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US tops survey on pride in nations

Venezuela second, Europeans lag

CHICAGO -- U-S-A! U-S-A! When it comes to national pride, Americans are No. 1, according to a survey of patriotism in 34 countries.

Venezuela came in a close second in the survey, released yesterday by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

People rated how proud they were of their countries in 10 areas: political influence, social security, the way their democracy works, economic success, science and technology, sports, arts and literature, military, history, and fair treatment of all groups in society.

In the United States, ``the two things we rank high on are what we think of as the political or power dimension," said Tom W. Smith, a researcher at the university. ``Given that we're the one world superpower, it's not that surprising."

Patriotism is mostly a New World concept, the researchers said. Former colonies and newer nations were more likely to rank high on the list, while Western European, East Asian, and former socialist countries usually ranked near the middle or bottom.

The United States ranked highest overall and in five categories: pride in its democracy, political influence, economy, science, and military. Venezuela ranked highest in four categories: sports, arts and literature, history, and fair treatment of all groups in society.

Eric Wingerter, a Washington spokesman for the Venezuelan government, said many Venezuelans believe President Hugo Chavez has helped create a sense of national pride. ``There's been a real emphasis on rediscovering what it means to be Venezuelan," he said.

Chavez has repeatedly denounced the US government and the Bush administration in particular.

Ireland came in at No. 3, followed by South Africa and Australia.

Cultural differences might explain the lower rankings for the three Asian countries on the list -- Japan (18th), Taiwan (29th), and Korea (31), Smith said.

``It is both bad luck and poor manners to be boastful about things there," Smith said.

Countries that were part of the former USSR or the former Eastern Bloc ranked lower because they are still struggling to find national identities, Smith said.

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