A new global survey shows South Africa increasingly to be a place with a positive influence on the world, its growing popularity ascribed by many to the successful hosting of the 2010 football World Cup.
The survey of 28,000 people in 27 countries was carried out over three months by international pollsters GlobeScan and the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) working on behalf of the BBC World Service.
South Africa’s growing popularity – second only to Brazil’s – is widely believed to be down to last year’s football World Cup, a celebratory and well-organised spectacle. Watched by billions of people it beamed positive images of South Africa into bars and living rooms worldwide.
“In the year when South Africa hosted the World Cup, the proportion positively rating its influence in the world rose significantly,” said the annual BBC World Service Country Rating Poll.
According to GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller, "The growing credibility of middle powers is the story this year, especially Brazil and South Africa.”
Brazil is regarded positively by 49% of people, up from 40% last year, with GlobScan saying this might be down to the election of the country’s first female president.
South Africa was the second fastest riser, now regarded positively by 42% of people, up from 35% last year.
This will be welcome news in South Africa which is desperate to shake-off an image of a crime-ridden country full of car-jacking, violent robbery, murder and rape.
The US is also improving and, for the first time since the poll started in 2005 positive views of America outweighed negative ones. The US reached its nadir in 2007 but has grown gradually more positive since then although, unsurprisingly, it remains unpopular in countries where the majority of the population is Muslim.
The countries seen to have the most negative influence on the rest of the world are Iran (59% negative), North Korea (55% negative) and Pakistan (56%) – for the second year running.