perception of 55 countries based on 17 attributes which are divided into three groups: quality of life, level of development and the quality of its institutions.
The areas in which Spain obtains the highest scores are in regard to the natural environment (83.1 points and 9th place), leisure and entertainment (2nd place, with 85.5 points), the character of its people (8th place, with 81.3 points) and lifestyle (80.1 points and 11th place).
The character of the Spanish people and the security of the country are the most highly valued attributes abroad
These four attributes belong to the category of, ‘Quality of Life‘, and have an important influence on the country’s reputation, representing 38.2% of the country’s reputation. The character of its people and whether people are friendly and welcoming is the attribute with the most weight (8.7) in Spain’s reputation.
Another important factor in reputation is ‘Security‘, as it carries the second highest weight in the study (7.5) and in which Spain obtains a score of 73.0 points, ranking 15th and classifying as one of the safest countries analysed.
On the contrary, Spain obtained lower scores in areas such as ‘Ethics and Transparency’ (62.7 points and 18th place), ‘Technology and Innovation’ (62.3 and 24th place), ‘Effective Government and Political Environment’ (19th place with 66.4 points) and ‘Efficient Use of Resources’ (18th place with 64.3 points). The perception is of a country that lacks innovation and technology that contrasts with the fact that Spain is a benchmark in connectivity, infrastructure and entrepreneurship, among others.
The United Kingdom, has the best perception of Spain
The United Kingdom has the best perception of Spain, with a rating of 80.6 points, followed by Russia (80.1), Italy (78.8), the Netherlands (77.1), Australia (76.6), Germany (76.2) and France (75.1), all above 75 points.
China is where our country has the lowest recognition among the countries analysed, with a score of 59.3, followed by Morocco (59.3), South Korea (59.4), Colombia (62.5) and Mexico (64.9).
How Spaniards see themselves has improved
Internal reputation looks at citizens’ perception of their own country. According to the study’s self-perception ranking, Spaniards rank themselves 8th out of 19 countries included in this part of the analysis, with 74.1 points. An improvement compared to last year’s study, in which the score was 70.3. Of the seven European countries included in this ranking, only Italy and France give themselves a lower score, while at the other end of the scale the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany and Russia are the countries which have the best perception of themselves.
Canada (85.3 points), Peru (78.9) and Japan (78.6) are the countries with the highest self-evaluation scores, even above the scores given to them by citizens from other countries. South Africa (42.0 points), Brazil (50.0) and Morocco (60.4) are among the countries that gave themselves the lowest scores.
This data shows that Spaniards have a lower perception of themselves than the perception that exists internationally. Of the 19 countries included in the RepTrak study, only four countries have a lower perception of themselves than the one that actually exists internationally: South Africa is the country that has the most notable difference between the two scores (11.5 points); followed by Brazil (7.6 points less than the external score), Italy (6.4 points less) and Spain (1.5 points less).
However, the internal perception has been improving over the years and is gradually catching up with the external perception. Since 2014, when self-perception fell to an all time low (53.1), with a difference of 14.1 points with respect to the external image, it has been slowly recovering until reaching its current maximum, in which the variation between external and internal image has been reduced to 1.5 points.
As for the attributes most valued by Spaniards in their own country, ‘Quality of Life’ which is key to our reputation, stands out with the following scores: natural environment (91.0), leisure and entertainment (89.4), lifestyle (83.8), the character of its people (83.1), culture (80.4) and safety (78.3).