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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974 Comments »

  1. Best ever slagging off of a German:

    German pilot, German airline, German airport: Asks tower a question in German.

    Tower (in English): If you want an answer you must ask in English.

    German: Im German, in Germany, flying a German plane.. why do I have to speak English?

    English pilot: Because you lost the bloody war…

    Gotta laff! 🙂

    Comment by isabella snow — September 25, 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  2. Ha ha, that’s a good one! I’m afraid we’ll all be enjoying jokes like that one at the Germans’ expense for quite some time. 😉

    Comment by JM — September 26, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  3. Greetings from an English teacher! Nice writeup about What Europeans think of each other. I would have to agree with you on this one. I am going to look more into live abroad. This Saturday I have time.

    Comment by Emily M. — September 29, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  4. Hope you consider living abroad, even for a while. It’s an eye-opening experience – truly changes you forever.

    Comment by JM — September 30, 2007 @ 9:49 pm

  5. I’m Dutch, and come to think of it, you’re quite right about us, although it’s a little old fashioned. It’s said that we also pile up whole bags of potatoes and brown beans before going on vacation in France, with our caravans. 🙂 Germans also ‘hate’ us for just those things, ’cause it slows them down on the Autobahn. The other day, when I was in Germany the first German I met asked where I parked my “wohnwagen”. Gotta love ’em for that. hehehe. (no I don’t have one).

    By the way, in Germany you don’t have a maximum speed on the highway, which is why we Dutch like them too. On the other hand, when the Germans come to visit our beaches, they tend to dig holes in them, to sit in and drink their own beer. We like to make fun of that too, ’cause: WHY DIG A HOLE IN THE BEACH? Maybe it’s their trench war instinct ;-).

    Nice article! Fun read.

    Comment by tgm3 — February 19, 2008 @ 8:26 pm

  6. My Dad used to say “the Wogs begin at Calais” but he was a bit of a racist and a WW2 vet. I was born in England my Mum is a Scot my Dad was of Irish descent and our last name is Welsh in origin so go figure. That’s probably why I live in he States and try to get along with everyone, even the French.

    Comment by john — February 19, 2008 @ 9:35 pm

  7. I’m from Germany, have been to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Holland, France, Italy, England, Czech, Hungary and Portugal and met many people from other European countries. And I must say, you are right on spot. Funny read 🙂
    (Of course, not everybody is like that, but you got the tendencies right.)

    Comment by Lars Pohlmann — February 19, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

  8. That’s a great article on stereotyping Europeans. It’s certainly a fact that by traveling across Europe wich I have done myself you gain more respect for fellow Europeans. Something we should all do, traveling broadens your horizon 🙂

    Comment by Belgian living in Thailand — February 19, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

  9. A couple of friends of mine who are Spanish sociologists were over for dinner the other night and they were talking about the time the spent in Portugal. The most striking characteristic (to their minds) was how the Portuguese have an incredibly strong tie their history – namely their long-defunct empire. Numerous anecdotes, such as the Weather Reporter who after giving the forecast in the Azores and Cape Verde always says, and now the forecast on the “Continent” – referring to Portugal. Their TV is rife with documentaries talking about their glorious past, you can never have a conversation with a native without somehow turning to historical battles won by the Portuguese, how Portugal extended its global empire, etc. Think of in these terms: You in Portugal: “Please pass the salt”; Random Portuguese: “That reminds me of the famous battle of Carrimbe, where the brave Portuguese fleet defeated the Dutch and won Macao. You get the picture.

    They also said the Portuguese are extremely proper in how they speak to people and generally very polite. An old world charm, so to speak 🙂

    Oh, and they hate the Spanish, who as a whole tend to be quite a bit louder and ruder than the Portuguese.

    Comment by Jorge — February 19, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

  10. what a piece of crap!
    the spaniards are disliked else and everywhere, for being the stupid and arrogants -not to mention completely racists-, beasts they are!

    Comment by Jordan — February 19, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

  11. Whahahaha i’m Dutch and it’s so bloody true! The whole list. Though you forgot the Portugese, but hey! We all tend to forget about them. Swiss isn’t the European Union and so not considered European.

    We don’t really consider the Belgiums as idiots. We like to make fun of them but as friends. We are not hostile towards eachother.

    The Spanish have a good reputation. It’s true they don’t work hard. But that’s the same for all the countries south of Belgium and Germany. Spanish are known as cheerfull and enjoying life. We from the north can’t stand their culture where they take Siesta for a couple of hours during the day! Where i’m form you work the day and sleep the night.

    French are also considered kind of cowards, for there role in the war (the collaborated), very rude. And refuse to speak any other language then French.

    Hey i’m Dutch so i have to be a smartass, kind of…:)

    Comment by Stephen — February 19, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  12. Even better slagging off of an arrogant German ground controller at Frankfort International Airport. This airport has a confusing layout, calling for careful taxi-ing of your jet liner. This is compounded by their notoriously impatient and rigid ground controllers, who expect you to know how to get around to your gate without assistance. This exchange was between Frankfort ground control and a British Airways 747 with the call sign of Speedbird 206.

    Speedbird 206: “Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway.”

    Ground: “Speedbird 206, taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven.”

    The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.

    Ground: “Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?”

    Speedbird 206: “Stand by Ground, I’m looking up our gate location now.”

    Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): “Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before!?”

    Speedbird 206 (cooly): “Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark…….and I didn’t land.”

    Comment by BBB — February 19, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

  13. Brilliant piece of writing! Im dutch, and work at a holliday park, so i meet a lot of ‘m, and its all true!

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Field — February 19, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  14. i dated a finnish girl, who told me that all finns believe swedes (at least the male ones) to be gay and effeminate

    Comment by matt — February 20, 2008 @ 12:02 am

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  16. The Irish seriously dislike Romainian’s, on account of a lot of gypsies coming here, although they might not be from Romania the general opinion is they all are. Most of the gypsies are very beggers.

    Our only opinion of the Portuguese, Hungarians & Bulgarians are in relation to their football teams.

    And we now have a LOT of Poles here, although we too see them as quiet, and in a way see ourselves from 30 years ago in them.

    Comment by James McCarthy — February 20, 2008 @ 12:06 am

  17. I am german and I do have to chuckle about these jokes.

    also that summary of europe is very accurate. Good job 🙂

    Comment by Farox — February 20, 2008 @ 12:07 am

  18. 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

    Err, you’re mistaken, I’m a “Brit” and I hate both of you.

    Comment by gorgomon — February 20, 2008 @ 12:41 am

  19. Regarding the joke:
    Shouldn’t they be speaking Russian since they lost the war?
    Just saying… Russia did by far most of the fighting.

    Comment by agilman — February 20, 2008 @ 1:08 am

  20. The Portugese hate the Spanish. And the fact that the Portugese also extensively shop in Spain because it’s cheaper there makes them hate the Spanish all the more. The Spanish relationship with the Portugese is somewhat like the English relationship with the Scots or the Irish.

    Comment by GE — February 20, 2008 @ 1:15 am

  21. If anyone has any opinions about where the Portuguese fit in, I’d love to hear them. For business and personal reasons, I seem to have a growing connection with that country but I still don’t have a feel yet for how they fit in with the rest of Europe.

    Comment by cs — February 20, 2008 @ 1:16 am

  22. The Spaniards hate the Portuguese and vice versa (basically the latter never forgave the former for invading them in the 1600s and the Spaniards resent being pushed out). Galicians, while technically part of Spain, feel ambivalent, as linguistically they are closer to Portuguese and isolated overall (much like the Basques).

    Romanians and Hungarians (Magyars) have “issues” as well, based on the minority population of the latter in the former.

    Comment by BNS — February 20, 2008 @ 1:19 am

  23. Ireland has over 6 million people and Northern Ireland (part of the UK, but you didn’t mention them in the section about Britain) has perhaps 2 million people.

    Ireland is of exaggerated importance because the Irish diaspora numbers 80 million and a good portion of that number were immigrants and children of immigrants to the US over the last couple of centuries.

    Comment by elissaF — February 20, 2008 @ 1:21 am

  24. In my dealings with the Icelandic, as well as picking up the general vibe from others in England, it seems most people either don’t know anything about the Icelandic or find them to be somewhat like the Scandinavians, shy but fun and not afraid to be different in a somewhat hip way. In return, they have little hatred for anyone else, although they seem to have this innate, but unspoken, feeling that Iceland is really where all the action is, and that the rest of the world is missing out. Either that, or they really do hate us and don’t act on it at all.. 🙂

    Comment by Peter Cooper — February 20, 2008 @ 1:24 am

  25. Ummm… the Scandinavians are all lumped together, but the biggest omission is Portugal – kind of hard to understand, not exactly a country with little relevance in world history, let alone Europe.

    I’ve found the British part funny, but perhaps lacking in considering the full picture… I’m Welsh though 🙂

    Comment by SL — February 20, 2008 @ 1:24 am

  26. As for the nations you don’t have data on, I can tell you that there’s no love lost between the Romanians and the Hungarians, that’s for sure. The Hungarians, as far as I can tell, consider the Romanians to be a bunch of hicks, and the Romanians return the love by seeing many Hungarians as stuck-up.

    Comment by Derek Lowe — February 20, 2008 @ 1:43 am

  27. I work with a Bulgarian guy. He said that the Bulgarians relate mostly with the Greeks. He likes Russia, and Russians. He hates gypsies. I have not ever heard him say anything bad about other European countries.

    Comment by Dave — February 20, 2008 @ 1:45 am

  28. I’d like to comment on the Poles description (as I’m one of them 🙂

    First of all: we Poles like the Czechs very much, for their humour, great food and general ‘coolness’.
    Slovakians are somewhat neutral.
    We dislike Russians because we think they are thugs and drunkards (although I’ve heard from some Russians that in fact we drink much more).
    We don’t have any strong feelings for the Germans, neither positive nor negative. It’s like we know they are right next to us, but we don’t really want to know them. Although, I must admit, Poles have some respect for the Germans, you can sometimes hear older people saying that when germans occupied Poland there was order (a thing we lack a bit now). Also it is not true that we have no jokes about Germans. There is a whole series of jokes that start with “There was a Pole, Russian and a German…”, in which the German always ends up being the stupidiest.

    Comment by badluck — February 20, 2008 @ 1:47 am

  29. I’ll try to give you some idea about what stereotypes we have in Hungary about others.

    Romans: they steel, they took away Transilvania from us, and one other interesting thing is that everyone except Romanians and Hungarians mix the two capitals, Budapest, and Bucarest.

    Russians: they invided us after WWII for 55 years. Ah, and also in 1956 they came in with the tanks.

    Russians, and Ukrainians are considered to be the maffia in Hungary.

    Croats, Slovens: as far as I know, everyone is OK with them.

    Serbs, Slovaks: they don’t treat the Hungarian minority in their country too well.

    The Austrians: well I think Hungarians admire them, because they were on the other side of the iron-wall, they have higher standard of living.

    When you say in Hungarian “Balkan”, it means chaotic, dirty.

    Comment by Flöcsy — February 20, 2008 @ 1:53 am

  30. > In Hell…
    > * the chefs are British

    Actually, this is one case where the stereotype is flat-out wrong. Many of the best restaurants in the world are in the UK according to food critics. From Wikipedia:

    > In 2005 British cuisine reached new heights when 600 food critics writing for (British) Restaurant magazine named 14 British restaurants among the 50 best restaurants in the world with the number one spot going to The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire and its chef Heston Blumenthal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_cuisine#International_and_fusion_cuisine

    Comment by Jim — February 20, 2008 @ 1:53 am

  31. My Latvian grandparents told me that the way to swear in Latvian is to just say the same word but in German or Russian… i guess because they’ve basically spent most of their histing being occupied by either of those countries.

    Comment by Brent the Closet Geek — February 20, 2008 @ 1:54 am

  32. The Greeks absolutely hate the Turks. Turkey’s isn’t part of the EU but is geographically part of Europe and part of Asia, the border being the Bosphoros / Istanbul Strait
    The Greeks and Italians seem to like each other too.

    The English like the Scots and will most likely support Scotland in an international football match. The Scots dislike England and will most likely support England’s opponent in an international Football match.

    Comment by NR — February 20, 2008 @ 2:26 am

  33. Hi,

    Most Scandinavians that I have talked to do not consider Finland to be a part of Scandinavia (as well as Iceland).

    Comment by Steve — February 20, 2008 @ 2:42 am

  34. Great post, though I’d like to see more about your take on the Balkan countries, considering the wars and rivalries between them are so much more real and recent than the rest of Europe. (And yes, Greece is in the Balkans, but they don’t consider themselves as such 🙂

    Comment by ellie — February 20, 2008 @ 2:47 am

  35. Nice article, Since I am Dutch, I can give some remarks about the Dutch and their position within Europe.

    Things aren’t as sharp as posed in your article and some of it can be categorized as caricature. Europe as such is a balancing act of many culture clashes and the borders are more or less correct according cultural borders, still, people living in borders areas of both neighboring countries share much of their cultures. Political the European borders are more strict than it’s cultural borders.

    For the Netherlands there are 4 main cultural areas, Holland and the southwest share their culture with Flanders (Belgium) but the more north you go in Holland the more anti authorial the people are. I live there, so I know a bit of them, they are mostly attracted to Anglo Saxon culture and somewhat to Francophone culture, we live on the crossroads of 2 cultures, we speak a mixture of Lower Saxon and Lower Frankish, our dialect is imposed on the other parts of the Netherlands as being standard Dutch, we are the most cocky people from the Netherlands, maybe it’s because people from Holland created their own land.
    The second area is Friesland, this is an older culture than the Netherlands exist, they are Anglo Saxon and Scandinavian oriented and because they have to live they are oriented towards Holland, But I am not sure whether they just tolerate us or like us, probably the former, they speak Frisian and Dutch.
    The 3rd area is the eastern part of the Netherlands, this part is oriented towards Germany, they are more rural oriented and tend to rightly mistrust people from Holland because their life speed is slower and people from Holland tend to use their speed to intimidate or conn others, the people east speak Lower Saxon and Dutch. It is also the poorest part of the Netherlands.
    The 4th is Brabant, they share Belgium culture, this is a rural part and was somewhat industrious and second poorest part of the Netherlands, here the people speak Lower Frankish and Dutch. They have the same relation with the people from Holland as the east has.
    The 5th area is Limburg, this used to be a quite large country at it self spanning large areas in Germany and Belgium. They speak as far as I know High Saxon combined with Lower Frankish, and of course Dutch, like others they have to eat and make a living in the Netherlands. I do not know a lot about Limburg culture.

    As far as people from Holland hating Germans, as most from the east don’t hate Germans at all, they share culture more than with people from Holland. The hate is fading here in Holland, we mostly admire Germans for their honesty and hard working, The Netherlands also has the largest economical ties with Germany and then others. In Holland we tend to like Anglo Saxon humor but in other parts of the Netherlands this is different.

    The nice thing of Europe is that what I just wrote down is true for all countries, everywhere you go is a crossroad of cultures, more than you can count. Also culture in Europe goes much deeper than the current political system and will probably survive it too in the long run.

    Comment by Bas — February 20, 2008 @ 2:50 am

  36. Actually heard the “I want my bicycle back” joke in West Flanders (Gent Belgium) in 1989. Plant where I was working had a German contractor working in the control room. Belgian operator said this after German left the room for lunch.

    Another: Why are the avenues in Paris lined with trees? So German soldiers can march in the shade.”

    Bartender at hotel in Gent was very nice to elderly German couple as they returned from dinner. Then, after they disappeared around the corner toward the elevator, he snapped off a Nazi salute at them. heh.

    Descriptions of Belgians, Dutch and English are spot on.

    Comment by Steve — February 20, 2008 @ 2:55 am

  37. The Basque Country in the Pyrenees between France and Spain is probably the biggest reason for tension between the two countries. ETA, the Basque nationalist terror group, are active on both sides of the border, since their historical territory currently falls within both countries. The Spanish side is a bit more lax toward the idea of Basque autonomy, while the French are typically resistant.

    Comment by Jesse — February 20, 2008 @ 3:05 am

  38. I’m amazed that you articulated your observations so well, although I have to disagree with you on the Norwegians, all the ones we know were very friendly (although they have the tendency to be a bit crazy sometime!).

    Comment by Tan — February 20, 2008 @ 3:29 am

  39. You can add that the Swiss think the Austrians are idiots. The jokes about them are available in abundance. Especially in the border regions.
    And the Germans are considered stuck-up. With their nobility titles ‘Von und Zu’. I guess that comes from its founding when they kicked some Habsburgian butt to get their independence.

    Comment by phn — February 20, 2008 @ 3:29 am

  40. Some people think the Portuguese speak Spanish, which really pisses them off because they don’t really like them, perhaps because they are in competition for the quality of oranges, olives and wine and generally lose.

    In the Algarve there are a lot of pale British and German holiday makers – colloquially referred to as ‘bife’, or beef, the colour they go in the sun. They are generally disliked but tolerated because the region relies on tourism. The British expats throughout the country are judged by how well they integrate, which mostly means pretty pooly.

    You are right about the like the French/hate the French divide amongst the English. The likers tend to be the intellectual, upper-middle class liberals who enjoy the sensual language and literature, revere the food and idolise the French country-side and rural way of life. The haters are the bourgeois, Conservative, anti-Europe, middle Englanders, to whom meat and two veg is the right sort of meal for an Englishman, none of that poncy foreign muck thank you very much. You’ll see them reading the Daily Mail and complaining about young people. I dislike them as much as they dislike the French. It’s not that simple though, even though I love French culture and food they’re still a bunch of arrogant cheese-eating bastards.

    Comment by James — February 20, 2008 @ 3:58 am

  41. I’ve got to say those national assessments seem pretty spot on. Germans can be such a stiff, prickly lot but I still like them. Also, I actually really enjoy German cuisine (probably says more about me than German food but, hey… it is good stuff).
    You want lousy cuisine? Go to Finland. I lived there for a year and at one point ate potatoes twice a day for 30 days straight (I was in college at the time but still). Blood sausage? Check. Blood pancakes (yes. they really eat this. I’m not kidding)? Check. Liver casserole (maksalaatikko)? Check! To be fair, Finns are a solid, strong people (and they have awesome salmiakki and koskenkorva. Google them). Certainly I have a positive opinion of them… it’s just… that food.

    Comment by Janus — February 20, 2008 @ 4:08 am

  42. Hah! Exactly right (on perceived stereotypes, that is), at least as far as the ones that I’ve had experience with. One of the jokes I heard about the Finnish while living in Germany:

    How do you tell an extrovert Fin?
    He’s staring at YOUR shoes when he’s talking to you.

    Comment by NM — February 20, 2008 @ 4:29 am

  43. Q. What’s a German without the fantastic sense of humor?
    A. A Swede.

    A few stereotypes to fill the void: Hungarians are incredibly atrocious drivers – aggressive and scary, even if their cars are midget-sized. Romanians are lost in medieval times. Andorra is a giant outlet mall. Spain is 30 different countries waiting to break apart. Swiss hire Germans to be their maids. Germans regard Austrians as a third world country. Danish people are incredibly racist against Eskimos. Iceland has the most beautiful population in the world because they are the descendants of all the hottest women the Vikings kidnapped from every other country in Europe. And Welsh are kind, wise, soulful, sexy, geniuses 🙂

    Comment by Mary M. — February 20, 2008 @ 5:14 am

  44. Another one about the Germans:

    An American pilot was having difficulty following the lights at the Berlin airport; the traffic controler sneeringly asked him if he had ever been to Berlin before. The reply was, “Just twice, in 1944, but I didn’t land.”

    Comment by baddog — February 20, 2008 @ 5:15 am

  45. Hi

    I’m was born in England ( North) of Irish descent and have lived in Australia for many years, when I travel I tend to be a chameleon. So:
    In Aus i’m Australian
    In NZ i’m English
    In Europe i’m Irish
    In northern England i’m English ( northern)
    In southern England I’m Australian
    In Scotland and Wales i’m Australian
    In Canada i’m anything
    In Ireland I’m Irish
    I haven’t been to the US

    Comment by Tony — February 20, 2008 @ 5:15 am

  46. C’mon – Norwegian considered racist? By whom? The rest of scandinavia? And towards whom? I really would like to know this, and how you’ve come up with such an idea.

    Norwegians have jokes about Sweden, and Sweden have jokes about Norway – it’s not racism, it’s mere quarreling between siblings.

    ..the rest of the article is however pretty accurate. Nice observations throughout. (Which is part of the reason I want to know about that racism part – you might just have something; and we might be completely oblivious to it, as we tend to be towards a lot of things 🙂

    Comment by OR — February 20, 2008 @ 5:16 am

  47. That was really entertaining to read. And completly true 🙂

    Comment by cyberfreak77 — February 20, 2008 @ 5:32 am

  48. Unless you’re talking to someone who was over the age of 14 during WWII, you’ve got no business making fun of Germans for what their parents did; *that* is racism.

    Comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky — February 20, 2008 @ 5:41 am

  49. […] What Europeans think of each other @ Dailycandor […]

    Pingback by What Europeans think of each other : ARSCHBRAND — February 20, 2008 @ 5:42 am

  50. […] Read the rest of the post here […]

    Pingback by Daily Candor » What Europeans think of each other — February 20, 2008 @ 6:06 am

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