A welcome most sincere

On the back of the multitude of news stories, tweets and facebook shares around Israel and Gaza; Russia and Eastern Ukraine; Syria; the Islamic State group, Iraq and the Kurds; and on the centenary of the first World War, I decided to build upon the latest BBC poll on attitudes of countries towards one another, with a slightly more scientific approach and of course with a map as my output.

So my goal was to create an index of as many recognised countries as possible with an assessment based upon openly available research figures as to the international perception of the friendliness of each country.

Friend or Foe?

Obviously ‘friendliness’ is a purposely-vague term that can itself be defined in many ways, but this allowed me to merge various sources into a map of common interest (you know, the kind of thing that gets a lot of retweets), whereas the specific subjects of each study are rather less inviting. Besides, ultimately I was just intrigued to see the results. Who are the most and least welcoming countries and is such a study or such a map always going to be biased based upon the countries who carried out the research? I shan’t answer that last question other than to say that I purposely included data from an international organisation.

So, I created my index by combining five datasets: the results of the 2013 and 2014 Globescan / BBC World Service poll of the attitudes of 33 countries towards one another (although not all agreed to be used) AND the ‘attitude of population toward foreign visitors’ and ‘degree of customer orientation’ tables from the 2013 report of the World Economic Forum AND the overall scores from the 2014 Global Peace Index.

As each has its own merits in terms of value of judging friendliness and as the BBC poll only includes results for 23 countries per year, I decided to use a custom weighting system.

Countries in the BBC poll were assigned their mean value from the two years, those not in the poll were assigned the mean overall value.

Then the index was weighted as:

Score = 0.07*(BBC Polls Rating) + 2.593*(WEF Attitude to Foreigners (ATF) Rating – ATF mid value) + 0.882*(WEF Degree of customer orientation (DECO) Rating – DECO mid value) + 2.083*(Global Peace Index (GPI) mid value – GPI Score)

This will roughly equate to a 30% BBC poll, 35% WEF ATF, 15% WEF DECO, 20% GPI weighting. And all of the research studies were for the years 2013 and 2014.

I contemplated creating interactive output but given the lack of depth of the data in my table and my personal desire for the output to be quite striking, I decided upon an static, artistic appearance so I created the map using QGIS and Adobe Creative Suite.

Anyway, the results were very interesting!

Israel is perceived to be less friendly a place than Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, two South American nations find themselves in the bottom five, coming mid-table the U.S.A. despite it’s many critics still has a positive rating amongst the other nations although does feature lower down the list than Bahrain for example, and the U.K. scores over +6 giving it a ranking of 11th out of the 131 countries compared.

5. Ireland

Image source: worldplacez.blogspot.com

4. Sweden

Image source: joeyshaw.com

3. Belgium

Image source: toptraveltrips.net

2. Austria

Image source: lets-plan-our-holiday.com

1. Canada

Image source: abananaaday.weebly.com

5. Venezuela

Image source: topuniversities.com

4. Bolivia

Image source: volcanoadventures.wordpress.com

3. Russia

Image (C) myvas & source: beautyscenery.com

2. Iran

Image source: bmyshot.wordpress.com

1. Pakistan

Image source: visitpak.com

*of those ranked in the index; many African and Middle-Eastern countries for example were not in the original third party datasets

Download the full index here or contact me for the complete table of data.

And here is the final map:


Download a full resolution version here

I know many cartographers out there might question my attention-grabbing, artistic approach; so I have also produced a clutter-free version (below).



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