Centuries of turmoil, conquest, famine and subsequent immigration have certainly taken their toll on the Irish: it’s left them with a deliciously dark sense of humour and a welcoming attitude towards strangers. That famous ability of the Irish to find craic (fun times) in boom or bust times means you’re always in for a treat.
What’s this? Samoa reckons they have ‘the world’s friendliest people’? Hmmm, trouble is there’s no ratifying body for such a claim, meaning the Samoans have to contend with the challenge of Fiji, which also self-applies the title. Though readers can rest assured that Samoa harbours lovely and warm people.
03. United States
Blamed for the coming of World War III, the Anti-Christ, Bon Jovi, Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, rampant street crime and noise pollution through overloud talking, Americans just take it all in their stride. Americans may be patriotic and love their country but they’ll invariably welcome you and help you get the best out of the United States.
Whereas other African nations are beset by tribal war and fighting, Malawians describe themselves as ‘the friendliest people in Africa. Anyone who’s visited will know that the rare (for Africa) cohesion of the country’s ethnic groups is solid evidence for this, as is the people’s propensity to welcome you into their homes as well as their nation.
Fijians have got plenty to smile about lush islands, kaleidoscopic reefs, cobalt sea, a wealth of marine life, world-class diving, romantic coastlines, awesome cuisine and they love to spread the love around. Fijians have a rep for helping all travellers feel welcome, thereby allowing you to uncover the best from this sprawling group of islands.
It’s hard to make generalisations about a country that contains so many different cultures still, a cliché you’ll hear often is that Indonesian people greet foreigners with open arms. Fact is they do, but the media limelight is stolen by the knack of their law-enforcement officers for welcoming drug dealers and bomb makers in an altogether different ritual.
Vietnam’s another country inextricably caught up in Western images and stereotypes: napalm death; tormented American soldiers; assassins hiding in the rice fields. But Vietnam put all that behind it a long time ago and is now on a drive to become the new ‘Asian’ tiger economy.
Southeast Asia’s most-visited country is bound to offer up a welter of stereotypes and clichès. Here are some of them: dazzling islands and beaches; lush and balmy weather; great shopping and great food; the ‘France of Asia’. The Thai people’s gracious hospitality does indeed take some beating.
Scotland’s becoming the destination for visitors to the British Isles, winning out over London. The Scots have survived English invasion, brutal weather and the pain of having the world’s worst goalkeepers. This fighting spirit against insurmountable odds has left them with an extroverted, buoyant demeanour and a blackly humorous nationalism.
It’s a shame that for such a long time the Western world’s image of Turkey revolved around the drug-smuggling film Midnight Express. Thankfully, we can report the Turkish people actually have an unsurpassed reputation for hospitality. With their heavenly cuisine, dreamy coastline and historical sites, the Turks know there’s no reason to be secretive.