By HUGO GYE
An international poll has revealed the world's most and least racist countries - and the results are not necessarily the ones you would expect. The most racially intolerant countries are apparently all from the developing world, with Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Jordan and India topping the list. By contrast, it is the West which is most racially harmonious, despite controversial political arguments over issues such as immigration. Britain, the U.S., Canada and Australia were named among the least racist nations, along with parts of South America such as Brazil and Argentina. The data come from the World Value Survey, which has been measuring the social attitudes of people in different countries over the past few decades, as reported by the Washington Post.
Researchers asked the survey respondents which groups of people they would not want as neighbours, and measured the number who replied with 'people of another race'. The country with the highest proportion of people expressing racist opinions was Hong Kong, where 71.8 per cent of the population would refuse to live next to someone of a different race. Next were Bangladesh on 71.7 per cent, Jordan on 51.4 per cent and India with 43.5 per cent. None of these countries is particularly notorious for racial disharmony - unlike, say, the U.S., where the legacy of slavery is widely believed to have led to damaging racial tensions.
However, racist views are in fact strikingly rare in America, according to the survey, which claims that only 3.8 per cent of residents are reluctant to have a neighbour of another race. Other English-speaking countries once part of the British Empire shared the same tolerant attitude - fewer than five per cent of Britons, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders showed signs of racism. Similarly, fewer than one in 20 people in most South American countries admitted harbouring prejudice against other races. The Middle East, which is currently dealing with large numbers of low-skilled immigrants from south Asia, seems to be a hotbed of racial tension.
Europe is remarkably split - the west of the continent is generally more tolerant than the east, but France is a striking outlier with 22.7 per cent of the French rejecting neighbourhood diversity. Some have pointed out problems in the survey data, claiming that because the polls span a long period of time they are an unreliable guide to current attitudes. However, a more serious flaw could be the fact that in most Western countries racism is so taboo than many people will hide their intolerant views and lie to the questioners.