Britain is now most powerful nation on earth

US toppled from No 1 slot as British influence enhances its 'soft power'

The empire is gone and we no longer rule the waves. But Britain is once again the most powerful nation on earth, according to a new survey, when it comes to "soft power". From Danny Boyle's inspiring Olympic opening ceremony, to 22 No 1 albums overseas, to Andy Murray's long hoped-for first Grand Slam title, Britain projects more positive influence around the world than any other nation.

For the first time, Britain has beaten the US to the top spot in an annual survey of global soft power. Coined by a Harvard academic in 1990, the term describes how countries use attraction and persuasion, rather than coercion or payment, to change behaviour.

Monocle magazine's annual "Global Soft Power" survey, published tomorrow, ranks nations according to their standard of government; diplomatic infrastructure; cultural output; capacity for education; and appeal to business.

The top five spots went to Britain, the US, Germany, France and Sweden. The list is calculated using a matrix of 50 factors that indicate the use of soft power. Some are empirical – such as the number of cultural missions, Olympic medals and foreign students a country can claim; others are more subjective – with countries ranked for the quality of their cuisine, architecture and business brands.

Tyler Brûlé, Monocle's editor-in-chief, said yesterday: "We're in a time, right now, where, more than ever, it's not particularly fashionable to go out and write massive cheques to get your way in the world. Armed conflict has never been less fashionable, and if you're able to effect change because you present yourself as an attractive nation to befriend and engage with, that can only be positive. It's about the rules of attraction and what makes a nation the most attractive in the room."

Speaking about how Britain has knocked America from the top spot in the magazine's third survey, Mr Brûlé said: "There's been a fantastic momentum in Britain this year. And at Monocle we're the biggest critics of this place, too. This is a good example of where you can't deny the Olympics were very important, from a global promoting point of view, this year. People even felt good about the Union Jack. There was something happening this side of the Atlantic that sucked the wind out of [America's] sails. The US has been very inward-looking with the election. America goes on to this more domestic footing – even more than usual – when there's an election."

Mr Brûlé said the global reach of Britain's media, from the BBC World Service to international magazines such as The Economist, also played a role. "You don't need a guiding hand of government for these things; these are British institutions that get in front of people."

Xenia Dormandy, a senior fellow and US expert at Chatham House, added: "With the Olympics taking place here, which got far more fanfare internationally than domestically, and with America very focused on elections, I think the result is probably right. The UK has had a very international presence this year and it has been the best of the British. I think America vastly undervalues the importance of soft power. It has a tendency to focus on the tangible and the concrete."

As well as Britain and the US swapping places in the list, Germany moved up from fourth to third place, as the "undisputed leader of a creaking European Union". South Korea moved up from 14th to 11th, after hosting a number of international summits, performing well at the Olympics and solidifying its position as a driver of innovation. Brazil had one of the biggest jumps, going from 21st to 17th, as fast growth and an increasing international interest, ahead of the next World Cup and Olympics, propel the country forward.

Sport

The Olympics brought global attention to the UK, with Team GB winning 65 medals. Bradley Wiggins conquered the Tour de France and Andy Murray took his first Grand Slam title in New York.

Film

Bond – synonymous with Britishness – was everywhere. Appearing with the Queen in the Olympics opening ceremony, then in cinemas, with the global franchise's biggest ever release, Skyfall.

Tourism

Some 29 million visit the UK a year, while just 62 million visit the US.

Entertainment

British actors have become some of America's favourite TV and film stars, including Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody in Homeland) and Dominic West (Detective Jimmy McNulty in The Wire).

Music

A total of 22 British albums made No 1 in foreign countries this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living