Exceptional interest in Finland: NATO has boosted Finland’s country image

Almost half of the respondents to an international country image survey indicated that their perception of Finland improved during the last year. Finland’s NATO membership process has greatly contributed to increasing Finland’s visibility abroad and to improving perceptions of Finland.

An international country image study commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs reveals that Finland’s NATO membership process has drawn exceptional attention to Finland. The survey was carried out in ten countries: the United States, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Türkiye, South Korea, China and Russia. As many as 72% of the respondents recalled having heard news about Finland during the past year. Finland’s NATO process was mentioned by 49% as the news event they remember about Finland.

High visibility has affected perceptions of Finland

Finland’s overall visibility was record high in 2022. The Foreign Ministry’s own media monitoring shows that Finland’s international visibility doubled or even tripled in 2022 compared to 2021. In May 2022, the number of internet searches for Finland grew tenfold compared to the year start average. The highest numbers of searches were related to Finland’s political leadership and to the EU and NATO. Interest in Finland’s Defence Forces and Finland’s relations with Türkiye grew the most.

News about Finland has improved people's perceptions of Finland: half of the respondents who recalled news about Finland indicated that the news coverage had a positive impact on their perception of Finland. Because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have examined the survey results also without the Russian responses. In this light, as many as 54% of the respondents indicated that the news coverage improved their perception of Finland.

Finland’s image improved significantly

Overall, perceptions of Finland have become more positive. Disregarding the Russian responses, 48% of the respondents indicated that their perception of Finland improved during the last year. Only 3% reported that their perception worsened. Among the Russian respondents, 17% indicated an improvement and 28% a worsening in their perception of Finland.

The survey shows that perceptions of Finland have changed the most in India, Brazil, Türkiye and the United States. Perceptions of Finland during the past year improved among 82% of respondents in India, 63% in Brazil, 54% in Türkiye and 52% in the United States.

When asked about the reasons for the improvement in their perception, 20% of the respondents mentioned Finnish people, 14% the NATO process, and 10% the Government and foreign policy. Other reasons mentioned were economic growth (9%), environment (8%), global causes (7%), education (7%), stance in the war in Ukraine (7%) and public policy (5%).

Finland’s NATO membership process affects perceptions

As many as 74% of the respondents who are aware of NATO and its mission reported being aware of Finland’s NATO membership process. Disregarding the Russian responses, 56% of the respondents who are aware of NATO indicated that news about Finland’s NATO process has improved their overall perception of Finland. The greatest positive impact was in the United States, where 77% of the respondents reported an improvement in their perception of Finland. Only 14% of the Russian respondents indicated that Finland’s NATO process had improved their perception, while 50% reported that their perception had worsened. In China, improved perception and worsened perception were reported by 28% of the respondents, respectively. In the other countries, the share of respondents reporting an improvement was higher than the share reporting a worsening.

Finland’s NATO process had a positive impact on the respondents’ willingness to relocate to Finland (43%), to visit Finland (49%), to invest in Finland (47%) and to buy Finnish products (47%). Disregarding the Russian responses, more than 50% of the respondents indicated that they would be more willing to visit Finland, invest in Finland and buy Finnish products because of the NATO process.

Information about the survey

The survey is based on the responses of about 4,000 adults in middle or high income households. All the respondents were internationally active: they have lived or studied abroad, they travel abroad at least a twice year or their job involves dealing with international clients. All the respondents have a graduate degree. The study was conducted by Bloom Consulting in July–August 2022.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will be publishing more research results about Finland’s country image in early 2023 with the release of the annual overview of Finland’s country image and Finland in the World Media survey.

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Inquiries and interview requests

  • Meira Pappi, Country Image Specialist, Unit for Public Diplomacy, tel. +358 40 140 8940
  • The email addresses of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are in the format firstname.lastname@formin.fi.