World Economy

Auf Wiedersehen USA! Germany crowned 'best nation'

For five years running, the U.S. has been crowned "best nation' by a poll which measures peoples' perceptions of countries around the world… until now.

This year, Germany took the top spot, according to the annual Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index (NBI), partly down to its "sports excellence" following its soccer World Cup win.

Read MoreFIFA's World Cupfinal breaks social media records

Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama speak during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 2, 2014.
T.J. Kirkpatrick | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. fell to second place, despite impressing with its education system and culture, because of perceptions regarding "peace and security" – especially from people in Russia and Egypt.

Russia itself fell three places this year, to 25th, due to its own geopolitical tensions with Ukraine and other nations.

To rank the countries, the market research group GfK asked over 20,000 people across 20 countries to share their perceptions of nations on categories including culture, governance, tourism, people, immigration exports.

Read MorePutin needs to appear 'strong'

As well as sports, positive perceptions of Germany increased when it came to social equality, political leadership and in regards to its resilient economy.

Beyond Germany and the U.S., the top 10 ranking remained unchanged compared to last years' results, with the United Kingdom in third place, France coming fourth and Canada ranking fifth.

Read MoreRevealed: Top 10 countries for your next vacation

Amanda Martin, global PR lead at GfK, told CNBC that it was impressive that Germany had managed to knock the U.S. off the top spot as it's a "slow-moving process" for a country to change its global image, and requires "radical changes".

It has, however, been a remarkable year so far for Germany. The country has celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, had all but one of its 24 banks pass the recent European stress tests - and won World Cup.

Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index: Top 10 Nations of 2014

  1. Germany
  2. U.S.A.
  3. United Kingdom
  4. France
  5. Canada
  6. Japan
  7. Italy
  8. Switzerland
  9. Australia
  10. Sweden