What Europeans think of each other

This is a basic backgrounder for Americans, primarily, who might think Europeans do nothing all day but bitch about Americans. Don’t get me wrong—they do love bitching about Americans. But they also like bitching about each other, as well. Bordering countries, especially, have complex caricatures of each other, even when an outsider might think they’re more or less the same. The following is based on my numerous interactions with Europeans, having lived there for 4 years. Here’s a run down:

The French — Disliked by some Spanish (particularly the Catalonians), for being arrogant. One woman from Barcelona told me, “Come on, who really likes the French? Nobody!” The Swiss don’t like the fact that they have contempt for authority and are lazy. The Brits, of course, have the most mixed feelings about the French, though. One half the country hates them, the other half loves them. Those that hate the French tend to like the Americans, and vice versa. In the UK, they’re considered stinky, rude (they never line/queue up like decent people), and a bit yellow, based on their tendency to not fend off invaders like the Nazis.The French, in turn, dislike the British, look down on Belgians for being stupid, and don’t have much to say, in my experience, about Spaniards or Germans (oddly).

The Italians — Most of the stereotypes are positive, but mostly because of the food. Northern Europeans consider them lazy and flaky, and maybe incapable of managing anything right (mostly because of the 50+ governments they’ve had since WW2). One Dutch professor I had dismissed another Italian one, saying, “All the Italians care about are pasta and mamma.”Italians, in turn, don’t have strong feelings about other Europeans, but within Italy, the north-south divide is pretty strong. Northern Italians continuously complain that Southerners are lazy and unproductive, while Southerners complain that Northerners are devoid of culture or joie de vivre.

The Germans — Germans are considered industrious but uptight and humorless, by just about all the other Europeans. They know WW2 is a sore spot for them, so other Europeans will often mercilessly tease them about it. As much as Germany is considered an economic powerhouse, the vast majority of Europeans don’t really want to learn German or study there (or send their kids there to study). The food is considered uninspired, too, and only Berlin has some cachet among younger Europeans for its vibrant underground club scene. The most anti-German sentiments are among the Dutch and Danish, who just hate them from invading their countries too often. When German ask for directions in Holland, they’re usually given directions to the shortest way out of the country, or told “Give us back our bikes!”, a reference to the fact that Germans confiscated Dutch bicycles during WW2.Danes hate it when you pronounce their capital as “ko-pen-HAH-gen”, because this is the German pronunciation. Either pronounce it the English way (with “HAY” instead), or the Danish way, which is literally impossible to put down here.Germans tend to like their Western neighbors far more than they are liked by them, but they look down on their Eastern neighbors, particularly Poles. They, oddly, have some mixed respect for the Czechs, who have resisted German aggression.

The Scandinavians — Widely respected by most other Europeans, because of their high standard of living …and blond hair and blue eyes. However, within Scandinavia there are some persistent stereotypes. The Norwegians, Danes and Finns all think the Swedes are stupid and uptight. Norwegians are considered racist. Danes are considered more blunt than the others, maybe a bit more cranky, and the Finns are oddly introverted, even by Scandinavian standards. Except for the Danes really disliking Germans, and Finns really disliking Russians, they don’t really have anything against other Europeans.

The Belgians — Considered idiots by both the Dutch and the French. Belgians, in turn, consider the Dutch to be a bunch of cranky assholes, and French stuck-up.

The Dutch — The Dutch, like the Scandinavians, have an enviable economy and social order that’s admired by southern European countries. However, they do have a reputation of being self-righteous “know-it-alls” and very similar to their German cousins in terms of their rigidity. But they do not like any comparisons to Germans, and if you remind them that the Dutch national anthem makes a reference to the Dutch being “van Duitse bloed” (from German blood), you might quickly get the silent treatment. The Dutch are also disliked for being the biggest misers in Europe, and because of this they incur the wrath of the tourist industry wherever they travel. The Dutch have been known to stock up on water before they take their campers down to the south of France.The Dutch, in turn, kind of look down on just about everyone. Yes, there’s a bit of a reason for the “know-it-all” smart-ass reputation they have.

The Swiss — Considered extremely rigid, even by the Germans. Blunt to the point of being rude, the Swiss probably have the least likely reputation for being characterized as “friendly” or “warm”. Note that there is a big cultural divide between French-speaking Swiss, and the German-speaking Swiss. The former are almost exactly like the French, except having a blander cuisine and more respect for authority, the latter being more like the Germans except even more stiff, rigid and cranky. However, everyone knows Switzerland “works” so the fact that foreigners comprise 20% of the population (mostly from EU member states) should make this clear.Note that the German-speaking Swiss also speak their own variant of German, which sounds very strange if you’ve only been exposed to standard “hoch-Deutsch”.

The Spaniards — Honestly, very little antagonism against the Spanish or by the Spanish. No one really seems to dislike them, and they don’t seem to really dislike anyone else. (Yes, some Spaniards near the border to France don’t like the French very much) Not entirely sure why. However, God forbid you speak Spanish with a Latin American accent — there is still a lot of snobbery among Spaniards towards Latin Americans. Spaniards consider themselves white and European, and would be deeply insulted if you suggested they were Latin American of any kind.

The Greeks — Only nominally considered European by other Europeans, but the Greeks fiercely identify as European. Naturally, this is a huge irritant to Greeks.

The Poles — Not much seems to register about Poland and the Poles except that they’re quiet. They are a relatively big country (40 million people) so the supposed scare of being overrun by Eastern Europeans when a bunch of Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2005 focused in on the Poles. The Germans really don’t like Poles, and among Germany’s 9 neighbors, are disliked the most. Poland is considered a country of car thieves by the Germans. Really, the relationship between Germany and Poland is similar to that of the United States and Mexico, and often for many of the same reasons (differences in income, history of war, different languages, etc.).Poles really shore up their hatred for their eastern & southern neighbors, primarily Russia and Ukraine, although they don’t like Czechs, Slovaks or Lithuanians either. Oddly, they don’t really mind the Germans, and probably still fear them a bit — you never, ever hear jokes about Germans in Poland.

The Czechs — Considered a relatively bright spot of Eastern Europe by Western Europeans, but I think primarily because Prague is such a gorgeous city and a popular tourist destination. Czechs are a bit like Germans, though — a bit rude, blunt, and cold. Poles don’t have much good to say about them.

The Austrians — Considered a mix of the best & worst aspects of Germany and the Balkans, Austrians are considered laid-back but very nationalistic and racist. They’re said to be the birthplace of Hitler, but never came around to being fully apologetic about the Holocaust (unlike Germany). Neutral feelings from most ofWestern Europe, negative feelings from Germans (who consider them backwards, and not always the representing the best image of German-speaking people) and admired by Eastern Europeans (a throwback to the Hapsburgs).

The British – About half of the British would be really angry at being called European, so that should provide an apt starting point. The main beef with the Brits is that they’re considered the lapdog of the U.S., and are anti-European because the U.S. tells them to be so. They are considered polite, but maybe a bit two-faced (hence “Janus Britain”) and snobby. The Scots and Welsh are tolerated and liked, inasmuch as that no one really knows too much about them outside the UK, but the English are those that bear the brunt of negative sentiments among other Europeans. After all, London is in England.
The English also have a poor reputation in tourist traps, such as Amsterdam and Ibiza, for being loud-mouthed, obnoxious drunks.
The English, in turn, really seem to hate everyone. This is because it’s pretty hard to find an Englishman that has even, at best, neutral opinions about other Europeans (or Americans, or other nationalities). Europe is full of English expats, and the longer they live abroad, the more they seem to hate their host country. And yet they never seem to want to move home.

The Irish — A very small country, despite its exaggerated importance in Americans’ minds (just over 4.6 million in the Republic of Ireland) but considered polite and humble. They nominally dislike the English, but I have yet to meet an Irishman who really loathes the English. The sentiments towards the Irish and by the Irish seem to be positive, overall.
I personally don’t know much about how the Portuguese, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, and others are perceived, or how they perceive others, but if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below.

I’ll leave you with this poster I saw in an Italian office years ago, that helps sum it up in some ways:

In Heaven…

  • the mechanics are German
  • the chefs are French
  • the police are British
  • the lovers are Italian
  • and everything is organized by the Swiss.

In Hell…

  • the mechanics are French
  • the police are German
  • the chefs are British
  • the lovers are Swiss
  • and everything is organized by the Italians.

Update: Here’s my follow-up after this post got an avalanche of traffic and comments.

Another update: Here’s a related post on what Americans think about Europeans.

And another: 20 ways to slice up Europe.

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  1. Hello LOgOzz
    Would be great to know where you originate from and I can see you are a very angry MAN? Don’t think a woman would have such a weird name,. Sorry you hate me, sorry you hate my country, if only I knew where you came from we could have a debate without all the swearing and crudeness. Anyway as a woman probably old enough to be your mother, it’s just a shame that she didn’t give you a few more manners.
    Just to say that a United Ireland will never happen (it’s called religion, look around the world, all the wars caused by religion) and the Republic can’t even turn up to Parliament even though getting paid) even the Priest at the young reporter’s funeral who was recently shot shamed them all that they can sit at a funeral together but can’t GET TOGETHER and unite as a country.
    I’ll leave it there LOG, because as you call me ignorant what can I say, look in the mirror!
    Your arrogant post above sums you up.
    Have a nice day, as the Americans would sayxxx???. Peace and love and all that.?

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — August 23, 2019 @ 1:18 am

  2. I am Bulgarian and to me and some Bulgarians “European” is an insult. European are rightfully seen as rude, arrogant, cold and introverted. Polish and Russians are seen as drunks and their women as easy. I live the Americans and New World and East Asian people as they’re extroverted and friendly.

    Comment by Jake Ryan — September 29, 2019 @ 2:10 pm

  3. Hello Mr. Bulgarian. Just to say I live with 3 Bulgarian families around me, not to mention Lithuanian and Polish. When I say good morning to the Bulgarians they ignore me, don’t even smile, and one mother seems to delight in shouting and screaming and dragging her children around, poor kids, she’s just had her third baby in England and they wonder why we don’t have enough housing or school places.
    As to Poles, well my friend lives next door to a Polish couple who told them when they were visiting Poland shortly don’t expect people to smile or acknowledge you, that’s how they are.
    As to Americans, I lived in NYC for 7 years and that city is certainly not friendly, probably like most capital cities. Go out into the other areas and you will find it different.
    What is the New World? Wish we had one as this one is going downhill rapidly.
    Europeans like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese …Mediterranean countries …how can you call them introverted!!

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — September 30, 2019 @ 1:31 am

  4. Unlike most Bulgarians I dislike Russians, they have great culture but are cold (introverted and reserved) people that never smile. As to what cultures/people I like? Irish, Portuguese, some Spaniards (mostly Southern) and South Italians. Australians/NZs, North and South Americans as well – more or less all the extroverted societies. From the more shy/introverted societies I like Hungarians, and East Asians (Chinese, Japanese and South Korean).

    Physically I like Scandinavians and their natures, but I think they’re too stoic, reserved and introverted as people (also their new architecture looks too white and minimalist/bland, I prefer colors!). I used to like Poland, but after meeting Polish people I think most are not very nice and again new Polish architecture is too sterile and bland/gray. They’re definitely nicer than the Czechs though (Czechs, especially in Prague are too cold/rude). Slovaks are relatively friendly, but Hungarians act friendlier to me, we just get on well better. And they have like the best cuisine in Central Europe and the best new architecture there, too.

    Comment by Jake Ryan — September 30, 2019 @ 4:58 am

  5. Jake Ryan.
    Just wondered how many of the countries above you have been to, and have you ever been to the U.K.?
    Sometimes we get a vibe about a certain country’s people when we have never visited that country.
    One thing is for sure, the Parisians are hated worldwide, if there are any true ones left.. and. even Brigitte Bardot (famous French actress of the past) asked what has happened to her country.
    Don’t think you much immigration to E.European countries and the Hungarian President won’t even allow them in and he’s a member of the EU. Also in Poland hardly any wanted, but they don’t mind coming over my way.

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — October 1, 2019 @ 12:44 am

  6. Yes, I’ve been to the UK, I stayed with a local family that b*tched about how my people will steal their jobs lol. I’ve also been to France (Paris), and surprisingly loved it there, but I generally find the French insufferable even when they are abroad. Slovakia, Czechia, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, and Hungary. Slovaks and Hungarians are the most earthy people I’ve experienced. Generally, French, English, Portuguese and Spanish speakers from the New Word societies (N and South America and Asia) are friendlier than their “Old World” analogues. Probably Portugal people are as friendly as Brazilians, but for the rest Latin and North Americans are friendlier.

    Comment by Jake Ryan — October 4, 2019 @ 8:56 am

  7. Jake Ryan, with an English/Irish/American name, yet Bulgarian?
    You seem to have met the world so obviously know more than me, even though I’ve travelled far and lived in South Africa, Spain, Italy and America. but you can never generalise a country until you have met the people, not just a few.

    Comment by Sandra Johnstone — October 5, 2019 @ 7:39 am

  8. Fresh bacon at the morning !

    Comment by Warren Roussell — December 1, 2019 @ 8:07 am

  9. When was this written? I know in the 80s and the 90s still existed some racist hate towards Latin Americans in Spain but as an spaniard I can say that’s not so common now. I personally love Latin Americans, especially Mexicans and Angertinians. Our real problem is half of us loves any other country but their own and the other half loves themselves too much, and our History plus our current personal problems don’t help feeling otherwise.

    Comment by Noelia — January 7, 2020 @ 11:40 am

  10. France has a great culture, the UK has left the EU

    Comment by adob — January 18, 2021 @ 4:30 am

  11. Oh us Poles really don’t like Germans and make fun of them very often for being rigid, dull, ugly, badly dressed, having horrible food, language, ugly women, weird sexual quirks etc. And we of course envy their economic standing which we perceive as historical injustice. And we know they don’t like us either. But our economies are closely tied, many of us work there. It’s like an old marriage, were you hate each other and you honestly don’t remember otherwise, but there seems to be no alternative to being together so you just accept it as is. Oh and we don’t fear them a bit, there is nothing worse they can do to top what they already did.
    We mostly like Czechs though they don’t seem to return the feeling.
    Russia is universally hated and with passion (though we tend to separate Russian state from Russian people which many of us like). But in our daily lives we choose to pretend Russia does not exist.
    Attitude towards Ukraine is mixed, some people hate them, mostly the ones whose families were subject to genocide from Ukrainian nationalists. No one really has any strong feelings about Lithuania or Slovakia. Oh and we love our Hungarian brothers.

    Comment by T — May 31, 2021 @ 2:46 pm

  12. @T well I’ve been to Poland several times and you ppl aren’t pretty either lmao. You make those kinds of jokes and then whine about jokes from us. Light jokes are ok but it’s so weird how we apparently live in your heads rent free if you’re that obsessed with literally everything about us. Yk you’re not only known for stealing things, but also for being obdessed with the church and christianity. Especially after y’all introduced lgbt-free zones.

    Comment by Leo — June 3, 2021 @ 7:53 am

  13. “Sometimes we get a vibe about a certain country’s people when we have never visited that country.”
    And this vibe, or rather gut feeling is most often correct. It’s all based on AstroCartoGraphy and Local Space lines, your place and time of birth matters for how you’re going to experience a place.

    I cried when I learned the good news I’m accepted at uni in the Netherlands. Turns out the NL is right on my Pluto line, which is bad, very bad I tell you. I’m still recovering from the devastating effects. I couldn’t function at that place. It’s a nice country but every food item felt like poison to my body. I couldn’t eat anything at all!

    Another example – a Moon IC line in Slovakia. I loved it more than the Netherlands, food didn’t act like poison to me. Made more friends for a year there than for several years in the Netherlands. Yet, since my Moon is in its fall in the chart it was too moody/emotional to stay there for longer. I will get back one day as a tourist though, not so in the NL. I even cried when the bus left Slovakia.

    I fell in love with Balaton in Hungary, turns out a Venus local space line emanates from my home city towards it!

    I like Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Hungary, Slovakia, Western Bohemia in Czech Republic. Turns out all of them have good aspects and local space lines emanating from my birth city towards them.

    Comment by Yasen — June 6, 2021 @ 9:07 am

  14. “the chefs are French”
    Hmmm I like frogs’ legs and snails but really? Their cuisine is not that tasty (it’s fancy-looking, I give them that!), compared to Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Portugal, Turkish, Georgian, Armenian and even Slovak food. I don’t care about looks and posh restaurants, I prefer taste and the tastiest cuisines in Europe for me are in the Eastern Mediterranean, Portugal, Caucasus, and Slovakia. Yes, this little country of Slovakia has lots of tasty dishes such as Treska v mayoneze aka Cod with mayo salad or the Bryndzove halusky!.

    Comment by Yasen — June 6, 2021 @ 9:16 am

  15. This was a great read, and quite accurate I’d say overall. I’m an American expat who has lived in Prague, CZ for last 10 years. The Czechs are a semi-autistic lot, sullen, gloomy, introverted, and generally anti-social. This country is the antithesis of outgoing, sociable, and extrovert. It is considered rude inappropriate behavior to speak to strangers in this country unless absolutely necessary. If you try to speak to people on a tram, bus or metro in Prague they will consider you crazy. They are also ‘space assholes’: they will not move to the right on the sidewalk to let you pass, or generally make any effort to share the pavement to allow the ongoing pedestrian to pass. If they are walking in group of friends or family, they will invariably occupy the entire width of the pavement and force you off the pavement to pass them, or play ‘chicken’ to see who will finally move at last moment. On the flip side, the way that they ignore each other has a silver lining in that they tend to live and let live, are not nosy spies on neighbors like the Canadians who love to snitch on each other to police. This is certainly to their credit 🙂

    Comment by Deschutes — July 5, 2021 @ 7:36 am

  16. Belgians also hate eachother regionale. Its not two language groups as much opposed to eachother as the resentment is regionally especially in the north as a lot of people have French ancestry there but in antwerp, Limburg and surroundings they’re ethnically culturally a bit closer to holland and germanic culture.

    Comment by Savoirrien — August 5, 2021 @ 12:19 pm

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