What Americans think of Europeans

I wrote a hugely popular post on what Europeans think of each other, and we all know what Europeans think of Americans (that we’re fat and stupid – well, it’s a bit more complicated than that; I’ll delve into that in another post). In this post, I’ll write my experiences with my fellow Americans think about Europeans. Keep in mind, though, that the diversity of knowledge and opinion in the US is far greater than just about anywhere else in the world, so I’m not going to capture everyone’s sentiment.

At the outset, it’s important to understand this about Americans:

  • a lot of Americans live by the “if you can’t say anything nice about (something), then don’t say anything at all” adage. So most Americans, who generally have a vague positive feeling about Europe, will only say vaguely positive things about Europe, if anything at all. (“I hear it’s nice over there.”)
  • Most Americans are profoundly ignorant of geography and don’t give much thought beyond their immediate frame of reference. Before you think that means Americans are chauvinist, keep in mind they don’t give a shit about the next state over, or even next city, much less another country. Americans may be brilliant when it comes to technology, innovation and business, but they fail when it comes to geography. They are simply not interested. (This is why, I think, America assimilates foreigners better than Europe. They don’t know where other people come from, and soon forget; their foreignness ceases to be a liability, unlike Europeans who always remember that China had the Tiananmen Square massacre, a Serb killed Archduke Ferdinand and Serbia gave the world Slobodan Milosevic, etc.)
  • the last few years have seen politically-active Americans attuned to world affairs much more than they have traditionally been, because of the wars, antagonism towards US foreign policy, propaganda by the Bush administration, etc. Growing up, I can tell you that no one ever cared what was going on outside our borders, other than to think the Soviet Union was a miserable shithole, and everywhere else was OK (but not as great as the USA).

That said, let me get down to the specifics, country by country. Remember that I’ll only include those that the average American has heard of and actually knows is in Europe (you ask the average American where Albania is, and you might be surprised at the variety of answers; I expect fully a third would say “Antarctica”). I’m being a little harsh on my fellow Americans, but, as an American, this is something we tend to do:

  • UK – This is the only European country (and, like the Brits, Americans don’t always consider it part of Europe, even though it clearly is) that Americans tend to have largely uncritical views of, regardless of whether they’re at the political right or left (actually, let me add the neighboring Irish to that list). Brits are considered “polite”, “dignified” and “cultured” by virtue of their speech, which Americans, through decades of inculcation through movies and television, have come to ascribe values to. The only negative is of those with posh, elite accents to be thought of as devious or cunning; many Hollywood thrillers aimed at a middle-class audience have some greedy British villain who’s just too smart for his own good (stupidity is equated with a lack of guile, which middle-class Americans admire). I don’t think most Americans, until recently, have known that there is a substantial, vociferously anti-American contingent in the UK; many on the far left think it’s all directed at Bush and his policies (it isn’t nearly that temporal nor partisan), so they tend to think of the Brits as being “on our side”.
    There is a perception, poked fun of in popular media, that Brits have bad teeth, but it’s one of those stereotypes that is not really taken all that seriously, like that Poles are stupid or that Italians don’t bathe.
    Among younger people, the UK is synonymous with London, where it’s imagined everything is cool, edgy, rock. For many young women, having a English rocker boyfriend has substantial cachet.
    Other than that, I think most Americans are completely oblivious to the stereotypes that the English and Scots endure by Europeans (that they’re cheap, two-faced, etc.)
  • France – Mixed feelings, mixed feelings. Most Americans have known that the French enjoy criticizing the US and Americans; they know that Parisians are rude the minute you say something in English. But they still go there. Except for the minority of hard-core right-wing Americans who choose travel destinations on principle alone (they usually stay home), most Americans want to visit Paris.
    But, the average American is going to use the following word when describing the French: “snob.” And by most accounts it’s probably the most offensive word you can use in America, where “he’s a regular guy” is one of the highest compliments you can pay to someone.
    On the positive side, “cultured”, “sophisticated” and “thin” betray a certain jealousy that even the most hardened anti-French have towards this country, our oldest ally in the world.
  • Italy – American perceptions of Italians are shaped by Italian-Americans (who are mostly from Sicily, and are quite different from most contemporary Italians), the food, and, of course, Hollywood. Italians are considered laid-back, stylish, loud (in a good way; remember, we Americans are loud), and know good food. Think about it – if there ever were a universally-liked cuisine, it would be Italian. Italian women are considered very sexy – think Sophia Loren and Monica Bellucci. The men, too, are loved by American women (and gay men). The only negative stereotypes are that they’re mafiosos, and don’t bathe – very old stereotypes that made them the butt of jokes about 100 years ago. No one takes these sorts of jokes seriously anymore.
  • Germany – Unlike the Brits and other Europeans, Americans don’t have anything against the Germans. This is probably due to the fact that a plurality of white Americans have Deutsch blood coursing through their veins, and because Americans have fantastically short memories. Of course, if an American hates any particular German, he’s going to call him a Nazi, but Americans don’t think of them as the humorless, stiff, nazionalsocialistischer automatons that your average Brit, French or Czech does. Beyond that, the only perception of Germany is beer, sausage, sauerkraut and Oktoberfest. And maybe lederhosen.
  • Spain – I’m sorry to say this, considering Spaniards’ enormous sensitivity around it, but most Americans are going to conflate the Spanish with Mexicans. They’re going to assume Spain is poor, the people eat tacos and burritos, and they pay with worthless pesos. They’re going to assume Madrid is a suburb of Mexico City, and Barcelona is an island near Cancun. If they have fantastic memory, they might remember the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, those famous Mexican ships sailed by that Mexican explorer, Hernan Cortes.
  • Scandinavia – I’m throwing the Netherlands in here, too, because for whatever reason, most Americans think “Dutch” applies to Denmark, and that they speak Danish in Holland. (I tell people although they’re all tall blondes that speak Germanic languages, Dutch bikes are routinely stolen while Danish ones aren’t.) Scandinavia is considered advanced technologically and blonde, blonde, blonde, but beyond that, there’s no reason to ever visit any of those countries. And most Americans might think Scandinavia is a country, and they speak a language called Slavic.
  • Ireland – Considering a happy, beautiful, green country full of shamrock-covered meadows and cheery little leprechauns. Maybe not too far from the truth, actually. The negative stereotype is that they’re drunks, but in America, that’s not really an insult anymore. Most Americans would be floored if they knew the per capita GDP of Ireland was higher than that of the US, and that Ireland has only 4.6 million people. Most Americans think it’s a huge, poor country.
  • Portugal – Part of Puerto Rico.
  • Greece – Based on the popularity of the 2002 film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Greece is probably considered a quaint, colorful country full of charmingly nationalistic bumpkins. But the reality is that the country doesn’t cross the minds of most Americans whatsoever.
  • Countries completely ignored except by some ethnic descendants – Poland, Czechoslovakia (that’s right – it’s still one country), Yugoslavia (v.s.), Hungary (most Americans will think you’re joking if you tell them this is the name of a country; they might even believe you if you tell them it’s near Thirstary), and anything eastward, until you hit Russia.
  • Russia – Large, poor, cold, angry, gray. Again, not too far from the truth. Russia includes places like Moscow, Ukraine, all the -stans (sometimes even Paki- and Afghani-) and just about any other country with a majority white people that speak a language that’s not English that they’ve never heard of (Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, etc). Like the other former Iron Curtain countries, considered cold, depressing, nothing to see. They wouldn’t believe that St Petersburg is as beautiful as it is, as are Prague, Budapest, Krakow, etc.

These have been my perception of what the average insular white American knows and thinks. Here are some variants for different subgroups based on my conversations:

  • African-Americans (black) – Love France. Neutral on the rest of western Europe. Have absolutely no interest in, knowledge of, or desire to visit Eastern or Northern Europe.
  • Latinos – Love Spain. Positive on France and Italy. Have absolutely no interest in, knowledge of or desire to visit any other European country.
  • Asians – Indians adore Britain. The Vietnamese adore France. Filipinos adore Spain. (Are we beginning to see a pattern here?) Other Asians are not particularly interested in Europe (unless they’re very “Americanized”).
  • Gays – Europe is London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Ibiza. The Mediterranean is hot. So is Eastern Europe, paradoxically (so much Eastern European gay porn comes Stateside). Very, very confused on which city goes where; a widespread perception that London, Paris, and Prague are an hour-long train ride from each other.
  • Lesbians – The only lesbians I know have gone to Amsterdam and loved it. Too small a sample size for me to form an impression.
  • Hipsters – Love London, Paris, and slightly more “edgy” capitals like Copenhagen, Prague, Helsinki and Barcelona. They tend to be relatively well-off and educated, so they might buck a lot of the stereotypes I’ve laid out here.

This will, no doubt, make more than a few Europeans fume in indignation, or nod smugly that Americans really are as ignorant as they’ve thought. Remember that there is a small but not insignificant (maybe 5-10%?) number of Americans who are widely travelled and know a ton about Europe and its geography, national temperaments and culture. They tend to live in the “urban archipelago”, esp in coastal cities like New York or San Francisco.

Update: If you want to see it quantified, here are Americans’ sentiments towards other countries (not just European). Unsurprisingly, the current bugaboos harped on about in the media are at the bottom of the list.

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  2. I adore Spanish women. I love their diet and the way that they are so conscientious of their physical appearance.

    Comment by Amanda Hammond — August 5, 2008 @ 11:39 am

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  4. Oh my, how embarrassing for you all.

    Comment by Isa — August 31, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  5. Czechoslovakia (that’s right – it’s still one country)

    Not since 1992:


    You might want to fix that so you don’t look like a stupid American. 🙂

    Comment by Brian — August 31, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  6. Brian – I know it’s 2 countries now. I was writing that entire section from the perspective of your average, geography-ignorant American.

    Comment by JM — August 31, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  7. what about luxembourg…..

    yeah….even european do not know that it exists…..
    sad…but true….

    Comment by lionbeast — August 31, 2008 @ 9:08 am

  8. This made me laugh. Sad but often very true. Americans also ask the worst questions.

    “Do they wear Peter Pan clothes in the Never-Neverlands?”

    “I love France! It’s right next to China, right?”

    “How was the bus ride from Germany to America?”

    And if you think Luxembourg has a bad situation (they’re all rich from cigarette money anyways), imagine poor Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, and Monaco. 😛

    Comment by Geweldig! — August 31, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  9. Haha Geweldig, but come on, those are probably exaggerations. And let’s be honest, “poor” is the not the word anyone should use when describing Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco… 🙂

    Comment by JM — August 31, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  10. Speak for yourself, America is too diverse for you to make blanket statements about what we think. You may have attempted to water it down with humour, but your disdain for America and Americans comes through loud and clear. It is unfortunate that many people that read this garbage will actually believe it.

    Comment by John Smith — August 31, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  11. I am ashamed to admit the truth of the stereotypes mentioned above. I am a geographically-educated american. I have a better understanding of the world around me than most of my more ignorant counterparts, so I will add to some of the common American ideas. Please do not attribute the following to my personal views:

    first: Americans are not stupid, they are just self-centered. It is not that they (I say “they” because I do not think this way) are rude or stupid, but that they simply do not care about anything that does not directly influence their day-to-day life. even if something does influence them, they will forget about it the minute it is gone.

    I live in Maryland, the state that contains the Nation’s Capitol, Washington DC. I find it strange how most Americans could not point to Maryland on a map of the country, and are mystified when they realize that DC is not a separate state. they have no idea what DC stands for, and think that Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Main, Delaware,New Jersey, and Rhode Island are all just a cluster of states located above New York. Ask americans how many states are in the country, you’ll get answers anywhere from 39-52.

    Before 9-11, most Americans were convinced that New York was the capitol.

    And thats what they think about their own country…imagine what they think about yours!

    We are also widely influenced by the media, the internet, and YouTube. When the media tells us that some random country in the middle east (and we dont even know where the middle east is) is responsible for our oil problems, we believe it, and curse that country until the prices fall again and then we go on forgetting that any other country exists.

    oh, and we think Canadians are stupid, Iceland/Greenland (which we think are the same country, or at least interchangeably named) are part of Canada, and that any place in Africa is hot, any place in Asia is hot, and any place in Europe is cold and constantly rainy.

    we also have a problem imagining that any places other than America, Paris, Tokyo, and London are civilized and have electricity.

    one more thing: iceland/greenland are the same, japan/china are interchangable, any language/accent that is not french/italian/spanish/Chinese/Japanese must be german or russian. all south americans are mexican, and mexicans are the same as spaniards, and all of those people lumped into that category must be dirty and lazy.

    and yet we think we are some sort of lovable, cant go wrong, center of the universe country that everyone admires and wants to live in.

    Comment by ann — September 1, 2008 @ 6:49 am

  12. I’m not sure what your error was for there, but the District of Columbia, though it is not a separate State with a capital S, is nonetheless separate from Maryland.

    It is not one of the 50 States. Instead it is considered to be a District, a status somewhat analogous to being a territory, as with Puerto Rico, or American Samoa. I believe that, unlike territories however, residents of D.C. pay full federal taxes, yet elect no Representatives to Congress. The District is allowed one (rather than two) token “Senator(s)” who has speaking privileges on the Senate floor but does not vote in legislation.

    This may in part explain the District’s contemporary motto “No taxation without representation”. It may also explain how the District’s working population is disproportionate to its residing population even when compared to similar urban centers.

    From Wikipedia:

    “The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides.”


    “Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital.”

    It is generally believed that D.C.’s peculiar territorial status was intentional on the part of the Founding Fathers, as Congressmen from less powerful States feared the State in which the seat of government resided (then feared to most likely be Virginia) would have too great an influence on american politics.

    This also is thought to explain the siting of Washington on the northern bank of the Potomac. That is, it was a compromise that placed it not too close to, but not too far from, the heart of the Old Dominion of Virginia.

    Comment by Paul Gibson — September 3, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  13. Yup. I agree with this too. I grew up in Kansas and Indiana and except for that handful of friends that backpacked across Europe, there is little understanding of different cultures. As was mentioned here, it is embarrassing, but it is not a sign of stupidity. It is a sign of our self centered nature. People gave up everything to emigrate here. Many didn’t want to remember the place they left behind and in our short 200 years of existence, that attitude dictates the way Americans are raised.

    Comment by dnel — September 3, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  14. To John Smith: It’s not disdain for America/Americans. It’s the truth. Simply ask some questions to people you know and you will see just how geographically ignorant the majority of Americans are.

    I think a lot of the problem is that geography is no longer a required course. They’ve lumped it all together under “social studies” and children are studying it for a month or less. Quite a few people have never had a real geography course. It’s very sad, actually.

    Comment by Laken — September 3, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  15. hahaha very tue

    Comment by Neil — September 3, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

  16. Wow. To ANN, the ” geographically-educated american,” who has a “better understanding of the world around (her) than most of (her) more ignorant counterparts,” I can only say, your arrogance and condescension are only eclipsed by your superior knowledge of geography and your fellow Americans’ lack thereof.

    I have relatives staying with me for the weekend and there are 11 of us in our house, ages 71 to 8. Every one of us knows what “DC” stands for (what the hell?!) and how many states there are (unlike Obama, who seems to think there are 58). We all know where the New England states are and the difference between Spain and Mexico.

    I printed this article, took it to work, and, although I cannot repeat what was said about you, they were all as geographically knowledgeable as you claim you are and with exceedingly more class than one who would paint their compatriots with such a broad brush and take it upon themselves to speak for them.

    If you actually meant what you posted, you must be friends with the very stupidest Americans in the country. As my British best friend would say, “Get stuffed.’

    Comment by Gabrielle — September 14, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

  17. The author needs to talk for himself/herself. The facts are different in reality and many Americans are a lot more educated than what she/he assumes they are, so they have a way different opinion about all the countries mentioned. It is just a pathetic article, better get another job, pal.

    Comment by European — September 19, 2008 @ 5:54 pm

  18. I agree that Americans don’t spend much time thinking about about Europe, but I think part of the reason is that the US is such a large country with such distinct regions. We are so rich in culture here in the States that the rest of the world is just off our radar. Look at the difference in culture between Nashville and San Francisco. There’s just so much to explore in our own back yards.

    Comment by OpaqueArthur — September 22, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

  19. Personally, I agree with Ann. I think she hit the nail right on the head. Gabrielle didn’t make it clear where she was from. But if I had to make a bet, I’d say one of the “Eastern” or Southern States. (Maybe in a city like Chicago or Alabama.)
    My experience while traveling in Europe and the U.S. has been that Americans are incredible ignorant. They take any criticism of America personally, and view the world by their measuring stick. (We’re # 1, We’re # 1 !!!! etc., etc….)
    When I moved back to the states after living in Eastern Europe for years, I was shocked by the refusal of Americans to believe anything I told them about Europe that did not conform to their preconceived beliefs. I remember a conversation with my (politically conservative), father regarding the Soviet Union, which at that time, was in the process of breaking up. He insisted, and would not believe that everyone in the Soviet Union was not “Russian”. As for as he was concerned they spoke Russian and thought along the same lines, which was to destroy us Americans. When I tried to tell him about Georgia, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, etc., etc.,…he just would not believe that they saw themselves as individual countries, culturally and historically.
    Most of conservative America’s views were formed in the “50’s” and hasn’t really changed. They see America as “The World” and the rest of the planet as only mildly interesting, or important. If it doesn’t affect them directly, (like gas prices), then it’s not really significant. They see their president as “The Leader of the Free World”. (Although I don’t ever recall an election being held for that position, and I’m sure most Europeans would not see him as their “leader”)

    In short they feel uneasy when something does not conform to a positive view of their country. Especially when something or someone like a black man has the gall to run for president, and feel obliged to insult him and his education. I’d bet good money that Obama has a higher education, knows more about the United States and the rest of the world then all 11 of the weekend occupants of Gabrielle’s house.
    Education is a wonderful thing, and if one seeks out knowledge of other countries, cultures, etc. from sources other than main-stream American press, they’ll be amazed by how it changes your views and attitudes.

    Comment by Pat — September 28, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

  20. I agree, Europeans are not in the forfront of the average American mind. Americans tend to think that everything revolves around the USA and that the rest of the world is just a playground to vacation in. Americans rarely have anything negative to say about European countries (except France), but at the same time we tend to think that we have it better here than any other country. I think most Americans feel so good about their country that it doesnt even make us angry when others say terrible things about us. We know we have a great thing here.

    The poster is wrong about how Americans feel about the French. I hear terrible jokes about the French all the time. Most of the jokes are about what cowards they are. There are also a lot of jokes about how bad their body odor is and about their lack of personal grooming. The term “French bath” is used to refer to the act of using perfume instead of taking a bath. I have hear people take about how perverted they are and how easy the women are.

    Comment by jane — October 15, 2008 @ 6:29 am

  21. Americans ARE self-centered and ignorant. They can be fed any information the media tells them about the world outside and they will believe it. I know this by watching my own family…college educated, middle class adults, all of them. They’re not stupid, they just don’t care, and they’re content in their stereotypes.

    But along that line, Americans are ignorant of other Americans, too. don’t think east-coast Americans don’t have certain (wrong) perceptions of life in the west, either. They think everyone is either a cowboy, an Indian, a hippie, or a Hollywood star. And I’ve definitely come across those who think that people in the south (where I live) are all hillbillies, don’t wear shoes, don’t have electricity, and are incapable of forming a proper sentence and speaking coherently. I beg to differ.

    Comment by Jen — October 21, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

  22. I don’t know… I’m American and I love geography and other cultures. I’m always embarrassed when I have to admit that most American’s don’t know this stuff. Whenever I hear it, I just want to yell “but I do! I understand!” Hopefully this will someday change and we won’t all be ‘stupid Americans’ anymore.

    Comment by Hebber17 — October 31, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

  23. It is normal for Europeans to feel that way. When you are to weak to protect yourself and you rely on someone else to defend your family, you will always be bitter and hold a grudge against your rescuer . I understand so I don’t dislike them for it. Just feel bad for them.

    Comment by Ray The Money Man — October 31, 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  24. I always thought that Europe is to Americans what the US is to us Europeans, one big country.

    I personall think most Europeans can’t tell one state apart from the other, and only a little grasp on US geography….


    Comment by Tia — November 1, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

  25. Everybody needs to chiiillll. It’s obviously a joke and I thought it was pretty funny. Although I wound amp up the negativity on our view of France. There’s still a lot of negative stereotypes (remember freedom fries? I know, I’ve tried to block it out of my memory too…) and jokes, mostly empty and teasing though. And I’ve never heard Spain equated to Mexico, like, ever. I’m pretty sure most americans don’t really have an opinion on Spain. It’s kinda just there.

    And honestly, claiming that all americans are ignorant about geography is kinda silly. I mean, unfortunately there are a large percentage that don’t know where friggin Iraq is (which is so DUMB. Read a book damnit), but Europe is across the sea, and America’s a pretty big country. We’ve got quite a lot of stereotypes and almost little nations we’ve got to deal with ourselves. Which is no excuse for ignorance, of course, but perhaps a reason for it.

    I would also hazard a guess that Europeans are more knowledgeable about Europe ’cause all the countries are so small and mushed together and affect each other so much due to the proximity. I doubt many Europeans would be able to name the states though, because it’s not relevant, just like Yugoslavia or whatever is not exactly relevant to America (sorry Yugoslavia :P)

    Comment by Colleen — November 5, 2008 @ 6:10 pm

  26. […] More from the same author: What Americans think of Europeans. […]

    Pingback by What Europeans Think of Each Other | The Blog of Record — November 8, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

  27. Part of the problem is location. Yes, Americans are very self-centered and arrogant which contributes to our lack of geographical knowledge. But even if we weren’t these things, why would anyone expect that we would be as good at European geography as Europeans? Seriously, you live there, we don’t. And we’re not the only ones. I did a 1 year exchange to Japan when I was in highschool and I remember Japanese kids were just as clueless about European geography as American kids. The funny thing is that they weren’t that great at Asian geography either. No doubt because they hate other Asians and hate being classified as Asian. Maybe it’s an island country thing (i.e. British) I want to know how many European kids can point out Lesotho, Bangladesh or Uraguay on a map.

    Comment by Hunter — November 10, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  28. I’m an American (Texan, haha) going to uni in Germany and I’d have to agree with most of what’s said here. But I’d like to re-affirm that America’s self-centered mentality does indeed have it’s good points. Especially when it comes to racism. I would say the average European is by far more racist than the average American. If that fact stems from geographic ignorance, so what? And the whole “everybody wants to live here” mentality isn’t far off, since out of the industrialized nations, America’s the only one with significant population growth (which can be attributed mostly to immigration).

    Comment by Megen — December 13, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  29. “I’m an American (Texan, haha)”
    “I would say the average European is by far more racist than the average American.”

    Oh really. You’re from Texas, a state where people dragged an african-american with their pick-up truck until he died.
    Yes their are some racists in Europe, but Americans also have a large share of racists, some that are even more brutal than anything in Europe.
    So don’t be proud of yourself.

    Comment by Roland — December 25, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  30. hello everyone

    This is a verry interresting aguement and I think i might add something to it. I find myself a worldly person beacause I am 17 years old now and am born in Iran ( so I went to school in Iran and i know the language)
    when I was 9 my familly moved to belgium where I lived for another 7 years where I learned Dutch and French ( and of course the European way and vieuws of life ) I travelled through Europe the last few somers and I might add my best sins the 5th grade is hallf german oh and the past year I have been living in England.
    So what it comes down to for me is that I know most of the wester-european vieuws of the US and the Iranian vieuws of Americans and Europeans what and what I do know about the US myself is only from movies series etc. so no observative information…

    europeans rescently ( the dutch belgian french and german which I am in contact whit ) tend to hate the Bush administration and basicly think of Americans of ignorant bastards whom think they are all there is in the world while some of the British have similiar feelings because of the credit crunch and rescession most of them are changing their mind about you people because of Obama.

    The Iranian comunity is devided by 2 – you know the ones whit death to america death to Israel – and there is a second group, significantly larger but unheared of who pray for an invasion of America to release the from idiots like Bush jr jr ( Ahmedinejad :p lol )

    So where it all comes to for me is that you people are hated because you gouvernments political agenda and your own showbizz ( hollywood basically)

    where I stand is from my experience 80% of all people in any nation DUMBASSES wether in Iran Belgium or England but you Americans are just in the spot lights right know so you have to deal with more critisism just like Britney Spears lol

    Comment by Milad — January 16, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  31. I am from India living in this country for 18 years. Me and My husband are well educated and living a comfortable life.I consider Americans to be rude, mean, loud and ignorant people. They really don’t care about offending foreigners. They think USA is their universe and other countries in the world does not exist for them. Americans have asked me some stupid questions like…
    1. Did your husband go to work on a CAMEL? How rude and ignorant and stupid is that question? They hear camel in India on TV and concludes that we all ride camels everyday. The city that I come from does not even have a single camel there.
    2. Do you have a phone and swimming pool? What!!! they think we all live in trash cans because thats what this stupid media shows on TV and these ignorant idiots believe it.
    3. How did you learn to speak such good english? They don’t know anything about British History in India. All they know is “Sati System and Caste System” because that’s what high school world history books teaches them and so that is Indian history for them. They have no idea that we have so much history to offer than just these 2.
    4. Another rudest thing that I have experienced is staring at my food when I eat. I am a vegetarian. They look like they have never seen anything like that before. I find this really offensive because in my culture we are taught that staring at others food is wrong.
    5. India!!!! Oh its a hot country!! Not all states are hot. There are some states which have very good tropical weather. NOPE!! they dont want to believe it, even after I said that I stay there. There is no country better than my USA is their mentality.
    6. I told an American that I am afriad of snakes and his response was..”Why should you be afraid of snakes?You should be used to it.” What!!!!! Just because India has snakes does not mean that Snakes crawl under my bed and sofa everyday.
    The Schools display messages to repect diversity and be sensitive to other cultures, but that is all words. I don’t see any respect , Its just BS.
    I have to say that Americans need to be educated more about different cultures since America has immigrants from all parts of the world. I have to say that I get along very well with any immigrant than an American. We immigrants understand each other better than an American.
    We work hard and pay taxes just like any AMerican. So, why this racism and hatred?

    Comment by Manju — February 4, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  32. Manju-I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a tough time here in the States. Americans have mixed feelings about Indian immigrants, but you’re being too negative. In the linked survey above India has the same favorability rating as American allies France, Israel & South Korea. Indians in America are often seen as a “model minorities”. Even Apu of the Simpsons is portrayed as a tireless worker with a PHd in computer science.

    To most Americans, “where you come from is not nearly as important as where you’re going”. One should not confuse American ignorance of a culture with hostility towards that culture.

    To answer your question-most negative stereotypes about India can be attributed to current American suspicion of Islam. The Mughal influence made India part of the Islamic world. This is more about politics than race. Islamists (not necessarily Muslims) have taken the place of the Soviets (not necessarily Russians) as the bad guys in American pop culture.

    But India IS a relatively poor country. That’s not cultural insensitivity, that’s a fact. Get over it. You are not doing India a favor by soft-pedaling that nation’s very real economic problems. I can’t make excuses for some of the sillier stereotypes about India that you have encountered. Camels & snakes? But it was Nehru who created the phrase “Third World” to describe his country.

    Comment by Steve-O — February 7, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

  33. \Based on the popularity of the 2002 film… blah blah..\


    \But the reality is that the country doesn’t cross the minds of most Americans whatsoever.\

    THANK GOD !!!

    Comment by bob — March 17, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  34. Well, generalisations and condescension abound in most of this commentary. Didn’t you guys ever learn to see people for who they are as individuals? You can’t cluster people into “cookie-cutter” cutouts. Humans are the most hypocritical species. More people need to get of their superiority high horse and gain a little humility. (To those, that posted logical commentary this is not for you.)

    Comment by TL — March 18, 2009 @ 2:36 am

  35. “He insisted, and would not believe that everyone in the Soviet Union was not “Russian”. As for as he was concerned they spoke Russian and thought along the same lines, which was to destroy us Americans. When I tried to tell him about Georgia, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, etc., etc.,…he just would not believe that they saw themselves as individual countries, culturally and historically.”

    Speaking as someone whose Ukrainian relatives were forced to relocate elsewhere within the USSR and whose native language was officially suppressed in favor of Russian, it seems to me your father had a valid point, Pat.

    This article is twaddle that reinforces the most self-congratulatory prejudices and ignorance of its author and most of the commenters. The small, blue collar town I grew up in had families only one or two generations removed from dozens of other countries, European, Asian and increasingly African as well. Many of those households were and are bilingual in English and whatever was spoken ‘in the Old Country’ and the religious services in our little town were often bilingual as well.

    I don’t have to travel to the Ukraine to know a good deal about it (and yes I can find it on the map). I grew up knowing my family’s history and culture, celebrating it here alongside American customs, and I am far from being unusual among Americans in this way.

    But if one needs to pull out credentials that matter to the backpacking set, then perhaps it’s also relevant that I speak / read 4 languages, have travelled on 3 continents and done business in Europe, the middle East and Asia.

    Comment by molon labe — March 19, 2009 @ 7:41 am

  36. I may be late to the party, but stereotypes between the US and Europe have always fascinated me.

    I think the general thread that Americans just aren’t that interested in anything outside their immediate community is generally true. Most Americans do believe that the US is the best place to live, but they may have some reason. If you look over the past 50 years (the living memory of the baby boomers) can you point out a country that has had as much success and as little strife? Many Americans are captive to their media, and what they see of Europe can be summed up as: strikes, WW2 movies where Yanks die for Europeans, demonstrations, burning cars, sordid pedophilia rings, and football riots. Is that fair? Absolutely not. But its what people see.

    I’d like to see a survey comparing US geographical knowledge with Canadian. I would expect the Canadians to do a little better, but not a lot. I would also be curious how many Europeans can name and locate the 50 states.

    There are 2 reasons that Americans lack geographical curiosity: it is fundamentally and historically an isolationist country, and our education system is very poor. You want a real understanding of American geographic ignorance? read this description of what they are taught:


    Comment by Simon — March 20, 2009 @ 10:54 am

  37. well Simon you have some points there but please tell me is it the same not being able for a european to locate all 50 states and this? :

    Comment by bob — March 23, 2009 @ 3:15 am

  38. I agree with every person who conveyed the message that you can’t paint all Americans with the same brush stroke. And since we are so diverse in this country alone, I refuse to form any stereotypes of people from other countries. Any pigeon-holing in and of itself is stupidity. Every country is going to have a certain amount of small minded people who harbor prejudices, but it’s also going to have plenty of people who carry a spirit of \Live and let live\. I was chatting on an U.K. site a couple of years ago. When one of the people found out I was an American, he said, \too bad, I liked you up until now\, or words to that effect. A couple of others from the U.K. quickly hopped on him for that comment.

    I may be no expert on geography (forgive me), but I won’t condemn you for not understanding the things that I do know about that you may not be as versed in. There is too much to learn in this lifetime to absorb it all. Good enough for me to know right now that no matter where he lives, each man is my brother.

    Comment by Charissa — March 24, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  39. Hey people, i just wanna say stop hating on each other. why does everything have to be so negative? i have nothing against anyone or their opinions, but show some optimism. maybe if you give compliments instead of complaints people from different nations would start liking each other.
    Also, i really like Europe, it never cease’s to fascinate me. and i really want to go to india, china and russia…. actually any country would be cool to go to: )

    Comment by Ansley — March 28, 2009 @ 6:54 pm

  40. I shared this with a few friends, and here’s a quick list of stereotypes that we came up with. Oh, and we’re all mid-20’s from the US (Kansas City):
    UK – Bad food, worse weather, but really cool accent
    Ireland – Drunks
    Spain – A wealthier, more cultured Mexico
    Portugal – Spain’s Canada
    France – arrogant and lazy (except when rioting)
    Netherlands – Potheads
    Scandinavia – Where vikings come from. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and everything there is really, really expensive.
    Germany – Really into S&M and live off of Beer, brats, and saurkraut
    Italy – Loud and emotional….but great food
    Greece – See above
    Poland – alcoholics
    Russia – depressed and angry alcoholics

    Point of contention….I have no idea where the author came up with “Americans think Scandinavia as one country.” I would bet that most know damn well that it is made up of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark…they just can’t tell the difference between any of them.

    I don’t think the author is giving Americans enough credit. For example, I agree that a good chunk of Americans wouldn’t be able to pick out Portugal on a map, but saying that Americans think its a part of Puerto Rico is a huge stretch.

    Just my 2 cents…..It was a fun read, thanks for writing.

    Comment by Chris — April 7, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  41. ireland population in 1996 was 3 million, now its closer to 5. americans. technologically brilliant. don’t think so and the american friends i know, have little if any knowledge about outside the states but always have an opinion. i’m nigerian. cheers

    Comment by johnny — April 14, 2009 @ 7:20 am

  42. I’m Italian.

    Yes, we are a little bit mafious, but we bathe! 🙂

    we also are very surprised that italy is the only country that, in the restroom, has the “ass-cleaner” next to the WC…

    and we all say “how the hell the rest of the world clean the ass after…..”

    anyway thank you for posting, very nice and true!


    Comment by accio — May 19, 2009 @ 6:01 am

  43. I am appalled by the vision Americans have of certain parts of Europe. I am Spanish but, I’ve lived in Mexico, the US, the UK, France and Germany…
    And this article sadly only reassured what i was exposed to with when living in the US.
    Spain is NOT in Latin America
    Spain is a part of Europe!
    Spanish cuisine has been rated the best in the world this last year – better thatn the French!
    Spain has 5 official languages: Spanish, Catalan, Euskera, Galician and Valencià.
    Spain is the 8th economy of the World!
    It snows in Spain in the winter!
    Spain (along with Germany and Japan) is a world leader in clean, renewable energies.
    Spain’s high speed train technology has been developed in Spain and has been praised by Obama’s administration.
    Madrid is at the same latitude as NYC!
    Madrid and Mexico City are worlds apart (not to mention an entire ocean apart!) Madrid and Barcelona are both beautiful, cosmopolitan cities (unfortunately they have a constant feud with each other) And contrary to popular belief it is difficult to find Mexican food in Spain. And cities like Madrid and Barcelona are much cleaner than cities like Paris, or Los Angeles – and those comments I’ve heard from foreigners, not Spaniards.
    When studying in the US (in a prestigious university, not a corn field) I got comments that ranged from what part of Mexico I was from, after saying i was from Spain, to what language they spoke in Spain, because i spoke English with a British accent. At the supermarket my friends always showed me all these Mexican products so that i could feel more at home, and at the end I took it as a joke but… I’M NOT MEXICAN!
    It amuses me how impressed Americans are when they visit Madrid… “wow, this is nothing like Mexico!” – well, ya think? This is Europe!…
    And about Portugal, Spaniards unfortunately don’t know much about the Portuguese and just ignore them. On the other hand, Portugal looks up to Spain and all the Portuguese i know speak at least three languages each.
    Spain is a bit like Italy in the sense that there is a huge difference between the north and the south.
    Spain is a great entrepreneurial power, however many people ignore this, not only the Americans, also the British and Germans that come every summer to get drunk at our beaches. hahaha! That’s a huge stereotype, but truth be told, my German and British friends are lovely people and know Spain for what it really is.
    Well, sorry about his huge post… it’s just that i got really worked up when i read about Americans thinking Spain is like Mexico…

    Hope you all can visit my lovely home country one day… And see it for what it really is (and not fall in the tourist traps!… lots of them! – that unfortunately don’t give the proper image)

    If you’re in Madrid, go to the Prado Museum, the Sorolla Museum, walk through the Retiro, have a night out through Huertas and Plaza Santa Ana,
    Go to the Palacio de Oriente, have a cup of coffee at the café in front of the Opera. There are so many cultural activities going on! And if you do come, do it in the spring… it is actually too hot in the summer 😉

    ¡Besos desde Londres!

    Comment by Estefanía — May 31, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  44. I am a 26 year old ignorant person, I have studied and i speak more just one language but I an unaware of many interesting topics and for example… i didn’t know Holland and The Netherlands were two different territories.
    Just one last thing, there are dumb, tacky, brilliant and sophisticated people in
    Europe just as anywhere else in the world.
    But yes, Europeans can locate Bangladesh, Lesotho and Benin… on a world map, let alone Uruguay!
    Yes there are chavs in Britain and gypsies in Spain – but generally the European education system has a much higher level than the US. This applicable to public education – Universities are all more homogenous so to speak. Also, Europeans may not be able to place all 50 states perfectly but they’d do better than most Americans think… and can any American name the provinces/regions in France, Spain, Italy or Finland? Europeans can’t either because that is national geography, not international geography – which should be general culture. Having a big country is no excuse for a lousy education. My best friend is Russian – biggest country in the world – and she knows where Malaysia and Milwaukee are.
    My sister attends University in Boston, she’s a second year double major in biology and philosphy… she tells me that the stuff she studied in senior school in Madrid (high school) is what she’s being taught on her second year of University… in subjects like Chemistry and Biology.

    Spain is not the best country in the world, nor is Sweden – There is no such thing as the perfect country. Americans tend to think they live in the best country out of ignorance… they don’t know how life is outside their borders.
    They think the US is the most liberal country in the world, I BET TO DIFFER!
    Europe has been much more progressive, especially since the 70s.
    The US is not the best country in the world, at least not for me… Though I shouldn’t make this comment since i don’t know all the US… and would go to live to NYC quite happily. But for the other cities i know like LA, Boston, San Francisco… ( i love San Francisco) I’d rather live in Europe.

    I am not anti-American, I am just quite happy on this of the pond, that is all. After living in the US for years, and I realise that Europe is more open minded, more liberal, has less censorship (all countries have censorship to some degree) than America.

    This is just my insight, the insight of one person in this world, you may or may not agree with it… but these are the experiences that have shaped my opinions and thoughts. Oh, and by the way… it is cheaper to live in Finland than Madrid… though Paris, London, Venice are much more expensive than Spain. (Well it all has changed a bit since the crisis too)

    As a final thought, this time i mean it by being final! hahaha, let’s stop whining about who knows less and let’s educate ourselves! Encourage the young with intellectually stimulating activities, and research on your own… you’ll never know everything… but \EL SABER NO OCUPA LUGAR\.: KNOWLEDGE DOESN’T TAKE UP SPACE. And I include myself this in this category… i should read more.

    Comment by Estefanía — May 31, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

  45. Very interesting blog! I do believe that some of the comments regarding Americans lacking knowledge about European nations is somewhat true. Although I do know many fellow Americans who are quite knowledgeable about other nations and continents. So to generalize and say that all Americans are ignorant and self-centered is absurd. It would be more appropriate to say that they simply have no interest in other countries or cultures. That is unfortunate. Personally, I find it intriguing and enjoy learning about this great world that we live in and its diverse population.

    We actually have a globe in our home and frequently reach for it when watching television to locate the nation being viewed in the news or movies.

    I’m sure that there are numerous Europeans who also lack interest in America. To call them ignorant is misguided. I think it comes down to an individuals interests, and those do change over time.

    Comment by Patricia — June 12, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

  46. I am from Italy , and I am sad to say that American got 95% of this right about Europe!

    Comment by lori — July 1, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  47. > Scandinavia is a country, and they speak a language called Slavic.

    Comment by Sclandi — July 10, 2009 @ 11:30 am

  48. […] continue […]

    Pingback by What Do Americans think of The Europeans ? | Traveling and Tourism Guide at TravelZones.net — July 19, 2009 @ 7:00 am

  49. @Ray The Money Man:

    It is normal for Americans to feel that way. When you are to dumb to set up a decent educational system and you rely on someone else to do all your thinking for you, you will always be bitter and hold a grudge against the people doing your job better than you, like Indians replacing all the doctors, and Honda and Toyota beating the car industry. I understand that Americans are dumb, so I don’t dislike them for it. Just feel bad for them.


    Comment by Bij Lobith komt de Rijn Ons Land — August 6, 2009 @ 5:26 am

  50. Please, don’t feel bad for us. Americans are not dumb.
    We are just not as smart as you think you are.

    Comment by bgc — August 12, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

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