And the world’s friendliest Romance country is …

Portuguese Dancers

Ola amigos! They’re a friendly bunch. Portuguese dancers (Photo credit: jasewong)

The World Economic Forum’s latest list of the most friendly and unfriendly countries to visit has generated lots of publicity over the past few days. Most newspapers or websites focused on the top 10 and bottom 10 out of the 140 countries featured in the survey, plus of course whatever position their own particular country happened to be in. But it was hard to track down what countries occupied positions 11 to 130. In fact, the “what are the friendliest countries?” list was a minor item in a major report – it was a table on page 445 (yes, 445) of the WEF’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013. The table was headed “Attitude of population toward foreign visitors” and sub-headed: “How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?”


Glum’s the word. People of Bolivia (Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis)

Surveys such as this, no matter how scientific the data, are always subjective and superficial, and don’t forget this was a World Economic Forum survey (if it had been a World Backpacker Forum survey the results would have been very different) but, of course, people still want to read them all the same. So, for the record, Iceland and New Zealand took out the top two places and Venezuela and Bolivia came in at 139 and 140 respectively. (There are all up 196 countries in the world, but some are not politically recognised here and there, so the official count is in dispute). I don’t know why the WEF limited itself to 140.

So how did My Five Romance countries fare? The friendliest one by quite a wide margin was Portugal at No. 7. Parabens, Portugal! (parabens means congratulations).

Spain was ranked 57, Italy and France were quite far down the list at 79 and 80, respectively, while Romania came in at 122.

Happy Canada Day

A cheerful Canadian (Photo credit: Anirudh Koul)

The official and unofficial Francophone countries did much better than their Spanish counterparts. Morocco (3), Senegal (6), Burkino Faso (10), Canada (12), Mali (14), Belgium (19), Rwanda (21), Switzerland (23), Mauritius (28), and Seychelles (29), all came in the top 30, whereas the best the Spanish-speaking world could do was Puerto Rico at 38, Costa Rica at 41, Mexico at 45, and Dominican Republic on 62. Uruguay was ranked 77, beating Chile (84), Colombia (88), El Salvador (90), Peru (96), Guatemala (97), Paraguay (101), Panama (111), Argentina (113), Ecuador  (119) and Honduras (125).

In the Portuguese-speaking world, Brazil made number 43 on the list (it had better improve when it hosts the next World Cup and Olympics) and Cape Verde 71. Mozambique was further back on 91, while Angola was one of the countries that was not featured in the survey.

If you happen to be in Romania and are unhappy with the level of friendliness, you could pop over the border into Moldova, which came almost 30 places ahead at 93 on the list.

The countries where this blog has the most readers are Australia (where I live), the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, so I should mention them. Australia came 27th (New Zealanders will have been guffawing and crowing about that), the UK 55th, Germany 83rd and the US 102nd.

Smiley Face

But basically, no matter where you are in the world, the fact of the matter is that if you are polite, pleasant, patient and generally cheerful with the locals, they will respond by being warm and friendly to you too. Giving a grin gets you so much more than a frown. 🙂


2 thoughts on “And the world’s friendliest Romance country is …

    • Hello, South Africa came in at 42, not bad… Namibia was 85, Mozambique 91, Botswana 103, Zimbabwe 106 and Lesotho 120. Zambia was high up on 34 and Kenya, where I was born, 51. Oh and Ireland was ninth. Angola was not in the survey for some reason

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