…that came with the instructions to: Type in to your search bar ‘Why is [Country] so’ then see what the autofill gives you. Being an Australian, I immediately tried…
I found this interesting, and soon after, began my own research in to how a broader global study would look. After several hours, I had this picture to share (details on method later in post)…..
Let me state outright that this is not in any way meant to represent the ‘wealth’ or economic positions of nations. The main drivers behind what this represents will (as a result of Google autofill methodology) be a representation of what primarily Western cultures ask about different countries on the internet. At best this could be considered a study in perceptions. While there may be some correlation between perception and fact, it should also be remembered that the two are not necessarily the same. Especially when it comes to the internet (more on that later).
One thing I did find immediately interesting was the fact that only four countries returned Happy in their search. And if I had been asked to guess which four, I would have gotten at least three of them wrong. The four were: Bhutan, Costa Rica, Denmark, and Switzerland. I might have guessed Switzerland. How could a country famous for chocolate, cheese and not participating in wars not be happy?
I found the sociological perspective this activity generated to be fascinating. It is that simple.
What does it all mean?
That, I shall leave others to posit.
The internet’s perception of the post.
I started this of an evening. Around 11:30pm my eyelids were drooping and I have just finished my first attempt at filling in the red countries. It was bed time, but I thought I would share my progress with a wider audience. So I posted the pic to the IMGUR gallery.
The timing of the post was during IMGUR’s deadest hours so I was not expecting a huge response. Some of the responses I received were interesting, and even related to the point about the difference between perception and fact. There were 32 comments to the post. They fell in to the following categories (I include my replies to the comments added. They have the OP against the blurred name.).
- Category 1: Critical
- Category 2: This is wrong
- Category 3: Snide/sarcastic comment (later withdrawn in this example)
- Category 4: Supportive (only one comment fell in this category)
The clear majority of the commenters completely failed to recognise that this was never intended to represent actual country economies. I accept a level of responsibility for this as my explanation was minimal, mainly because I was trying to finish up and get some sleep. I can only theorize that most of the commenters never bothered to read beyond the title before adding their commentary. I would argue that this characteristic is the reason why there is a difference between perception and fact, particularly on the internet.
First, the map is not quite right. I couldn’t find one that was exactly what I wanted, so ended up blending two different maps, and drawing in several sections by hand using MSPaint. Good enough for its intended purpose, methinks.
Second point is that I used Google autofill for this, and collated the first three responses only. Then I coloured the map in priority order, so that even though a country may have returned both ‘Poor’ and ‘Dangerous’, it will be in red because I filled in ‘Poor’ first. The key is the order of priority given. I do include some fourth results in the complete list at the end of this post. These are included only where the fourth result was unique. Patently, the priority has the potential to significantly change the map. After filling in Poor and Rich, the following selections were placed in descending order of how many of the as yet uncoloured countries had returned that result. I felt this was the most unbiased method. In a sense it is also unfortunate as excluding the Expensive result would have allowed a number of more stimulating (to my mind) result to have come into prominence.
Third point. The internet is volatile. Google autofill will return different results based on region and language. Also, things change and if people start performing these searches generally, it wont take long before other individuals begin manipulating the results. Speaking of which, a quick note to anyone that is from a country that returned no results. If it were my country, I would immediately be posting something to the internet like ‘Why is Niger so full of unicorns’ or something along those lines. Then anyone doing the same search I did will get that as a result.
Fourth point. I started by using THIS site in an attempt to capture every country. Unfortunately, many countries are too small on this map to properly represent. So a full table of results will be added to the end of this post. Also, the site used does not exactly match with the map. I reconciled as best I could. At the end where I had gaps, I searched the remaining locations individually and added them to the list. Therefore, again, my list of countries should not be considered a source of truth. Countries also change names and borders over time so please do not even consider this an accurate snapshot.
Fifth point. Searching countries by their official names often returned no results. eg: Timor Leste returned nothing. When this happened, I used names more common to Westerners (eg: East Timor). This can have a huge impact on effects. For example, Republic of Korea returns nothing, South Korea returns Rich, Successful, and Weird. Korea returns, Cold, Good at League of Legends, and Good at Starcraft. Also the top search for Jordan returned a result that was odd and quickly confirmed that the source of the autofill had nothing to do with the country. I have tried to filter such occurrences but can make no guarantees.
Final point. I am not a cartographer, researcher or by trade, and the only quality checking performed on this post is that described in the Internet’s Perception section of this post. There are likely to be errors still in the picture or results provided. If the map has errors based on the data I post, please feel free to contact me through this blog and I will make corrections. If, however, you simply disagree with the perceptions presented, or get different results with your own autofill experimentation, I will not be making amendments for those. For example; when some countries returned Evil as a response, it would have been easy to remove those results in order to avoid controversy. I elected to present the results without editing so as to remain neutral. I have already explained the basis for this amateur study. The method is flawed. The logic is flawed. The results are therefore flawed. If my audience has the time to read this post, then they should also have understood one of the themes within, being the difference between perception and fact.
The Full List of Results by Country
Please refer to the Method section of this post for how this list of countries was derived.
Afghanistan: Poor, Corrupt, Backward. Albania: Poor, Bad, Dangerous. Algeria: Dangerous. American Samoa: Fat. Andorra: Small, Healthy. Angola: Expensive, Poor. Anguilla: Expensive. Antigua and Barbuda: Expensive. Argentina: Poor, Racist, European. Armenia: Poor, Good at Chess. Aruba: Poor, Cheap, Bad. Australia: Hot, Dry, Racist. Austria: Rich, Small, Fearful of Nationalism and Liberalism. Azerbaijan: Good at wrestling, Rich. Bahamas, The: Popular, Expensive. Bahrain: Densely Populated, Rich. Bangladesh: Poor, Densely Populated, Populated. Barbados: Foreign to the narrator, Popular, Densely Populated. Belarus: Poor, Scary. Belgium: Rich, Popular, Densely Populated. Belize: Expensive, Poor, Dangerous. Benin: Poor. Bermuda: Warm, Rich, Wealthy. Bhutan: Happy, Expensive, Poor. Bolivia: Unfriendly, Poor, Underdeveloped. Bosnia: Poor. Botswana: Rich, Successful, Expensive. Bougainville: no results. Brazil: Violent, Poor, Big. British Indian Ocean: no results. British Virgin Islands: no results. Brunei: Rich, Small, Peaceful. Bulgaria: Poor, Cheap, Unhappy. Burkina Faso: Poor. Burundi: Poor. Cambodia: Poor, Corrupt, Hot. Cameroon: Poor. Canada: Cold, Awesome, Great. Cape Verde Islands: Cheap, Windy. Cayman Islands: Expensive. Central African Republic: Poor. Chad: Poor, Expensive, Weak. Chile: Long, Rich, Dry. China, Hong Kong: Rich, Polluted, Expensive. China, Macau: Densely Populated, Rich, Popular. China, People’s Republic: Polluted, Rich, Powerful. China, Taiwan: Dirty, Important to China, Rich. Colombia: Expensive, Violent, Dangerous. Comoros: Poor. Congo, Democratic Republic of: Poor, Dangerous, Violent. Congo, Republic of: no results. Cook Islands: no results. Costa Rica: Expensive, Safe, Happy. Cote d’Ivoire: Poor. Croatia: Beautiful, Racist, Good at football. Cuba: Poor, Cheap, Bad. Cyprus: Hot, Important, Expensive. Czech Republic: Poor, Atheist. Denmark: Happy, Rich, Socialist. Djibouti: Expensive, Poor, Hot. Dominica: no results. Dominican Republic: Poor, Cheap, Good at Baseball. Ecuador: Cheap, Poor, Named. Egypt: Poor, Hot, Important. El Salvador: Small, Densely Settled, Poor. Equatorial Guinea: Rich, Wealthy. Eritrea: Poor, Censored. Estonia: Atheist, Poor, Irreligious. Ethiopia: Poor, Populated, Underdeveloped. Faeroe Islands: no results. Falkland Islands: Important, Important to Argentina, Important to Britain. Federated States of Micronesia: Fat. Fiji: Expensive, Popular, Hot. Finland: Rich, Expensive, Smart. France: Gay, Racist, Popular. French Guiana: no results. Gabon: Rich, Expensive. Gambia, The: Poor, Small, Cheap. Georgia: Cheap, Great, Cold. Germany: Rich, Powerful, Clean. Ghana: Poor, Important, Underdeveloped. Gibraltar: Important, Small. Greece: Important, Poor, Tectonically Active. Greenland: Big on maps, Cold, Called. Guadeloupe: no results. Guam: Important to the US, Hot, Important. Guatemala: Poor, Violent, Dangerous. Guinea: Poor. Guinea-Bissau: Poor. Guyana: Poor, Sparsely Populated, Expensive. Haiti: Poor, Bad. Holy See (Vatican City State): Rich, Wealthy, Important. Honduras: Violent, Dangerous, Poor. Hungary: Poor, Racist, Small. Iceland: Expensive, Safe, Peaceful. India: Poor, Polluted, Hot. Indonesia: Important to Australia, Corrupt, Populated. Iran: Powerful ,Evil, Dangerous. Iraq: Dangerous, Hot, Poor. Ireland: Green, Expensive, Sparsely Populated. Israel: Important, Rich, Evil. Italy: Racist, Expensive, Corrupt, Romantic. Jamaica: Violent, Popular, Dangerous. Japan: Weird, Clean, Rich. Jerusalem: Important, Special. Jordan: Dumb, Expensive, Poor. Kazakhstan: Big, Cold, Poor. Kenya: Poor, Popular with Tourists, Good at Running. Korea, Democratic People’s Republic: Poor, Dangerous, Crazy. Korea, Republic of: Rich, Successful, Weird. Kosovo: Important to Modern-Day Serbs, Poor, Important to Serbs. Kuwait: Rich. Kyrgyzstan: no results. Laos: Poor, Expensive. Latvia: Poor, Expensive. Lebanon: Important, Expensive, Liberal. Lesotho: Poor, Small. Liberia: Poor, Messed Up, Dangerous. Libya: Hot, Poor, Important. Liechtenstein: Rich, Small. Lithuania: Suicidal, Poor, Small. Luxembourg: Rich, Small, Attractive to Foreign Companies. Macedonia: Important. Madagascar: Poor, Diverse, Speical, Unique. Malawi: Poor, Underdeveloped. Malaysia: Corrupt, Racist, Hot. Maldives: Expensive, Densely Populated, Special, Famous. Mali: Poor, Underdeveloped, Important. Malta: Cheap, Densely Populated, Hot. Martinique: No results. Mauritania: Poor, Sparsely Populated. Mauritius: Expensive, Densely Populated, Successful. Mayotte: No results. Mexico: Violent, Corrupt, Dangerous. Moldova: Poor. Monaco: Rich, Wealthy, Small. Mongolia: Poor, Sparsely Populated, Small. Montenegro: No results. Montserrat: No results. Morocco: Cheap, Expensive, Popular. Mozambique: Poor, Expensive, Isolated. Namibia: Sparsely Populated, Dry, Unequal. Nauru: Obese, Fat. Nepal: Poor, Dirty, Popular. Netherlands: Good at Speed Skating, Liberal, Rich. Netherlands Antilles: No results. New Caledonia: Expensive. New Zealand: Small, Good at Rugby, Expensive, Good at Sport. Nicaragua: Poor, Controversial, Cheap. Niger: No results. Nigeria: Poor, Populated, Corrupt. Norway: Rich, Highly Developed, Expensive, Good at Winter Olympics. Oman: Expensive. Pakistan: Poor, Bad, Dangerous. Palestine: Important, Special, Poor, Holy. Panama: Important, Poor, Important to Central America. Papua New Guinea: Unexplored, Violent, Expensive. Paraguay: Poor. Peru: Dry, Poor, Important. Philippines: Poor, Dirty, Cold. Poland: Weak, Poor, Stupid. Portugal: Poor, Popular, Small, Important to Exploration. Puerto Rico: Cheap, Poor, Violent. Quatar: Rich, Hot, Boring. Réunion: No results. Romania: Poor, Religious, Bad. Russia: Big, Poor, Corrupt. Rwanda: Poor, Densely Populated, Clean. Saint Barthelemy: Expensive, Popular. Saint Helena: No results. Saint Lucia: Expensive, Popular. Saint Martin: No results. Saint Pierre & Miquelon: No results. Saint Vincent: No results. Samoa: Fat, Hot, Religious. San Marino: Bad, Rich, Expensive, Bad at Football. Sao Tomé & Principe: No results. Saudi Arabia: Sexist, Hot, Conservative. Senegal: Poor. Serbia: Poor, Racist, Awesome. Seychelles: Expensive. Sierra Leone: Poor, Underdeveloped. Singapore: Expensive, Small, Rich. Slovakia: Poor. Slovenia: Small, Expensive. Solomon Islands: No results. Somalia: Corrupt, Dangerous, Poor. South Africa: Violent, Poor, Dangerous. Spain: Empty, Poor, Racist. Sri Lanka: Expensive. Sudan: Poor, Dangerous, Hot. Suriname: Poor. Swaziland: Poor. Sweden: Rich, Awesome, Expensive. Syria: Important, Bad, Cold. Tajikstan: Poor. Tanzania: Poor, Expensive, Important to Jane Goodall. Thailand: Cheap, Poor, Cold. Timor Leste: Poor. Togo: Poor, Unhappy. Tokelau Islands: No results. Tonga: Fat, Obese, Special. Trinidad & Tobago: Hot. Tunisia: Cheap, Hot. Turkey: Dry, Cheap, Good. Turkmenistan: Poor. Turks & Caicos Islands: No results. Tuvalu: Poor. Uganda: Homophobic, Poor, Anti Gay. Ukraine: Important to Russia, Important, Corrupt. United Arab Emirates: Rich, Hot, Strict. United Kingdom of BG & NI: Expensive, Powerful, Rich. United States of America: Powerful, Cold, Rich. Uruguay: Good at Football, Liberal, Expensive. US Virgin Islands: No results. Uzbekistan: No results. Vanuatu: Expensive. Venezuela: Dangerous, Poor, Corrupt. Vietnam: Poor, Dirty, Hot. Wallis & Futuna Islands: No results. Western Sahara: Sparsely Populated. Yemen: Poor, Dangerous, Important. Zambia: Poor. Zimbabwe: Poor, Expensive, Corrupt.