The Soft Power 30

Welcome to
The Soft Power 30
A Ranking of Global Soft Power

What is Soft Power?

Power in international relations has traditionally been defined and assessed in easily quantifiable ‘hard’ terms, often understood in the context of military and economic might. Hard power is deployed in the form of coercion, using force, the threat of force, economic sanctions, or inducements of payment.

In contrast to the coercive nature of hard power, soft power describes the use of positive attraction and persuasion to achieve foreign policy objectives.

Soft power eschews the traditional foreign policy implements of carrot and stick, seeking instead to alter the preferences of others by building coalitions, communicating compelling narratives, establishing international norms, and drawing on the resources that endear one country to another.

In short, “hard power is push; soft power is pull”

Joseph Nye, the originator of the term, initially set out three primary sources of soft power as he developed the concept. Nye’s three pillars of soft power are political values, culture, and foreign policy. But within these three categories, the individual sources of soft power are manifold and varied.

Our index builds on those three pillars and draws on metrics from a total of six categories:

Engagement

The strength of a country’s diplomatic network and its contribution to global engagement and development

Culture

The global reach and appeal of a nation’s cultural outputs, both pop-culture and high-culture

Government

Commitment to freedom, human rights, and democracy, and the quality of political institutions

Education

The level of human capital in a country, contribution to scholarship, and attractiveness to international students

Digital

A country’s digital infrastructure and its capabilities in digital diplomacy

Enterprise

The attractiveness of a country’s economic model, business friendliness, and capacity for innovation

Polling

We polled over 7,000 PEOPLE in twenty countries covering each region of the globe.

The Top 10

# COUNTRY SCORE
1. UNITED KINGDOM 75.61
2. GERMANY 73.89
3. UNITED STATES 73.68
4. FRANCE 73.64
5. CANADA 71.71
6. AUSTRALIA 68.92
7. SWITZERLAND 67.52
8. JAPAN 66.86
9. SWEDEN 66.49
10. NETHERLANDS 65.21

FIND OUT MORE

This index was created by Portland, in association with Facebook and ComRes.

To read our findings in full, download our report.

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INDEX RESULTS
THE SOFT POWER 30 IS DETERMINED BY A COMPOSITE INDEX THAT COMBINES BOTH OBJECTIVE METRICS OF COUNTRIES’ SOFT POWER RESOURCES AND SUBJECTIVE INTERNATIONAL POLLING DATA. THIS DUALISTIC APPROACH HAS CREATED WHAT WE BELIEVE TO BE THE WORLD’S MOST COMPREHENSIVE AND ACCURATE INDEX OF SOFT POWER TO DATE.

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RANKING

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

2

Culture

2

Enterprise

17

Education

2

Government

13

Polling

7

Spider-Chart Ranking

The UK has topped our Soft Power 30, much to the surprise of most British people no doubt. The result belies recent accusations that British influence is in decline. Vladimir Putin mocked Britain as a 'small island no one listens to'. This is hard to reconcile with the UK's position in the G7, UN Security Council, NATO, the European Union, and at the epicentre of the Commonwealth. British soft power is often felt in more subtle ways, whether through the Beatles, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, David Beckham, the Royal Family, or the English Premier League. Moreover, the success of the 2012 Olympics was a coup for a country struggling to rediscover its confidence in the wake of two recent wars and a major recession. By many measures, London has overtaken New York as the premier global city. According to Government figures, the UK attracts more in Foreign Direct Investment than Germany, France or Spain. However, the true extent of Britain's influence abroad will be tested in the upcoming negotiations over reform of the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron has staked his credibility as a world leader on these negotiations, and if he was to come back empty handed, it would be a huge blow to national confidence.

Country Analysis

Strengths

The UK is spoiled for choice when it comes to soft power resources. But perhaps the jewel in the crown is the capital itself, London. The city is unrivalled in its global outlook, position, and connectivity. It now attracts more visitors than any other city in the world.

Weaknesses

The UK's government gets some things right: meeting aid commitments of 0.7% of GDP being one. But some ugly rhetoric around immigration, and a governing party that seems monomaniacal about leaving the European Union seriously undermines British soft power.

Portland Recommends

In soft power terms, the UK should be worried about maintaining the resources that generate its international influence. Cutting funds to the British Council, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, BBC World Service, and others will prove a false economy in the future. And as networks now drive global affairs, leaving one of the most important - the EU - would significantly undermine the UK's influence.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

7

Culture

4

Enterprise

10

Education

5

Government

6

Polling

3

Spider-Chart Ranking

Germany's strong finish at second in the rankings follows a trend that has gained pace over the last decade or so. Its role as the driving force in European affairs is unimpeachable. It is roundly admired for the quality of its advanced manufacturing goods, engineering prowess, its opposition to military adventurism, and an economy that seems to translate growth into well-being better than most. Moreover, there is a strong feeling that Germany will 'do the right thing in international affairs' according to our international polling. On the cultural side, the transformation of Berlin from divided capital to global hub of culture and creativity has been remarkable. And despite being at a relative linguistic disadvantage, German culture still has global appeal - helped significantly by sport. As Europe's indispensable actor, Germany's steady hand and agreeable approach to its conduct at home and abroad generates tremendous stores of soft power. The answer to Henry Kissinger's fabled quip 'who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?' looks more and more like Berlin these days. The popularity of Chancellor Merkel extends beyond Germany as she has the air of a sensible and prudent leader. With the exception of Greece, the rest of the world would be happy to see more - not less - of German leadership in the world.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Given Germany's historical baggage, it is incredible that when experts and commentators criticise German foreign policy, it's for a lack of assertiveness and a reluctance to lead on major international issues. Germany's rehabilitation of its brand from the lows of the 20th century to today is nothing short of miraculous. Germany has worked hard to win back global trust.

Weaknesses

Germany is unquestionably the engine room of the EU and nothing of significance can get done without Chancellor Merkel on board - as British Prime Minister David Cameron is learning. But outside of Europe, Germany is far too timid.

Portland Recommends

Less than 1.5% of the global population speak German. Despite this, German culture manages to generate significant global appeal. A dedicated global push for German culture would be a real boost. The Irish leverage St Patrick's Day, India is using Yoga, Germany needs a global cultural hook.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

1

Culture

1

Enterprise

9

Education

1

Government

24

Polling

16

Spider-Chart Ranking

The United States remains the world's only super power, even after China's emergence as an economic powerhouse, the US stands alone in the combined might of its hard and soft power - or 'smart power' as Joe Nye has argued. The US is home to many of the world's most admired and ubiquitous brands, which can be found in every corner of the globe - Apple, Boeing, Google and Disney to name a few. America's universities continue to attract young talent from both the developing and developed world. It ranks first in our soft power sub index on Education, way ahead of other G8 countries. This is largely a result of having the most top-rated universities in the world and attracting the most international students. But it's not just students attracted to America. 75 million tourists visited the US in 2014, a 7% increase on 2013. As the inventor of 'digital diplomacy' and the home of the two most popular social media platforms, the US is a digital powerhouse. Until government gets involved, the US is top of the Soft Power 30 table. Gridlock in Washington, striking homicides rates, the death penalty and inequality are all black marks on an otherwise sparkling soft power performance. The US is also brought down on polling - particularly on international trust of America's foreign policy intentions.

Country Analysis

Strengths

America remains the home to many of the largest household internet names and can boast one of the best connected populations (in 2013 74.4% of homes reported internet use, while 73.4% had a high speed connection).

Weaknesses

America's problems stem from a dysfunctional political system that seems in deadlock and unable to reach agreement on long term economic solutions; high debt loads, unaffordable entitlement problems, and an over-extended military. Being seen to spy on allies and friends has certainly not helped global trust of Uncle Sam.

Portland Recommends

The US has a track-record of selflessly helping others, e.g. the Marshall Plan. It is the largest overseas development aid donor. No country is better placed to be a global problem solver. The US needs to shed the 'policeman of the world' label and reposition itself as the 'problem-solver-in-chief'.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

3

Culture

3

Enterprise

19

Education

6

Government

15

Polling

4

Spider-Chart Ranking

Paris in the Spring. The glitz of Cannes. Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy. France's charms are so well renowned, they border on cliché. Of course they are well known for good reason. As the most visited country in the world, with the most visited art museum in the world, and most famous work of art, France is a cultural soft power giant. However, France's true soft power strength is in its unrivalled ability to engage with the world. France tops our Engagement sub-index, which assesses both the diplomatic reach of countries and their contribution to the global community. France has the second largest network of Embassies in the world (behind the US), tremendous cultural promotion power in its Alliance Francaise centres, and it is a member of more international organisations than any other nation. It's not for nothing that French is known as 'the language of diplomacy'. With its cultural assets and world-class ability to project influence, France has plenty of soft power upsides. But there are downsides too. France has a reputation for bureaucracy, labour unrest, and stiff regulation. France's worst score across all sub-indices was Enterprise, where it ranked 18th. There is a danger France is seen as anti-business. Turning to politics, the growing popularity of the right-wing National Front party does not play well abroad.

Country Analysis

Strengths

As a leading EU nation, operator of one of the biggest and most sophisticated diplomatic machines in the world, and a willingness to include any interested country in the Francophonie, it's not surprising that France is number one for Engagement.

Weaknesses

The 75% income-tax rate hit France's business reputation hard - questions remain about how business-friendly it can really be. France's appeal to foreign investors and globally-mobile entrepreneurs lags behind its peers in the top five of The Soft Power 30.

Portland Recommends

France benefits from world-class cultural assets and the best combination of global engagement tools in the world. A concerted effort to make France a more attractive place for global top-talent in the business world would be another string to France's considerable soft power bow.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

8

Culture

7

Enterprise

16

Education

3

Government

11

Polling

1

Spider-Chart Ranking

Canada has long been a soft-power heavyweight, preferring to speak softly (and wisely) rather than carry a big stick. Its place near the summit of the rankings is fully deserved: our polling shows people feel more favourably towards Canada than any other country. The reason has nothing to do with maple syrup or Canada's famously welcoming people. Rather, it is Canada's behaviour on the world stage that has earned the respect of public opinion. People trust Canada to do the right thing most of the time, which is more than can be said for many of the other countries on our list. The world trusts Canada's people, too. A total of 173 countries are willing to welcome Canadian passport holders without requiring a visa. However, Canada cannot afford to rest on the groundswell of goodwill it has built up in past decades. Reputations can be squandered as quickly as they are gained. Recent moves to slash foreign aid spending, close embassies abroad and abolish the highly respected Canadian International Development Agency put Canada's status as a soft-power superpower at risk.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Canada's government is a highly effective, largely incorruptible operation. More importantly, it is trusted by both Canadian citizens and the rest of the world to do the right thing.

Weaknesses

Enterprise, where Canada places only 16th. Spending 1.7% of GDP on research and development does not compare well with other developed nations, and has not given the country a good reputation for innovation.

Portland Recommends

It is telling that there are more foreign embassies in Canada (126) than Canadian embassies abroad (107). This sends a complacent signal: expanding Canada's diplomatic presence abroad would let the rest of the world know Canada isn't relying on them to come to it.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

5

Culture

5

Enterprise

13

Education

11

Government

9

Polling

5

Spider-Chart Ranking

That Australia takes its global soft power standing seriously is without question. A strong finish at sixth in the overall rankings reflects the nation's domestic stability, areas of natural beauty, easygoing citizens, and an overwhelmingly pleasant climate. Australia's traditional moniker of 'the lucky country' remains an apt description. These intangible assets compliment Australia's desire to take a more prominent role in international affairs. Australia's own efforts to bolster its soft power were codified in a 600-page manual, handed down to Australian diplomats ahead of the Brisbane G20 summit in 2014. Known colloquially as Koala Diplomacy, many international observers were surprised to see Australia's strategy involving a cuddly marsupial also comes with claws. Sponsorship of a unanimous UN Security Council resolution on the MH17 disaster, withdrawal of Australia's ambassador to Indonesia over the execution of Australian citizens for drug smuggling and being an active participant in global action against ISIS all point to a country willing to aggressively respond when it is required. Indeed, at the G20 summit Australia's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, responded to evidence the Russia may have been complicit in downing the MH17 airliner by threatening an Australian Football 'shirt-front' manoeuvre against President Putin. For a country with a small population of 26 million, Australia's Koala Diplomacy still continues to punch well above its weight.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Long considered the only 'Western' nation in Asia, Australia's key relationships with its near neighbours Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia and it's largest trading partner, China, offers Australia advantages and access to markets that many do not have. Equally, increasing tensions in the South China Sea and a US pivot towards Asia will see Australia's regional diplomatic initiatives gain greater prominence and support.

Weaknesses

Even with the launch of Australia's Digital Transformation Office and the long delayed roll out of the much-maligned National Broadband Network (NBN) a lack of wider infrastructure development and restrictive internet censorship laws could threaten Australia's steps towards a network economy and jeopardise Australia's position as fifth in the digital section of the index.

Portland Recommends

Domestic policy stances on gay marriage, migrants, indigenous affairs and the environment often run counter to the projected image of a laid back welcoming country. To counter this, Australia would do well to redouble their diplomatic efforts and work harder in engaging on the global stage. A cuddly koala will only get you so far.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

28

Culture

11

Enterprise

1

Education

8

Government

1

Polling

2

Spider-Chart Ranking

For a country that treasures its neutrality, Switzerland's 7th place showing is more than respectable. In fact, it is that steadfast neutrality that may be the secret to Switzerland's success in the soft power stakes. The Alpine nation's neutrality allows it to play host to the headquarters of a number of multilateral organisations and NGOs (the Swiss government proudly lists over 250). Moreover, the famed Swiss efficiency translates into a high-performing public sector, as Switzerland ranks top in the Government sub-index.

It will come as little surprise that Switzerland's other strong suit is in the Enterprise sub-index. But 1st place in this category didn't come solely thanks to the country's deep-rooted commitment to liberal economics and low taxes. Innovation is the backbone of the modern Swiss economy, with the country spending nearly 3% of its GDP on research and development. Switzerland is, after all, the birthplace of the most famous patent-clerk in history.

Surprisingly, where Switzerland's soft power falls down is in the Digital and Cultural sub-indices. The country that pioneered the internet (the first website was built at CERN in 1991), not to mention chocolate and Roger Federer, finished in 11th place on Culture and a disappointing 28th in the Digital sub-index.

Country Analysis

Strengths

As the world's meeting place for diplomats, civil society practitioners and businessmen (think Davos), Switzerland doesn't have to go to the world: the world comes to Switzerland.

Weaknesses

The birthplace of the internet is sorely let down by a lack of digital engagement at the highest levels of government. With no Facebook presence for the Foreign Ministry and only 6,329 Twitter followers for its Head of State (fewer than Morocco), Switzerland struggles to get its message out to the internet generation.

Portland Recommends

Switzerland should leverage its excellence in the field of innovation to modernise its international brand. A good place to start would be a much more active approach to digital diplomacy. With plenty of credibility, and technical expertise in myriad areas, the Swiss would find a willing global audience, if they wanted.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

11

Culture

12

Enterprise

3

Education

4

Government

21

Polling

10

Spider-Chart Ranking

Japan may have faced difficult times of late, but it is still a major player when it comes to admiration and influence on the global stage. It ranks 8th in The Soft Power 30, tucked in between Switzerland and Sweden, and the highest ranking Asian country. The Land of the Rising Sun has one of the most unique cultures in the world, attracting 13 million overseas visitors in 2014. It scores particularly highly in international polling for being welcoming. Japan is celebrated globally for its pursuit of perfection, most notably in its cuisine, technology and luxury goods. Its highest rank in The Soft Power 30 is in the area of Enterprise, where it finishes 3rd. Japanese companies are admired around the world for their innovation, precision, and excellence in design. Japan is a significant player in the international community. Despite two decades of recession, it remains a major aid donor, and a source of global credit and capital. Japan was a founding member of the Asian Development Bank and is the largest historical contributor to infrastructure development in the region. Prime Minister Abe recently announced a move towards “pro-active pacifism’ in response to China’s regional posturing. Whether there is a role for Japan’s considerable soft power assets in that diplomatic strategy remains to be seen. 

Country Analysis

Strengths

Innovation and technological prowess. Japanese exports have helped to build Japan’s soft power around the world. Japanese companies will do doubt continue to innovate and inspire.  

Weaknesses

Foreign languages. Despite having world-class education and skills, Japan is not known for foreign language proficiency. Additionally, there are less than 20 million secondary speakers of Japanese. It is also among the most difficult languages to learn and perhaps one reason Japanese culture does not cut through to as many audiences as it should.

Portland Recommends

The 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games are two major platforms for Japan to promote itself to the world. Importantly, they are cultural platforms, the area where Japan scores lowest in soft power. 

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

13

Culture

18

Enterprise

4

Education

10

Government

3

Polling

8

Spider-Chart Ranking

As Scandinavia's largest country by population, Sweden has long been held up as the ideal model of a successful social-democratic state. High life expectancy, low pollution, high levels of civic engagement and low unemployment all contribute to Sweden's image of a harmonious, peaceful society. Many on the left of politics cite the Swedish model of large welfare programs and extensive government intervention as the source of success. Former leader of the UK Labour Party Ed Miliband even travelled to the country in 2013 to get advice on how to achieve successful policy outcomes. Sweden is not the most assertive actor on the global stage and has long adopted a Swiss-style neutral posture. Sweden has remained outside of the NATO club, despite neighbours Norway and Denmark signing up as original members in 1949. But a cautious and neutral approach serves Sweden well, as most of the world trusts them to 'do the right thing in global affairs'. Sweden's attractiveness is built on the foundation of an inclusive and tolerant attitude. Swedes welcome a higher proportion of asylum seekers than any other European country. People may associate Swedish culture with ABBA and the Eurovision Song Contest, but in reality the cultural brand draws a deep well, from excellence in design to widely popular neo-noir TV dramas.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Sweden comes top - or very near it - on a host of rankings on prosperity, well-being, government effectiveness, economic competitiveness and even happiness. The Swede's have built a modern, high-functioning society that is greatly admired throughout much of the world.

Weaknesses

Beyond a strong commitment to delivering overseas development aid, Sweden does not have much of a presence on the international stage. A slightly more involved and assertive Sweden certainly wouldn't go amiss in global affairs.

Portland Recommends

Sweden enjoys a great deal of credibility, and finishing in the top ten is a very good result. If it wanted to take a more active role on a few key global challenges, it would be well placed to wield influence. Sweden's campaign for a 2017-18 UN Security Council seat would be a good place to start.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

14

Culture

14

Enterprise

8

Education

7

Government

4

Polling

14

Spider-Chart Ranking

The Netherlands is avowedly liberal, highly prosperous, and strongly committed to international institutions - which all help explain its top ten ranking. The Netherlands was more radical than any other country in applying the progressive philosophy of the sixties to politics. Whether in the case of same-sex marriage, abortion, the legalisation of soft drugs, prostitution, or euthanasia, Dutch legislators have been Europe's frontrunners. Its open attitude to social issues is matched by an open economy, which ranks 17th out of 178 countries on the Index of Economic Freedom. As a maritime hub, coupled by the fact that 90% of the population speak English, the Netherlands enjoys strong trade links with the rest of the world. With one of the world's highest GDP per capita rates, it's not hard to see why people want to live there - today well over 20% of the population are immigrants or the children of immigrant parents. The Netherlands has always been strongly committed to the European project, symbolised by the landmark treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, and sees itself as a cornerstone of the system of international relations, hosting the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The home of the Dutch Masters, the Netherlands boasts the largest number of museums per square kilometre in the world - part of the reason why the country attracted over 14 million tourists last year. This high quality of life certainly makes the Dutch people happy - they are the seventh happiest population in the world, according to the 2015 World Happiness Report.

Country Analysis

Strengths

The Netherlands scores highest on Government, reflecting its open society and economy, followed closely by Engagement. For a country of just 16 million people, it has 150 embassies and consulates around the world, giving it significant diplomatic reach.

Weaknesses

The Netherlands doesn't have any obvious identifiable weaknesses. It has middle ranking status in the categories of Culture and Digital, and is also mid-table when it comes to Polling. These three areas pull the Netherlands down to number 10 overall in the ranking.

Portland Recommends

In many ways, the Netherlands would do well to carry on as is. The key thing for the Dutch government to think about is how and where to leverage its soft power at the right moments. Holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2016 gives the Dutch an ideal ready-made platform.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

9

Culture

19

Enterprise

7

Education

14

Government

5

Polling

15

Spider-Chart Ranking

Like its Nordic Neighbours, Denmark boasts a model society with enviable policy outcomes for its residents. Danish government - whether the real-life or televised Borgen version - is studied by public policy and management researchers the world over. On the global stage, the Danes have enjoyed outsized influence. In the previous NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danes had a leader at the heart of the West's most important alliance. Denmark has also been a crucial global voice in the debate on climate change. But on the domestic front, there could be trouble ahead. The populist right-wing Danish People's Party had their best ever showing in an election in June 2015. These elections saw the defeat of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's centre-left coalition and the leading centre-right party will need the support of the right-wing Dansk Folksparti to build a coalition. A heavy shift to the right could challenge the Dane's long standing reputation as easy going 'happy people'.

Country Analysis

Strengths

When it comes to design, architecture, and urbanism, Denmark is truly world-class. As Winston Churchill said, 'we shape our buildings and then they shape us'. If we hold this true, the Danes have mastered functional design that leads to an effective, efficient, and above all happy society.

Weaknesses

Looking at the scores across each category of our index, Denmark ranks lowest in Culture. Danish TV has scored some international hits lately, but in other pop-culture formats, Denmark is much less visible. If the success of 'Borgen', 'The Killing', and 'The Bridge' could translate into other media, Denmark could crack the top 10.

Portland Recommends

Denmark's excellence in design is certainly among its top soft power assets. The Danish government has put this expertise to work by creating a design-led problem-solving agency called MindLab. Denmark should roll this model out to the rest of the world, bringing design-thinking to bear on major development and governance challenges.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

20

Culture

8

Enterprise

25

Education

12

Government

20

Polling

6

Spider-Chart Ranking

Few countries can claim to have a richer history or culture than Italy. Its borders contain more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other nation. Its art, food and quality of life attract visitors from around the world. Italy also has a track record of global engagement. A founder member of the European Union and of NATO, it is an active participant in UN peace-keeping and humanitarian operations. These strengths explain why Italy comes 12th in the overall ranking and give the country a great platform on which to build its soft power resources and build alliances.

Italy, despite recent troubles, also remains one of the world's largest economies. It has a strong manufacturing base, rooted in its thriving medium sized companies, and a track record of innovation. Creativity and a sense of style is not restricted to its fashion industry.

But red tape, delays and perceptions of corruption cast a shadow over enterprise in the country. Italy is 56th in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ratings, far behind Europe's other major economies. Italy also has a relatively poor digital infrastructure and reach while concerns of governance and instability have also had an impact on its rankings.

Country Analysis

Strengths

There is more history in many small Italian towns than major cities in other parts of the world. Italian culture and art give it an advantage that few countries can match.

Weaknesses

Italy is Europe's third largest economy and among the world's top ten. Exports are strong and its companies are renowned for quality and creativity. Yet enterprise is seen as strangled by red tape. Italy also scores poorly on global diplomacy.

Portland Recommends

With low scores on Digital and Enterprise, Italy would benefit from a big modernising push on all things digital. A digital-focused push could also improve transparency through more open data. Redoubling efforts in digital diplomacy would help spread the word.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

12

Culture

17

Enterprise

15

Education

20

Government

7

Polling

13

Spider-Chart Ranking

Austria's impressive performance across all categories leads to a solid, respectable 13th place in the Soft Power 30. Arguably, Austria has its heritage as one of Europe's longest standing and most stable nations to thank for building up a groundswell of soft power. Drill down into the details, however, and some surprising highlights emerge.

For instance, Austria has 18 permanent missions to international organisations - more than almost any other country in the index - leaving it well placed to project its soft power on the world stage. Austria's engagement with international society extends to the home front, where it accepts 7 asylum seekers per 1000 population, more than France and Germany put together. A clue as to Austria's attraction for asylum seekers may be its record as one of the fastest EU member states in handling asylum requests, taking decisions on applications within an average of four months. So the country has more than earned its reputation as an international good citizen.

Also intriguing is Austria's relatively poor showing of 17th in the culture category, given its form as a classical music powerhouse and culinary giant. With the notable exception of 2014 Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst, modern cultural triumphs have been thin on the ground.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Austria's liberal economy and effective government provide fertile ground for innovation. The number of patents registered as a proportion of GDP stands at 3%, more than most other countries in the index.

Weaknesses

Austria is popular with tourists, attracting over 24,000,000 in 2014. But they don't stay very long, spending on average only £525 ($810) per tourist, according to the World Bank.

Portland Recommends

Encouraging tourists to stay longer in the country is an important way to boost the world's engagement with Austria's brand. A campaign to highlight modern cultural assets could be a way to keep visitors engaged for longer.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

22

Culture

6

Enterprise

21

Education

13

Government

17

Polling

12

Spider-Chart Ranking

For climate, culture, and cuisine alone, it is not difficult to understand the attraction of Spain. 65 million international tourists visited the country in 2014 - an obvious manifestation of its soft power.

Politically and economically, a more complex picture emerges. The issue of Catalonia's calls for independence are growing ever louder. Local elections set for September 2015 are being framed by pro-independence parties as a de facto referendum on the future of their region. Several years of economic difficulties have also taken its toll on the Iberian nation.

However, the economy is bouncing back and the economy is forecast to return to growth above 2.0% for the first time since 2007. Provided there is no resurgence of a Eurozone crisis in the near future, Spain looks to be on the right track. On the global stage, Spain has traditionally been a cautious actor in foreign policy. The last year has broadly been in line with that approach. Spain has led on a few issues, particularly outreach to Syrian opposition groups. However, most foreign policy has followed a pan-EU line, which makes it hard to answer, what does Spain really want to achieve in global affairs?

Country Analysis

Strengths

It is no surprise that Spain ranks highly in the Cultural sub-index as well as global polling. Its beach holidays, together with major city destinations such as Barcelona and Seville make it one of the world's most desirable places to visit.

Weaknesses

Spain ranks poorly in the Digital and Enterprise sub-indices - these sit well below the strong showing for Culture and appear to be holding back the country's potential for improving its overall Soft Power 30 ranking.

Portland Recommends

The eyes of the world are likely to be on Spain in the coming year for two major issues: Firstly, Catalonia's independence and secondly the threat of Eurozone instability, possibly radiating from other southern European states such as Greece. Spain's handling of these could have a significant impact on the future of its soft power perception and ranking.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

19

Culture

30

Enterprise

5

Education

19

Government

8

Polling

11

Spider-Chart Ranking

In soft power terms, Finland punches well above its geopolitical weight, scoring 15th place in the Soft Power 30. Unsurprisingly this is no thanks to its cultural output, with the country struggling to attract as many tourists as its neighbours in northern Europe, or convince many foreigners to take up the notoriously difficult Finnish language.

Where Finland does impress is its performance in the field of enterprise, where it takes 5th place. A competitive economy and extremely low levels of corruption have fostered a strong culture of innovation, with Finland registering proportionately more patents than all other countries in the index save Japan and South Korea. Evidence suggests this feverish economic activity might be built on unhealthy foundations, since the Finns are the world's biggest coffee drinkers, gulping down no less than 12 kg of the black substance annually. In any case, the 4% of its GDP spent on research and development efforts should ensure that number doesn't fall anytime soon.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Finland's brand is closely associated with the world-renowned 'Nordic model' of social democracy. Although this can make it hard to stand out from its neighbours Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, on balance Finland gains hugely from association with the Nordic success story.

Weaknesses

A small population. Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the European Union, with only 16 inhabitants per km_. Cultural and commercial ambassadors for the nation are hard to come by.

Portland Recommends

Finland should make use of its digitally savvy citizens - 92% of whom are internet users - creating an army of digital brand ambassadors to spread the gospel online. The more Finland can do to promote its excellence in design, the better. The quasi-government agency SITRA could be a huge soft power asset.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

16

Culture

27

Enterprise

12

Education

18

Government

10

Polling

9

Spider-Chart Ranking

New Zealand remains one of the favourite destinations for British expats wishing to set out for 'the new world'. With a higher GDP per capita than Hong Kong or Japan, New Zealand is known for its great quality of life, beautiful scenery, love of all sports, and generous hospitality. Its low profile on the international stage, however, is result of its obvious geographic disadvantage. Distance makes influence projection a challenge for New Zealand. However, that distance hides a country and economy that has a GDP per capita twice the European average, holds the highest rank on the OECD Health Index (90% of New Zealanders reported being in good health), and is often held up as a model of effective government. The OECD Better Life Index found New Zealand scored higher than the US in traditional soft power areas, civic engagement, life satisfaction, community, health, and safety. One of the many reasons for the overwhelming happiness of all New Zealanders could be the All Black's dominance on the rugby field and five years uninterrupted as the top ranked team globally. Alternatively it may be the growth of their film industry; Avatar, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were all filmed there.

Country Analysis

Strengths

On the global stage, New Zealand is not the most ubiquitous actor, but when it makes interventions, it has plenty of credibility. A highly effective government, strong economy, and high levels of wellbeing make New Zealand a model to be emulated.

Weaknesses

As a nation, New Zealand remains somewhat extracted from many of the problems that dominate global news today. While it may sound blunt, New Zealand is relatively small and often far away from the action in international affairs. However, there are certainly worse weaknesses to have.

Portland Recommends

New Zealand's efficient and effective public sector could be used to help developing states build better public institutions and deliver better outcomes for people in those countries. New Zealand could provide a 'global public sector consulting service' as part of its overseas development aid.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

24

Culture

10

Enterprise

20

Education

21

Government

14

Polling

17

Spider-Chart Ranking

Brussels is home to the European Commission and NATO and with that comes a place on the world stage. Membership of the European Union and the Euro was never in doubt for a country that shares a border with France, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands, and has two dominant languages (French and Dutch). It is a trading nation and exports account for one third of domestic value added according to the IMF. The popularity of Belgian cuisine and culture explains why so many tourists travel to cities such as Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp. Online travel site Eupedia.com reports that Brussels is the world's largest chocolate selling point, and the country manufactures some 220,000 tonnes of chocolate per year. Waffle and chocolate consumption in Belgium is some of the highest in the world. Belgium is also home to 'The Adventures of Tintin' which has sold over 200 million copies worldwide over a 70 year history.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Apart from the Belgian waffles, chocolate, and many other confectionary items, Belgium's greatest strength comes from its hosting of the European project and NATO.

Weaknesses

In a strange way, Belgium's greatest soft power strength is a double-edged sword. Playing host to the EU and NATO is - on balance - a positive. However, it also means the capital's national government lives in the shadow of two towering pillars of Western diplomacy. Pop-quiz: Can you name the Prime Minister of Belgium?

Portland Recommends

Belgium serves as an ideal model of Consociationalism (power-sharing government). That Belgium formed and maintained a single political union between two regions with differing languages and culture is a marvel of collaboration and consent-based rule. Belgium should tout itself more as a conflict mediator where divided states could use some perspective.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

18

Culture

29

Enterprise

18

Education

22

Government

2

Polling

18

Spider-Chart Ranking

Norway might be showing signs of an expectations management problem. Ranked 18th, Norway makes a perfectly respectable showing, though it finishes last among the Nordic countries that place in the top 30. In soft power terms, Norway has much to be proud of, but this will probably give little comfort when comparisons are made to Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

Squeaking into second place on the Government measure (just behind Switzerland), it shares all of the regional qualities that have the Northern European nations topping effective government, quality of life, and well-being indices year after year. It's one of the best places in the world for gender equality, with a very free press, low economic inequality, and an outsized role in international organisations - even if it has decided to 'just be friends' with the European Union.

However, Norway falls down on culture. The country lacks the instantly recognisable short-hands that have served its Scandinavian cousins so well. No neo-noir TV dramas; no 'Statsminister Birgitte Nyborg'; no Swedish meatballs or flatpack furniture; and no architectural heroes. But let's not count out the power of being the home of the Nobel Peace Prize. This embodies what the Norwegians do best: promote peace and conduct themselves impeccably abroad.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Norway's neutral stance gives it the unofficial honour of being among the world's best peace negotiators.

Weaknesses

It's understandable given Norway's massive natural resources, but it doesn't do the country any favours that Statoil is far and away the most recognisable Norwegian brand.

Portland Recommends

A greater push for differentiation from its Nordic neighbours. The world should know more about Norway. We suspect Norway has more to offer the world than it lets on.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

25

Culture

22

Enterprise

11

Education

26

Government

12

Polling

19

Spider-Chart Ranking

For a country of just 4.6 million, Ireland enjoys a top 20 ranking, proving that it packs a big punch when it comes to soft power. Much of the goodwill it enjoys around the world must be down to its extraordinary diaspora, estimated to be many tens of millions strong. In the US alone, 33 million people identify themselves as Irish American. Indeed, the diaspora is such an important asset for the country that in July 2014 the Government appointed a Minister of State for the Diaspora to fully leverage its influence. That diaspora helps the country in many ways, fuelling visitor numbers of 8 million in 2013, and providing a loyal market for the country's high-profile drinks industry. The country has an astonishing 26 new or proposed whiskey distilleries which will help grow its global market share, as forecast, from 4% to 12% by 2030. Meanwhile, Guinness is brewed in 60 countries across the world and is available in over 120. It is little wonder that St Patrick's Day is such a big party the world over, involving the green illumination of some of the world's greatest landmarks - including Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro - to celebrate Irish heritage and culture. More soberingly, however, Ireland had the dubious distinction of being the first Eurozone country to enter the recent recession when the banking crisis led to the spectacular bursting of Ireland's property bubble. After taking strong fiscal and economic medicine, the Irish economy has made a good recovery, recording growth of 4.8% in 2014. Ireland's successful response to the crisis may be reflected in its strong score in the Enterprise category.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Ireland's soft power is strongest when it comes to Enterprise, where it has made its name as an investment destination with an attractive regulatory environment and reputation for innovation, followed closely by Government. A number of major tech companies have also set up European HQs in Dublin.

Weaknesses

Ireland's worst performing category is Engagement, possibly reflecting cuts and mergers which saw the merger of Ireland's foreign affairs and trade ministries, and has seen the Irish overseas aid budget fall by 30% in recent years. It also ranks comparatively badly on education.

Portland Recommends

Most people in Ireland and the UK look back on the violence and sectarianism of the 20th century as a puzzling piece of history. The successful peace process in Northern Ireland has made it a useful model for others to follow. Ireland could position itself as a peace mediator on a par with Norway or Switzerland.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

6

Culture

13

Enterprise

6

Education

9

Government

18

Polling

28

Spider-Chart Ranking

South Korea's transformation both economically and politically over the last three decades has been impressive. Moving into the 21st century, South Korea was an early adopter of soft power among Asian nations, and, after Japan, it is the only other Asian country to feature in the top 20 of our rankings. Korea has invested heavily in its culture and creative industries, and has also become a consumer electronics powerhouse. K-Pop, Samsung, and LG can all attest to its progress in these areas. South Korea will be among the most interesting countries to track in the future iterations of this index. South Korea performed particularly well on the Digital sub-index, having invested heavily in its digital infrastructure and is now reaping the rewards. South Korea is now synonymous with technological innovation. Indeed, the Korean technology giant Samsung is the second most valuable brand in the world - behind Apple - according to analysis from Brand Finance. Korea is also becoming a bigger player in major international networks. Earlier this year, South Korea's candidate won election as the Secretary General of the UN's International Maritime Organisation. While Korea has been on an emphatic rise in recent years, it also faces serious challenges. Among these are a more assertive China, a hostile and nuclear-armed neighbour to the North, and perennially tricky relations with Japan.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Globally, South Korea's biggest soft power strength lies in all things digital. South Korea is seen as a leader in global technological innovation, and it has been quick to build up capability in digital diplomacy too. Looking regionally, K-Pop is definitely winning hearts throughout Asia.

Weaknesses

Surprisingly, South Korea's total score was dragged down by its performance in the international polling data component of our index. South Korea scored well on every aspect of the index, with two exceptions: Polling and Engagement. The two could conceivably be linked.

Portland Recommends

South Korea has an enviable set of soft power assets. It does very well in the Digital and Enterprise sub-indices. However, its total score is brought down by the Engagement sub-index, as well as the international polling data - particularly perceptions of Korean foreign policy. This suggests that South Korea would benefit from ramping up efforts to engage global audiences.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

10

Culture

23

Enterprise

2

Education

23

Government

26

Polling

22

Spider-Chart Ranking

Despite its relatively small size, at 21 in the rankings, Singapore punches above its weight in terms of soft power. The modern, wealthy city-state of South East Asia has proven itself an attractive place for business and tourists alike. Boasting an open and globalised economy, Singapore is often referred to as one of Asia's economic 'tigers' - fact recognised by the World Bank, which ranks Singapore as the easiest country in the world in which to do business. It's also recognised by giants such as Hewlett-Packard, Siemens and Motorola who have brought jobs and FDI to Singapore's door. With one of the world's lowest levels of corruption, and the highest trade-to-GDP ratio, Singapore is viewed across the globe as business friendly, adding significant weight to its soft power pull. The country came second only to Switzerland in our Enterprise sub index ranking. But on top of an open and successful economy sits a society that is very much outward facing too. Under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew, the Government of Singapore built a city state based on multicultural inclusivity, where children from all backgrounds learn English alongside their mother tongue in schools. It is this unique openness to the outside world that links its politics, economy, and society, and gives Singapore its impressive soft power competitive edge on other states.

Country Analysis

Strengths

It's all about business for Singapore. The state has a reputation not only for innovation and enterprise, but also for the ease at which business can be conducted. It is what has led the country to position itself as a global trade and investment hub, making it one of South East Asia's most important cities.

Weaknesses

Despite building a highly effective legal and political system, Singapore enforces harsh punishment for acts seen to be anti-social. The use of capital punishment, particularly against those convicted on drug charges - including foreigners - has occasionally drawn negative global attention.

Portland Recommends

Singapore has successfully used business and education initiatives as a means of forwarding its soft power agenda. The country now has an opportunity to present itself as more than a great destination for investment and commerce. As such, Singapore should continue to consolidate its cultural diplomacy assets, and not place all of its eggs in the business basket.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

27

Culture

26

Enterprise

23

Education

30

Government

22

Polling

20

Spider-Chart Ranking

In the 15th century Portugal became the first global empire, and remained a colonial power until the 1970s. Its seafaring culture produced some of the greatest explorers of the Age of Discovery. Today, its stars are more likely to be found on the football pitch, with native son Cristiano Ronaldo the most recognisable footballer today.

Portugal is among the 20 most visited countries in the world, offering the perfect mix of culture, cuisine, and climate. Tourists from all over the globe journey to Porto and Lisbon to listen to fado music, drink Port wine and revel in the rich contrast between the medieval and the modern.

But the tourism economy has not saved Portugal from an economic crisis that has demanded austerity. While the quality of life in Portugal is rated as 'high,' so is unemployment. Per capita GDP is low compared to its OECD peers, and the country has a significant debt burden.

But unlike Greece, Portugal has managed to meet its debt obligations, and its trade balance is improving. Most important, it has a solid foundation upon which to build. Lisbon is beginning to look more and more like a Mediterranean Berlin, with young creative entrepreneurs bringing new ideas and dynamism to the city. Fashion too, is a strong suit for Portugal.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Portugal's principal soft power assets are its history, its culture, and its sunny beaches. Tourists voting with their feet find it an attractive place. Portugal is also considered one of the most globalised, peaceful, and socially progressive nations in Europe.

Weaknesses

Portugal's government was forced to request a £58 billion ($90 billion) bailout from the EU and the IMF in 2011. But the nation's economy began to recover in 2013 and grew again in 2014. Portugal's recovery is in its early stages and the economy still lags behind most of the EU.

Portland Recommends

Portugal's non-tourism based economy, though diversified, remains stuck in the last century. However, Lisbon holds real promise as a burgeoning centre of culture, creativity, and entrepreneurialism. The government should look to support and promote what could develop into a key European creative hub.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

26

Culture

15

Enterprise

30

Education

24

Government

29

Polling

21

Spider-Chart Ranking

Having hosted the 2014 World Cup, followed closely by the next year's Olympics in Rio, the eyes of the world are certainly on Brazil. This presents a fantastic opportunity for the country to further realise its potential.

By GDP, Brazil has the 7th largest global economy, so its Soft Power 30 ranking of 23rd may look like a disappointment. However the South American giant ranks well above other BRIC contenders - with China at 30th, and Russia and India failing to rank in the top 30 at all.

The wonderful combination of football, samba and Carnival give Brazil a healthy score for Culture, ranking 16th for that sub-index. But poorer showing on the Government sub-index and weak scores for Education, Digital and Enterprise have prevented it from a better overall showing in our rankings. Going forward Brazil will be among the most interesting countries to watch. With so many soft power assets, but quite a few areas for development, it is easy to see them climbing higher, or slipping down.

Country Analysis

Strengths

You can’t get better coverage and profile than hosting the World Cup and Olympic Games within two years.

Weaknesses

Brazil came 30th in the Enterprise sub-index, illustrating the amount of reform needed to unleash the full potential of the economy. Perceptions of corruption do the country no favours for attracting inwards foreign direct investment, and Brazil lags behind in economic competitiveness and ease of doing business.

Portland Recommends

Brazil benefits from a truly global profile and has excellent brand recognition - if it can solve major challenges like poor governance and overcome the factors driving inequality for many of its citizens, this South American powerhouse could be a major soft power player.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

23

Culture

28

Enterprise

26

Education

15

Government

19

Polling

24

Spider-Chart Ranking

Poland's ranking at 24th is a tribute to the political and economic transformation that has taken place since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Although the private sector is still developing, for example, leaving some way to go to in its 'Enterprise' score, Poland's economy has liberalised remarkably quickly. It largely avoided the financial crisis and has become one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. The political space has opened up rapidly, leading to a high score for 'Government' in our index. While the transition to democracy is by no means complete - we see, for example, public TV and radio still regulated by the government - civil society groups, NGOs and the media operate with significant degrees of freedom. Internationally, Poland has stepped up engagement and built alliances quickly, across Europe and with other emerging economies. Perhaps the biggest scope for improvement in Poland's score is in promoting its cultural assets. Poland has a rich culture, historically and artistically in particular, but this is not well understood by international audiences. Poland has made great strides in promoting access to and use of the internet, but the potential to use digital channels to reach external audiences is not maximised. Nor is Polish culture seen first-hand as widely as it could be; tourism numbers are rising but the tourism industry still has great scope to grow. Poland is the stand-out country in its neighbourhood and the future looks bright for the country.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Poland's biggest soft power strength is its government. It scores well in international league tables for transparency, freedom of political opposition, freedom of media and civil society, gender equality and trust in government. This significantly enhances the country's attractiveness to the rest of the world, particularly in contrast to its wider neighbourhood.

Weaknesses

Poland's lowest score was in the Cultural component of our index. The number of tourist arrivals to Poland, for example, is relatively low - as is the average spend by tourists there. While Polish historical sites are reasonably well known, Polish music, film and art are relatively unknown globally, and Poland is not considered a major sporting nation.

Portland Recommends

Poland has a huge opportunity to demonstrate its cultural assets to the rest of the world. Polish culture is not easily accessible to global audiences. A push to bring Polish culture to the world, potentially within a broader tourism campaign, would be a benefit to the country's soft power.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

17

Culture

20

Enterprise

29

Education

29

Government

25

Polling

23

Spider-Chart Ranking

At time of writing, Greece was still a part of the European Economic and Monetary Union. However the economic malaise into which it has sunk doesn't bode well for the years ahead. The oldest democracy in the world has been the hardest hit by the European debt crisis and has experienced huge popular discontent with rioting in the streets over EU enforced austerity measures. The election of populist left-wing party Syriza has (so far) done little to change the trajectory of Greece's economic future. The events of June 2015 have shown the party to be unpredictable and at times out of their depth. It is hard to separate Greece's soft power abroad from the very public humiliation they are experiencing at home. In the event of a 'Grexit' however, it is not hard to envisage a Lebanese-style resurgence in Greek culture and fortune. Tourists would likely flock there to take advantage of cheap Drachmas. Party resorts such as Mykonos, Zakynthos, Zante and Spetses would benefit from currency devaluation. The country's proximity to major trade routes is another reason for optimism. It may be a rough period for Greek soft power, but with more than 5,000 years of civilisation under its belt, Greece has staying power in spades.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Greece is often defined by its history, but the country actually performed best in the Digital sub-index. It ranked 20th in Digital, which isn't a resounding triumph, but it was Greece's highest showing in all sub-indices.

Weaknesses

Greece has teetered on the brink of financial collapse for the past seven years, and now the outcome seems ominous. The effects of membership to the Euro are likely to take years to be fully realised and overcome.

Portland Recommends

Classical Greece gave birth to democracy, philosophy, and essentially Western civilisation. The country has an enviable wealth of history and heritage and one of the best tourism offers in the world. To be successful going forward, Greece needs to translate this into a modern narrative. Building on its digital strengths would certainly help.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

4

Culture

25

Enterprise

14

Education

17

Government

23

Polling

30

Spider-Chart Ranking

Despite Israel's best efforts, global publics tends to see the country through the lens of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But looking beyond the stagnating peace process, Israel has some enviable soft power resources. While western governments criticised Israeli aggression against the Palestinian militia in 2014, vast networks of support for the Jewish State continued to preserve vital economic and political interests. Israel has long invested in institutions that protect and strengthen Jewish culture, arts, entertainment, and history. Organisations in the US such as the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee and the British Jewish Leadership Council advocate for pro-Israeli policies, fund educational and charitable initiatives, and develop commercial relationships. Israel still rated low in our Soft Power 30 rankings, below Greece, Ireland and Brazil. But breaking the top 30 should be seen as a victory for a nation whose reputation is always embattled. Israel's most visible soft power asset has been its booming tech and start-up sector, the growth of which has been remarkable.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Israel's technology sector has quickly become its biggest soft power strength, and Silicon Wadi is now home to 61 firms listed on the NASDAQ (according to Forbes). Israel leads the OECD in research and development spending as a percentage of GDP. Israel is a bona fide global hub of innovation.

Weaknesses

The stagnation of the peace process, aggressive posturing and rhetoric by Israel's political elites, and a refusal to stem settlement construction on occupied territory all weigh heavily on Israel's global reputation. That views on Israel are coloured by the Palestinian question is a huge soft power problem.

Portland Recommends

Israel has much to offer the world in terms of innovation, opportunity, and a largely tolerant society. But until a lasting, peaceful solution can be implemented in the region, Israel's reputation and soft power will be at a disadvantage.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

29

Culture

24

Enterprise

22

Education

28

Government

16

Polling

26

Spider-Chart Ranking

The Czech Republic as we know it today officially came into being on 1st January 1993, making it the youngest country in this year's Soft Power 30 Index. But its relative youth belies a rich history, stretching from the Holy Roman Empire, through to Nazi occupation, and over 40 years as a Communist state within the Eastern bloc.

Despite decades of Communist rule, the Czech Republic moved relatively quickly towards European integration. It became a member of NATO in 1999 and joined the European Union in 2004. Today, the country has a strong market economy, as reflected in its high ranking for Enterprise in this year's index. This is the result of a long tradition of industrial production, well-developed infrastructure, a strategic geographical position at the heart of Mitteleuropa, and a skilled labour force. Car manufacturing is the country's single largest industry, giving rise to its most famous brand - Škoda.

Prague's presidency of the Visegrad group in 2015/16 will be an opportunity to lead the Central European group, and steer further integration efforts with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. A planned seminar to lay out 'mutual' expectations of the EU and Ukraine may see the grandchildren of the velvet revolution working with their colleagues in the east. It could prove a decisive moment in Czech Republic's international role.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Undoubtedly, the Czech Republic's biggest soft power asset lies in its rich history and cultural heritage, though it is not short of political influence either. More than 10 million people visited the Czech Republic last year.

Weaknesses

The Czech Republic has long been known for its high-quality manufacturing products and industrial tradition. The big question now is how to translate this to the digital age and move towards a more high-tech, knowledge-based economy. The country's index score for Digital shows there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Portland Recommends

The Czech Republic's lowest scoring category in the index was Digital. In particular, Prague scored poorly in digital diplomacy. Occupying such an important position in Europe, and with an opportunity to be a beacon for transitional states, the Czechs would benefit from a digital diplomacy push.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

21

Culture

21

Enterprise

27

Education

25

Government

27

Polling

27

Spider-Chart Ranking

Though not a chart topper on any measure, Turkey places a respectable 27th given the events of the last few years. Turkey's soft power probably reached an apex sometime between 2011 and 2012. An intelligent and well-meaning 'zero problems in our neighbourhood' strategy served Turkey well, and as part of the MINT nations it was a fast-growing economy. But commentary suggests the country's soft power is waning. Tear gas used on protestors, rubber bullets and water cannons deployed in place of rainbow flags at this year's Pride parade, a crack-down on media and the judiciary all speak to weakening of democratic institutions. Social media channels are regularly shut down, with Turkey making five times more requests to remove content from Twitter in the second half of 2014 than any other country. The Committee to Protect Journalists named it the world's worst journalist jailer in 2012 and 2013. It has been described as having the most unfair parliamentary system in the world. But all is not lost. Turkey's claim to the title of 'the bridge between East and West' is the most legitimate compared to any pretenders. A huge amount of its soft power efforts are targeted at emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, including a substantial mosque-building programme around the world. Turkey will be one of the most interesting to states to watch going forward.

Country Analysis

Strengths

As the one true bridge between Orient and Occident, Turkey tries hard to connect and balance both sides. One of the best outward manifestations of these efforts is the government-backed investment in Turkish Airlines. With more international destinations than any airline, Turkey lives up to its reputation as a bridge between people and cultures.

Weaknesses

Turkey's flirting with what some might describe as 'heavy-handed, one party rule' has many of its Western partners worried. After all, Turkey is a critical global player and the only majority-Muslim NATO member country. Until Turkey is clearly back on a path of democratic values, its reputation will continue to slide.

Portland Recommends

The most recent electoral setback for President Erdogan could mark the start of move back towards a liberal, democratic society. As Council on Foreign Relations President, Richard Haass has argued: foreign policy starts at home. Turkey's soft power would benefit by starting there.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

15

Culture

16

Enterprise

28

Education

27

Government

28

Polling

25

Spider-Chart Ranking

Mexico continues to struggle with organised crime and high levels of violence stemming from the drug trade along the US-Mexico border. That border is also the source of tension around issues of illegal migration. In spite of this, Mexico has recently made huge strides in its economic and institutional development. Market reforms, more global corporations building a presence locally, and a growing stock market, have led HSBC to claim that Mexico may be the world's eighth largest economy in 2050. Political reforms enacted by President Enrique Pe–a Nieto have increased transparency and electoral competition. But distrust in the Government remains high. Most are sceptical of the Government's efforts to tackle organised crime. Despite the obvious issues, tourists continue to flock to Mexico in considerable numbers. 29 million people travelled there in 2014 - a 20% jump from 2013. Its physical proximity to the US is central to Mexican soft power. Mexican culture, food, Aztec history, and huge numbers of Mexican people have traversed the border. In 2010, the US Census Bureau recorded 31.7m Mexican-Americans currently residing in the US. This number could rise to over 80m by 2060.

Country Analysis

Strengths

Mexican influence is huge in the US, as the Mexican diaspora continues to grow in number. The number of Mexican-Americans in high positions of government, politics and business will strengthen Mexican soft power.

Weaknesses

Perceptions of corruption remains endemic and Mexico will want to avoid the plight of Brazil, who after a period of exuberant growth through economic reform, struggled to contain the problems of corruption, which came to a head with the PETROBRAS scandal.

Portland Recommends

Mexican soft power would benefit from a three-pronged push: diaspora diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, and gastro diplomacy. Mexico's strength is definitely in its people, culture, and cuisine. The more it can push these elements, the more the world will fall for Mexico.

Category, Polling Ranking

Digital

30

Culture

9

Enterprise

24

Education

16

Government

30

Polling

29

Spider-Chart Ranking

The economic power that China derives from its large population gives the People's Republic business and political leverage it would not enjoy if it were a mid-sized nation. Foreign companies are willing to make concessions on intellectual property rights and knowledge transfers to gain access to the Chinese market, while foreign governments temper their responses to Chinese territorial aggression or state-sponsored computer hacking to avoid destabilising their relationships with the economic superpower.

China's economy is gradually transitioning from public ownership to private ownership, and its political system from comrade to citizen. But there have been growing pains for both China's business leaders and the Communist Party. China's stock market has been on a rollercoaster ride in 2015, leading to speculation that a bubble is about to burst. China has a wealth of soft power assets when it comes to culture, history, cuisine, as well as sparks of innovation. But the lack of democracy, free press, and access to information many people around the world take for granted weighs heavily on perceptions of China. Public polling results show a lack of trust in China to Ôdo the right thing in global affairs'. China is without a doubt racing towards super-power status, but it has some catching up to do on the softer side.

Country Analysis

Strengths

China is home to the world's oldest continuous civilization and Chinese culture is now resurgent throughout the world. As China has opened up, it has developed rapidly and precipitated global change. This is China's greatest strength: opening up. By deepening engagement with the world, China can be (is) a global game-changer.

Weaknesses

China's political system has not kept pace with the nation's economic dynamism. Central control of government and the economy has allowed the Communist Party to keep its hold on power, but censorship of the internet and the stifling of political dissent have dampened the nation's entrepreneurial spirit and hampered social development.

Portland Recommends

To counter the above weaknesses, Western observers might suggest that China further liberalise its economy, relax population controls, loosen its grip on the free flow of information, and develop political systems that can accommodate dissent. Opening up at home and abroad would make China a much more attractive nation in the eyes of the world.