Generalizations about cultures or nationalities can be a source of pride, anger or simply bad jokes. Some people say that in all stereotype there is some basis in reality, as they don’t develop in vacuum.
To give a more serious definition: “National Stereotype is a system of culture-specific beliefs connected with the nationality of a person. This system includes beliefs concerning those properties of human beings that may vary across nations, such as appearance, language, food, habits, psychological traits, attitudes, values etc.”
True cold-blooded scientists warn, that “National character stereotypes are not even exaggerations of real differences: They are fictions.”
But why judge, before we know what we are talking about?
Please take everything below with a grain of salt; as I only summed up what others wrote on the internet. We all know that there are black and white sheep in every herd. I tried to strike a balance between positive and negative national or personality traits – but sometimes it was very difficult, due to lack of positive stereotypes. :-(
There are plenty of scientific studies about this subject on the net as well. I tried to spice up my findings a bit and take out the seriousness of some of those dry papers; if you are interested how it could look if done by psychologists; check out the picture further below to the right.
So without further ado – let’s steal each others sunshine (just a bit) and start here with some general, sometimes contradicting, often nasty, but also some positive stereotypes:
- American – arrogant; assertive; open-minded; materialistic; ambitious; progressive; efficient; straight-forward; alert; practical; US-centered world view; egoistic; anxious; fast food eaters; war mongers; God is with us!
- Arabs – intelligent; modest; insecure; anxious; impulsive; “billionaires, bombers and belly dancers“, men wear beards and are womanizers; have subservient and repressed women who wear burka or headscarf; “play & pray” attitude; love celebrations and ceremonies; tea and shisha are important; God is great!
- Argentinians – disagreeable; megalomaniac; warm and friendly people; can be vain & arrogant; beautiful women; cultured society; lazy; disrupting protesters
- Austrians – anxious; traditional; wearing ‘Lederhosen’; yodel the whole day to ‘Volksmusik’; polite; efficient service people, but bureaucratic; modest; not superior-minded; old-fashioned; somewhat cosmopolitan; honest; love the little treats in life like ‘Sachertorte’, beer and good wine
- Australians – party animals; nature lovers; surf all day – drink all night; have surfer chicks; heavy binge drinkers; neurotic; extroverted; sometimes shallow but honest; open-minded; free spirited; love to joke; “hail-fellow-well-met” or “chummy” attitude; men are useless dads; have barbie loving home cooking mums; uncultured; Crocodile Dundee outsider types; sports lovers; meat eaters; bush battling rednecks
- Bangladeshis – poor; unconventional; adaptive; open-minded; agreeable; hardworking; politically inactive; intelligent but poorly educated; productive; inoffensive; often corrupt; poor personal hygiene; taking side-steps to get things done; community and family-oriented; working long hours for minimum pay; masculine behavior of men, showing manliness is important; naturally very friendly and hospitable towards foreigners; younger generation well educated
- Belgians – make good beer; poor personal hygiene; good at mathematics; dishonest in money matters; make bad lovers; hermetically private food-lovers; penchant for building houses and garden sheds; fake ornament decorations; distrust of authority; tax evaders; often run shady side businesses; introverted; modest; impostors for other nationalities; but sometimes overly patriotic; everyone is a neighbor – but more stupid then oneself; eat only french & fries, except chocolate and other sweet stuff; multi-lingual; everyones owns diamonds; “pee where they go”
- Bulgarians – survive on tomato, cucumber and goat cheese only; colorful traditions; natural; open-minded; skiers or sun-worshipers; open, warm and kind people; traditional; let bears dance on fire; skilled craftsmen, farmers and artisans; nationalists; “catastrophic” social consciousness; tolerant; feeble religiousness; lack of fanaticism; condescending attitude; curiosity and openness to the “otherness”; anxious; fearful; efficient; accurate; precise; hardworking; disciplined; clever; highly qualified; drama kings and queens; overly suspicious
- Brazilians – body-centric; party animals; impulsive; incestuous; megalomaniac; most women are super-models, most men are gay or machos; always late; carnivals addicts; soccer and coffee lovers; criminals and robbers; lazy/manana attitude; bean and meat eaters; beach and sun-worshipers; bikini (called: dental floss here) inventors; active; inventive and constructive people; always trying to outwit government and regulations; impossibly favor-oriented; family- and community-oriented
- British (UK) – drinkers; lousy food; stiff upper-lips; ultra-traditional; steady-on, old chaps; bulldog spirit; bad teeth and hygiene; rude; thin; smoke cigar or pipe; scruffy hair; “fitted” clothing; heavy binge drinkers; swear all day long; artistic; “fashionable”; deep thinkers; intelligent and articulate; boastful; anti-American; ride bikes; God save the Queen!
- Canadians – submissive; neurotic; agreeable; modest; open-minded; progressive; efficient; straight-forward; polite; respectful; anxious; law-abiding; orderly; caring for handicapped/elderly/minorities; tolerant; multi-lingual; moderate; no hero/celebrity worshiping; don’t like successful people; anti-American; passive; boring; socialist mindset; eat blubber; wear funny hats; live in igloos further north
- Cayman Islanders – secretive; money-oriented; tax evasive; unsavory; hospitable; but introverted
- Colombians – impulsive; aggressive; violent; kidnappers & narco-traffickers; merengue dancers; passionate; educated; hard-working; caring and listening people; nature lovers
- Czech – agreeable; heavy beer drinkers; bohemian lifestyle; live and let live attitude; tolerant; “He’s a Czech, he never smiles at people he doesn’t know”; easy-to-get women; introverted; frightened and defensive attitude toward other cultures and the outside world
- Chinese – stingy and noisy spitters; fast-learners; open-minded; ambitious; progressive; efficient; materialistic; do kung fu and other material arts; great at mathematics; can’t hold their liquor; terrible drivers; arrogant; assertive; very “short” somewhere private but “bigger” than Japanese; wear glasses; pirate and copy everything; don’t value contracts; cheap labor; drink green tea; eat everything that lives – even tiger balls, bear gall bladder, rhino horns and sea cucumber; smoke opium; business-oriented; money rules the world; prepare for world domination
- Danish – open-minded; somber; introverted; prudish; cold-resistant; decadent hedonists; urban; jovial; untrustworthy; beer-drinking; happy-go-lucky; vaguely unhygienic; profoundly disorganized; sociable and relaxed; easy-going
- Dutch – polite; open-minded; well-traveled; no commitments; boring, but provoking; organized and efficient; harmless; “a nation of rosy-cheeked farmers who live in windmills, wear clogs, have a garden full of tulips and sit on piles of yellow cheese”; opinionated; can be stubborn and incurably mean; downright devious in business affairs; formidable merchants; “Where a Dutchman has passed, not even the grass grows anymore” a Japanese saying goes; an English pamphlet raged: “A Dutchman is a Lusty, Fat, Two-legged Cheese worm. A Creature that is so addicted to eating butter, drinking fat, and sliding (skating) that all the world knows him for a slippery fellow” – at this time the English language gained a whole array of new insults such as “Dutch courage” (booze-induced bravery), “Dutch comfort” (“Things could be worse”) and “Dutch gold” (alloy resembling gold). Others include: “Double Dutch” (gibberish), “Dutch cap” (contraceptive diaphragm), “Dutch wife”/”Dutch widow” (prostitute; sex doll), “Dutch uncle” (harsh admonisher)
- Finnish – vodka-lovers; modest; polite; somber; introverted; reserved; honest; curvy straight-talkers; trustworthy; quiet; serious; diligent and humble; tough negotiators and demanding businessmen; nit pickers; melancholic; very tall and blond; they love nature; frugal; calm; sturdy; sauna fans; have attractive women
- French – good lovers; best cuisine in the world; chaotic; irresponsible; introverted; selfish; cultured; social “players”; do not like to work – prefer to strike; always surrender in war; don’t speak English; rude to tourists; anti-American; ungrateful; live in a bureaucratic Socialist system, totally dependent on the state; don’t use soap; arrogant and conceited; distant and difficult to meet; don’t respect religious freedom; snobs; God who?
- Germans – mechanical; organized; boring; no sense of humor; conscientious; drink beer all day – beer-bellied; always shake hands; born with a monkey wrench in their hands, eating vast quantities of sausage and sauerkraut; men have dodgy facial hair, women are icy Teutonic beauties with blond hair and blue eyes; legendary bureaucracy; both sexes loathe inefficiency, love the Fatherland, have never been late for anything in their lives, and would secretly like to invade Europe, even if they have to do it via the EU; eat about five huge meals a day; follow blindly rules and regulations like “don’t walk on public lawn” and “before crossing the road, wait for the little green man to show even if there is no car in sight”; pedophiliac
- Greek – are big and overweight; lazy; eat souvlaki and olives and drink Ouzo or red wine all day; always break their plates after meals; can’t drive – especially when its dark; disorganized; heavy meat eaters; own all oil-tankers in the world; live the easy life; corrupt; impossible planners; cultured, inefficient; live in “unkempt” buildings with “raggedy curtains”, empty beer cans, kegs or rusted automobiles clutter their yards; have beautiful women, as long they are young – men are mainly homosexual or sexual predators
- Hungarians – good drivers; salami addicts; hot cuisine full of pepper and paprika; use oversized pencils; “a small nation struggling and surviving against the odds”; oppressors turned troublemakers; indigenous; often desperate and hopeless; calm and objective way of thinking; courage; audacity and insistence on ideas
- Indians – unconventional; adaptive; open-minded; agreeable; manipulative; hardworking; politically inactive; studious; intelligent; productive; inoffensive; poor personal hygiene; meditating or walking over fire, pinching needles through their mouth, in hands, legs and other private parts; spiritual, generally poor; snake charmers; legendary bureaucrats; huge families; love to watch soap operas; will outsource the whole world
- Indonesians – fearful; neurotic; extroverted; conscientious; warm and friendly people; lazy; live for today – who cares about tomorrow; no planners; religious; family-oriented; supportive; invented the rubber-time/rarely on time; corrupt; superstitious; slow; inferior; polite; lacking discipline; use feeling not logic; do not follow rules; hypocritical; resistant to change; tolerant; low profile; unwilling to confront or give ‘bad news’; silent in meetings; can’t swim
- Italians – Gigolos; live with their Mamas; even more chaotic than the French; possessive; passionate; pizza/pasta freaks; creative accountants; smooth-talking; manipulative; dishonest; women have mustaches; fashion-addicted; Casanovas; mafia or gang members;
- Irish – loud; no sense of cuisine; impulsive; glass of whiskey or beer in his/her hand; Celtic music fanatics; have red hair and “white-white” skin; live and sleep with their sheep; religious fanatics and protesters
- Israelis – arrogant; religious; strong family relations; well-traveled; anxious; noisy; rude; curse locals on travels; travel in packs only; ruin things if not satisfied; argue over the price of anything – even a cup of tea for a few cent; don’t respect local people; party all night; take a lot of drugs; if people say something against them, then they are surely Nazis; fancy and fashionable women in tight swimsuits; dream of migrating to other countries if their mother would let them; God help us!
- Jamaicans – lazy; grass-smokers; reggae and rasta maniacs; modest; impulsive; loud; boisterous and aggressive; most look like Bob Marley in the morning; strong sense of self and their culture; innovative musicians who influenced many genres; survivors – willing and able to create something from nothing; strong traditional families; caring for others in need; proud God fearing people; want American women and American dollars; don’t like American blacks; not too smart; the life goal of men is to have plenty of babies with multiple women; like patties, Winston, Stella, Ackee and Saltfish; always late; live in trees; walk barefoot and live generally very primitive; want to migrate some place else; every man in Kingston owns a gun; Jamaican women go to the Bahamas and the rest of the Caribbean to look for foreign men; all Jamaican men are uncircumcised; all they care are weed, beach, women and rum; God is Bob Marley!
- Japanese – disciplined; organized; very techy; fearful; neurotic; extroverted; competent; short; wealthy due to being a running dog of the US; workaholics; perverted; bathe in unisex public showers; buy sex toys and porn from vending machines; very “short” somewhere private but “bigger” than Chinese; women are subservient to men and make perfect devoted wives; raw-fish eaters; suicidal, arrive in packs
- Korean (South) – ‘kimchi’ is the only food; open-minded; ambitious; progressive; efficient; materialistic; arrogant; assertive; women are passive; ultra-modern; tech-savy; love gossip; traditional; women may be viewed by outsiders as having low status, being economically dependent, living in social isolation, and being virtual slaves; but actually, they were never confined to the house; they visit friends, shop, and go to popular theater presentations; women, as they grow older, speak their mind with impunity
- Laotians – religious; Buddhists; family-oriented; weed smokers; MSG lovers; warm & friendly people; relocated & traumatized refugees; Boat People; farmers; copy the Thai cuisine; eat only sticky rice; wear baggy trousers; hospitable; relaxed; know how to enjoy life; believe in karma and spirits; politically inactive and uninterested
- Luxembourg – all rich bankers; shady characters with black hats; manipulative; secretive; introverted; live from money laundering and fund managing; hard-working, intelligent; good in mathematics and monetary transactions
- Malaysians – lazy; anxious; neurotic; manipulative; survive by cronyism and nepotism; introverted; have inferiority complex; arrogant; have speed traps everywhere; ultra-religious, but sell porn everywhere; inhospitable, hate Westerners; boring; have great varieties of food; embrace multi-culturalism; wear bright, colorful clothes; every long-term visitor is expected to convert to Islam; love to watch soap operas; men chauvinistic, have mistresses; women traditional but with modern thinking
- Mexicans – heavy tequila drinkers; impulsive; wear huge sombreros; religious; family-oriented; neurotic; modest; megalomaniac, men overweight with golden teeth and 3-day-beard, women attractive and easy to get; all women look like Salma Hayek; sneaky; banditos; maids or illegal immigrants; lazy; never finish anything – not even revolution; either sleeping, leaning against a cactus or bored; warm & friendly people; hospitable; great food (enchiladas, tortillas, burritos) and cheap cost-of-living; a real land of the free; mystical cults; human traffickers into the US
- Moroccans – wants everything gratis; look like Ali Baba; live in an Oasis in the desert surrounded by palm trees; traditional; hospitable; nomads roaming the sands on camels; mysterious; have exotic food; human traffickers into Europe; poor people; lost paradise; polygamists; Casablanca!
- Nepalese – poor and unemployed, but religious; peace-loving separatists; love colorful clothes, flags and fabrics; illiterate; suppressed and exploited women; tolerant; struggling to survive; anti-Indian; cultured; enlightened
- New Zealanders – neurotic; extroverted; strong; unemotional; kiwi-eaters and farmers; provincial; pastoral; lack of sophistication; without any modern cosmopolitan nature; quainted; laid-back; relaxed; productive; opportunity-offering and seeking; multi-racial, tolerant; MacGyver mentality; unconventional; the 3 R’s: “Rugby, Racing & Beer”; independent; unfeminine women, wearing only masculine clothing; disregard intellectuals; farming Frodos; distrust politicians
- Nigerians – internet scam artists & drug dealers; violent; neurotic; open-minded; modest; manipulative; hard-working; creative; enjoy life; practice bizarre cults; sacrifice their first-born children; corrupt; love money; always horny; women enjoy house management works
- Norwegians – modest; somber; introverted; trolls, blond-haired, blue-eyed; rational and bored; boring; dependent on welfare state and petroleum; lax rules of sexual morality; institutionalized yearning for nature and simplicity; alcoholics; uneducated; stupid country bumpkin; rural traditions; rustic and unsophisticated fish-eaters; lamentable manners and muddy boots; stunning petroleum wealth
- Pakistani – hardworking; politically inactive; studious; intelligent; productive; and inoffensive; low-paid; do dirty jobs; cricket-addicted; anti-Indian; wild-eyed fanatics; militaristic; emotional
- Philippines – “region of natural and man-made disasters”; religious; have large, extended families; neurotic; modest; love to watch soap operas; cars are old patched American jeeps (jeepneys); tricycles are everywhere; chaotic traffic; colorful; kidnapping of foreigners is a favorite past-time – besides cock-fighting; obsession with cellphones and SMS; women call their husbands ‘master’; everyone has at least 3.000 pair of shoes; drama kings and queens; oversea workers sacrifice comfort, endure loneliness and abuse to work abroad to support & satisfy their families neverendingly; exotic foods and fruits; 7.000 exotic islands; warm & smiling people; love Karaoke; cheerful bantering; “Hey, Joe!”; God is Jesus, Mary and the holy trinity!
- Polish – neurotic; never smile but complain a lot; hard bargainers; babysitters; intolerant; heavy alcohol users; your car will be stolen, once you cross the border; easy-going; conservative; intellectual; attractive women, aggressive men – always up to pick a fight; excellent drivers; hard-working; helpful; listen to folk music; sit in church all day if nothing else to do; very religious
- Portuguese – ignorant; violent; love buffoonery; kind; rural people with ‘Singer’ sewing machines; bull fighters; meat eaters; drink port wine; love celebrations; well traveled hundreds of years ago – now more introverted; always longing for something, but don’t know what; feel lonely; nostalgic; “the past old days were the best”; waiting for the next hero to come; prefer to live a simple life and mocks the powerful
- Romanians – directly related to Dracula; everyone owns a mystic castle in the Carpate mountains in Transylvania, backwards-oriented; primitive; refuse to work; have to many children; slow; ingenious; trying hard – but never succeed; mistrust police and government; love to celebrate; “women are mothers and wives, trafficking of women, prostitution, domestic violence and sexual harassment is their own fault”; manipulative; nationalists; stable and value-oriented
- Russians – aggressive; rude; good tippers, big spenders; generally generous; open-minded; agreeable; love their “babushkas” and the last Czar; either spys or communists; alcoholics (primarily Stolichnaya vodka); mainly poor – with a few shiny billionaires; buy football clubs around the world (mainly in England); love ice hockey, gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting; organized crime (the Russian Mafia) is everywhere; overweight; have deep hearty laughs; threatening nuclear war; want to invade with MIG fighter jets; ultra-orthodox Christians; love to secretly poison their enemies with uranium injections; warmongering similar to Americans
- Singaporeans – adaptive; super-efficient; fearful; anxious; crime-averse; rich; selfish; money-oriented; hard-working; clean; stylish; organized; disciplined; tolerant; introverted; career- and certificate-oriented; multi-cultural; love to eat chicken rice; over-regulated; obedient to government and hierarchies; fashionable; against chewing gum and smoking; are ‘kiasu’ – an extreme fear of losing/missing out; “women are materialistic, superficial, high-maintenance, have their heads too high up in the clouds, narcissistic; men are similar, just add boring, egoistic and they live with their parents”; love shopping – love SHOPPING!; the 5 C’s: “Cash, Car, Credit Card, Condominium, Country Club Membership”
- South Africans – impulsive, racists; disease-infested; tribal; poor; community-oriented; strong masculine men; repressed women; proud; love to sing and dance; colorful celebrations; have short life; live in a dangerous country; suspicious; materialistic; apathetic; regretful; egoistic; pessimistic; revengeful; love TV; enjoy life to the fullest
- Sri Lankis – aggressive separatists; lazy; jealous; rebellious; ardent defenders of faith; friendly & warm people; conservative; strong beliefs in cultural norms; extreme traditional; uneducated, unskilled and unemployed; patriarchic and devoted women; believe in “natural evolution of things”; entrepreneurs; sometimes naughty deal makers; opportunist linguists – ‘Neither here nor there’
- Spaniards – lazy; party animals; womanizers; food lovers (Paella); extroverted; untidy; conscientious; impulsive; megalomaniac; bull fighters; always late; “know how to live”; wine-drinking and ham-eating; temperamental; affectionate; look like Antonio Banderas; emotional cry-babies; sophisticated; everybody smokes and talks all the time; proud and patriotic; fashionable, love to dance; relaxed; nationalists; cultured; respect their rights and duties; history and ancestry are important; leisure culture; open-minded and warm people;
- Swedish – conscientious; blond-haired, blue-eyed; wealthy; enlightened; rational and bored; boring; dependent on their welfare state; lax rules of sexual morality; institutionalized yearning for nature and simplicity; heavy drinkers; modest; introverted; sophisticated and modern
- Swiss – rich; competent; introverted; modest; anxious; serious; multi-lingual; brand-affine; nit pickers, hard bargainers; watch makers; sit in the mountains, ‘yodel’ and milk their cows; play 12m long Alpine horns; ruddy cheeked; pretty smug because of the fresh mountain air; their trains always run on time; their diet is chocolate and holey-cheese; women are mostly blond, never grow old, like to help milking the cattle and are usually called Heidi; live in wooden huts on the mountainside; each room has at least one cuckoo clock; except people in Zurich: those are sharp-suited secretive bankers hoarding Nazi gold and helping out corrupt politicians and gangsters; obsessed with the environment, cleanliness and punctuality; tight on the rules; very private
- Taiwanese – ambitious; progressive; super-efficient; materialistic; descended from the Kuo Min Tang, the running dogs of the American imperialists who fled to Taiwan in 1949, taking enough priceless national treasures with them to ensure their wealth right up to the present day; tech-savy, independent, proud
- Thai – impulsive; manipulative; fun-loving (“Sanuk”); conservative; speak/sing a funny language; most women are hot and sexy and work in massage parlous or in bars; men rent out motor bikes or get drunk on Mekong Whiskey on the beach – except ladyboys; nationalists; suspicious towards foreigners; polite; good care-takers; can cook well; greedy; narrow-minded; promiscuous; dishonest; traditional; shy in public; family-oriented; religious; self-confident; independent; intelligent; ignorant; can get very violent and unreasonable very swiftly; can’t pronounce ‘R’; proud and patriotic; superiority-complex; resourceful; street-smart; emotional; Long live the King!
- Turkish – neurotic; conscientious; impulsive; lazy; oppressive; nationalists; intelligent; belly dancers; live from Kebab and Raki; men wear long bended swords in baggy trousers and turbans, have long beards; women wear a headscarf;
- Vietnamese – modest; mystical; obscure, wear funny hats and sleep in rice fields; eat baguette and strawberry jam or pate; hard-working; friendly; helpful
An interesting read is as well is this list of Ethnic Slurs, that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a critical, disrespectful, disapproving or contemptuous, or downright insulting manner in the English-speaking world.
After reading all those stereotypes, I’m a bit shocked that a lot of them – if not most – are pretty negative or even insulting. Don’t you think it’s a bit strange, how much effort most people around the world invest, to classify their neighbors? After all we are made from the same wood and soil; but somehow that seems to got lost along the way.
Anyway – I hope you could smile a bit from time to time, even though most of them *are* quite nasty. It’s maybe part of the human conscience to concentrate on bad or negative things, instead of concentrating on the things that connect us.
Please feel free to comment and to add your own experiences.
And please correct the worst quoted nightmares which peek in your eyes!
Maybe we can all help to put some of the worst stereotypes to rest.
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