No matter where they live in the world, most people have specific views on other countries. These views can be influenced by many possible factors, from the actions of a country's government or military to its dominant culture and religion or even the behavior of its tourists. These views can also be positive or negative. Some countries are generally well liked around the globe, some are simply accepted, and some are actively disliked—even hated.
However, exactly which countries are the most loved or hated varies greatly as one travels around the globe. While no definitive, data-based list of the most hated countries in the world exists, by combining reports and public opinion surveys on the subject from all around the globe, certain trends definitely emerge.
The Top Three Most Hated Countries in the World (random order):
Three countries in particular stand out as the most hated in the world: China, Russia, and the United States. It is worth noting that these are also three of the world's largest countries and greatest superpowers, which contributes significantly to their lack of popularity. The numerous citizens of each of these countries often have a dim view of the other two countries, and all three nations are known to insert themselves in the economic, political, and military affairs of smaller countries, which inspires additional loathing.
The Top 15 Most Hated Countries in the World (loose order):
|Saudi Arabia||Israel||North Korea|
Profiles of the World's Most Hated Countries
For many people, Russia is the world’s most hated country. However, Russia doesn’t seem to worry about that reputation, as current President Vladimir Putin continues his imperialistic effort to reunite the former Soviet republics into a single nation.
Russia is quick to engage in military conflict with other nations—particularly those with which it shares a border, and typically acts as a bullish aggressor. The country's 2022 invasion of Ukraine stands as a strong example. Russia is also known for its alliances with other frequently disliked nations and dictators, such as Syria's Bashar al-Assad and North Korea's Kim Jong-un (from whom Russia purchased weapons and ammo in 2022), which does little to bolster its image.
Russia is particularly disliked in the United States, for reasons including its involvement in the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, and also for its interference in the 2016 presidential election via hacking and social media disinformation campaigns. The Russian government is also known for severely restricting both personal rights and freedoms and democracy as a whole.
China may be the most hated country in the world. Only slightly less imperialistic than Russia, China is similarly ruled by an authoritative regime—one that is arguably even more oppressive and controlling.
Hatred for China's government stems from a vast range of causes.
- The government controls many businesses and there are frequent reports of corruption; forced labor; "sweat shops"; and products made using cheaper, but unhealthy or toxic materials.
- China is also the world's largest polluter and emitter of the greenhouse gas CO₂ by a huge margin.
- China's government refuses to grant independence to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau and interferes with any attempt by Taiwan to establish political sovereignty and join the United Nations.
- China has also been accused of "debt trap diplomacy" in which it loans developing countries money they are unlikely to be able to repay and in exchange gain undue political influence over that country.
- The internet is very heavily censored.
- Human rights are routinely suppressed. For example, free speech and worker's rights are both oppressed, and those arrested are pushed through a legal system that lacks due process.
- The government is arguably committing genocide against the Uyghur people.
- Finally, Yulin, China is the home of the annual Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, a public image disaster which many Westerners and animal lovers in general find barbaric.
While this country's appearance on the "most hated" list may surprise many Americans, few Asians or Europeans will bat an eyelash. As with China and Russia, a major cause of the animosity directed toward the US is the country's tendency to overstep when trying to influence international events in a way that benefits the US.
The US frequently sends troops into other countries (Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq etc.) for reasons that are often criticized by people in other countries. It has also been known to throw its weight around politically, and what seems like leadership to the US and its allies can look like oppression or bullying to people in other countries—particularly if that leadership involves supporting questionable regimes in oil-rich countries.
US culture is also occasionally ridiculed for various reasons:
- Deep and increasingly hostile political division between liberals and conservatives
- Americans' willingness to place full faith in clearly biased media sources or politicians
- A perception that Americans tend to assume America is the world leader in most every category
- The country's slow and fumbled response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Americans' love of firearms and fast food
- The country's lack of progress (and sometimes regression) in areas such as support for LGBTQ+ people, the environment, race and gender issues, gun regulation, income inequality, health care, and democratic government
- A perceived sense of entitlement among Americans
This oil-rich country is ruled by an authoritarian, dictatorial government whose policies are based upon a strict, violent, and misogynistic interpretation of Muslim doctrine. Human rights and especially female rights are notably repressed in Saudi Arabia.
- The country declined to sign the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Capital punishment is legal and frequently used to punish crimes ranging from murder to adultery and apostasy (leaving the church).
- Police and other security forces are reputed to abuse and torture suspects in order to extract confessions—or to simply remove opposition, as in the case of tortured and murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi
- Homosexuality is punishable by death, and LGBTQ+ rights in general are among the worst in the world
- It is legal to force a person to adopt the Muslim faith (and to execute them for leaving that faith)
- Females have very few rights. They are legally treated similarly to minors and are almost completely controlled by their husbands. Women could not vote until a 2011 declaration from the king, did not have the right to drive or get an education without male permission until 2018, and were not given the legal right to decline a marriage—viewed as a contract between the woman's father and her prospective husband—until 2005
- Domestic violence against wives and children was legal until 2013
- The country still, as of late 2022, has no law against spousal or statutory rape. Further, rape victims themselves may be jailed for offenses that include being in the presence of an unrelated male or dressing too provcatively
- Rape victims may be stoned to death for bringing shame upon their families
Saudi Arabia is also often accused of being an incubator for terrorism, being the birthplace of terrorist groups including ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. The country is also highly militarized, and has been accused of war crimes during its 2015 action against Yemen.
North Korea is disliked largely due to its authoritative government's oppression of its own citizenry and at times peculiarly aggressive international policies. Ruled by third-generation dictator Kim Jong-un, North Korea wields tremendous control over its citizens' lives and may have the worst human rights record in the world—however, it's difficult to be sure because the country is also easily the most secretive in the world.
All media in North Korea is state-controlled: TVs and radios may only broadcast government-approved content, their devices cannot access the world wide web (only the government-controlled intranet), North Korean phones cannot call internationally, and international communications are jammed. However, the information that does leak out depicts a brutally repressed country.
People in Korea are assigned their jobs by the government, and have no say in their profession or position. Distribution of food is regulated, and serious shortages are an ongoing concern. No one is allowed to leave the country without difficult-to-obtain government permission. People can be arrested for arbitrary reasons and are commonly denied due process of law, even turned into unofficial slaves in labor camps. North Korean females are reportedly the frequent targets of sexual assault, particularly from males in power. Yet, despite widespread poverty, the country spends much of its sparse income on military development, including a nuclear weapons program.
The only Jewish-majority country in the world, Israel is a Middle Eastern country locked in a territorial dispute with the Muslim-majority country Palestine over territory that is sacred to both countries' dominant religions. As a result, Israel is hated by a great many Muslims all over the world.
Israel is also often accused of using its biggest supporter, the United States, as an enabler for unsavory conduct. For example, Israel has been criticized for its handling of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, its treatement of Palestinian refugees, its habit of using "targeted killings" to eliminate individuals (usually Palestinians) it deems a threat to its security, and its secretive stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
There are a number of reasons why Pakistan is considered a hated country, starting with the fact that it is one of the few Middle Eastern countries to have access to nuclear weapons. Moreover, the country is considered a haven for terrorism, and groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda routinely participate in bombings and other militant attacks that kill thousands of people annually.
Law enforcement in Pakistan is rarely held accountable for human rights violations, and people are frequently sentenced to death after secretive and questionable court proceedings. Pakistan is often accused of systemic oppression of and violence against women, as well as many minorities such as religious minorities, transgender individuals, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. The government also opposes free speech and may arrest those who attempt to speak out against it.
As with Pakistan and Israel, those who hate Iran typically cite its vast list of human rights abuses and tendency "stir the pot" against countries whose religions clash with its own as causes. Further, Iran is often accused of sponsoring terrorism. Also, there is significant concern that the country could secretly divert assets from its fledgling nuclear energy program into the development of nuclear weapons (or that it has already done so).
Iraq and Iran may be tied when it comes to the next level of threat of hate in the global community. The terrorist group ISIS/ISIL, which was founded in Iraq, is a major cause for that animosity. While the government in Iraq is known as an authoritarian dictatorship with its own long record of human rights abuses, ISIS commits even more offenses, from mass executions of civilians to car-bomb attacks and using captives as human shields.
Iraq, of course, was previously ruled by Saddam Hussein, whose list of violations included state terrorism, ethnic cleansing and genocide, assassinations, lawless secret police, lawless imprisonment and torture, and more.
The United Kingdom and France
Surprise entries on some lists of most hated countries, both the UK and France were quite colonial in centuries past, and conquered many nations and civilizations all around the globe. When that happened, the conquered countries were often exploited, with the ruling country extracting wealth, natural resources, and even people from their new territories. While the days of globe-spanning empires are long passed, there are those who still hate the countries for it.
Germany and Japan
While few people could find negative things to say about modern Germany and Japan, the countries' histories linger in the minds of those who remember World War I and World War II. Germany served as the instigator for both wars, and was particularly brutal in WWII, employing concentration camps and ethnic cleaning to a harrowing extent.
Similarly, Japan is only truly hated by one single country—China—as a result of Japan's treatment of the Chinese during WWII. However, because that one single country has more citizens than any other country in the world, Japan makes the "most-hated" list.