Bulls, balls and economic crisis: study measures Spain’s image abroad

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Renaud LEON/flickr


ASK any Brit, German or American to describe Spain, and bullfighting, football and sun-soaked beaches are sure to spring to their minds immediately. But these days, financial crisis also holds a strong influence over people’s thoughts of the country.

The latest Spanish Image Barometer study by the Elcano Royal Institute asked people in the UK, US, Germany, France, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia, Morocco and Algeria for their views of Spain to get an idea of how the country’s image abroad has changed since 2012.

While bulls and the beautiful game were what people interviewed most immediately associated with Spain, followed by sunshine, popular cities and tourism, old stereotypes of flamenco and siestas were mentioned less often and the financial crisis was repeatedly noted.

Europeans said they considered Spain to be a sunny country with a good climate, plenty of tourism and lots of fiestas, yet many in France and Germany spoke of the social and economic problems the country is currently facing.

Meanwhile in Asia and America, football and bulls were almost all that sprang to mind.

Notable differences were found between answers given in Morocco and Algeria. While Moroccans mentioned the crisis before anything else, Algerians hardly mentioned it at all.

When asked to mark the country out of 10, those in Morocco gave lower points while Mexicans and Brazilians gave the highest, with the overall average being 6.9.

Notably, people in Germany only gave their own country better marks than they gave Spain.

Overall, the highest valued aspect of Spain was its tourist attractions, followed by sports and Spanish cities, while the economy and politics came last.

Spain was seen as a traditional country, which inspires confidence, is democratic, hard-working, urban, strong, peaceful, religious and tolerant.

Regardless of the negative image of corruption within the country, two thirds of those questioned outside Spain defined it as an honest country.

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