Iran, NKorea are Americans' least favorite lands

Americans are not too keen on Iran and North Korea, are all right with Canada and Britain, and are thinking better thoughts about France, according to Gallup's annual World Affairs poll, released Friday.

Iran and North Korea have been the two lowest-rated countries in the poll every year since 2004. This year they tied at the bottom with only 11 percent favorability ratings, according to the poll.

The poll found that Americans have the most positive view of Canada, at 92 percent, followed closely by Britain at 88 percent. Those two countries have been the top-ranked throughout the 11-year history of the poll. They were followed in the rankings by Germany (82 percent), Japan (80 percent) and India (72 percent).

France's favorability rating topped 70 percent in the poll for the first time since 2002. Its ranking has steadily recovered since hitting a low of 34 percent in 2003 when Americans' views of France soured in the run-up to the Iraq war, which Paris opposed.

Americans' favorable opinions of South Korea have also been steadily rising, from 49 percent in 2001 to 65 percent in the current poll. The United States and South Korea reached a free trade agreement at the end of last year; it's awaiting ratification in both countries' legislatures.

At the same time, Americans' opinions of Mexico have plummeted in recent years, from 74 percent in 2005 to 45 percent this year. Gallup said the decline is likely attributable to the controversy over illegal immigration and violence linked to drug cartels.

Egypt's favorability rating plunged to 40 percent this year — an 18-point drop from last year's poll — the biggest change in any single country's ratings from 2010. The poll was conducted from Feb. 2-5 when Egypt was rocked by anti-government protests that made Americans more aware of the Mideast ally's autocratic government, Gallup said. The protests forced Egyptan President Hosni Mubarak to give up power on Friday.

Israel was viewed favorably by 68 percent of Americans, while the Palestinian Authority only had a 19 percent favorability rating.

Americans were more evenly divided in their opinions about Russia (51 percent) and China (47 percent).

Others at the bottom of the poll included the Palestinian Authority (19 percent), Pakistan (18 percent) and Afghanistan (14 percent).

The poll, based on telephone interviews among 1,015 randomly chosen adults, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.