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Why we love (and hate…) the British


From the National Health Service and the Queen, to fish and chips and binge drinking, Britain is laden with numerous stereotypes and clichés – and not all of them are positive.

It's a fact that has been confirmed by the British Council, which works to attract businesses and students to the U.K., and has produced a report on how the country is viewed from around the world.

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The organization asked young adults in Brazil, China, Germany, India and the U.S. to choose the best and worst characteristics of people in the U.K., and here are the – sometime surprising - results.

Worst of British

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When it comes to Brits' worst characteristics, drinking too much was the top answer of those surveyed by the British Council. Some 27 percent said this was the most unappealing habit of people in the U.K., and this percentage rose to a whopping 34 percent among people who had actually visited the country.

Close on the heels of binge drinking was bad eating habits, which a significant minority of those questioned - 23 percent – named as Brits' most unappealing characteristic.

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"The prominence of food as a negative perception is perhaps surprising given the growing strength of the U.K.'s vibrant food and drink sector which is gaining an increasingly strong international reputation and is an area in which exports are growing," the British Council said in its report.

Some 22 percent of those surveyed said British people were "too nationalistic", which was named the nation's third most-unappealing trait. This characteristic was closely followed in the rankings by related issues of "ignorance of other cultures" and "intolerance towards people from other countries".

"While there's a lot to be proud of, some stereotypes still colour the way that we (Brits) are viewed overseas: boozy, bad eaters and ignorant of other cultures all figure in our worst characteristics," John Worne, director of strategy at the British Council, said in a statement.

Best of British

King's College, Cambridge University
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People from the U.K. shouldn't start comfort-eating fish and chips just yet, however, because it's not all bad news.

When naming the best characteristics of Brits, 46 percent of those surveyed said politeness and good manners were their most appealing traits.

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In second place was the education and skills of British people, with 37 percent of survey respondents saying this was their appealing characteristic.

"This research confirms culture and education are among the U.K.'s biggest assets in attracting people from important countries to the U.K.'s future," Worne added.

British people are also renowned for being friendly, according to the survey, with 31 percent of people saying this is the best trait of people from the U.K.

"At our best we are rated 'polite', 'educated' and 'friendly', and the English language, our cities, universities, Arts and culture definitely make people want to visit, study and do business here,"Worne said.