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We often talk of the most powerful countries in the world in terms of their military, political or economic might, but some countries are powerful due to their influence over our daily lives.

Whether it’s an influence on food, fashion or entertainment, the following countries have a considerable hold on pop culture; they might not influence the world with their tankers or drones, but they do send cultural waves across the globe.

Countries That Have Most Influenced Pop Culture

The United States of America

United States of America USA RF

OK, so the USA does influence the world with their tankers and drones, but whether we like it or not, they’re also at the top of the list for influencing much of the world’s pop culture.

There’s a stereotype that the American is uncultured, but this is a culture that has widely spread across the globe. It’s powerful, influential, and ever-present, in our movies, in our music, and even in the way the English language is spoken: an estimated 2 billion people learn English from American variety shows. 

Scary, I know.

America’s landmarks are instantly recognizable, and from the Statue of Liberty, to the White House, it could easily be argued that these are now worldwide monuments; popping up in everything from T-Shirts, to keychains, and music videos.

And then there’s Hollywood. America’s cultural influence through movies is one of pure dominance. You think of movie stars at the Oscars, and film franchises like Marvel that rake in billions of dollars.

There’s also the country’s tech industry, with companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon, and the fact that half the world believes in ‘the American Dream’.

Call them uncultured, but you can’t deny that America has a monumental influence over modern pop culture.

New Zealand

New Zealand might be a small country, overshadowed by Australia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, but this land of enchanted landscapes has a very strong hold over popular culture.

Known as the adventure capitol of the world, tourism to New Zealand has really picked up after it’s stunning landscapes have popped up in blockbuster fantasies like the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and King Kong. And on the music scene, ground breaking artists like Kimbra and Lorde have been taking the world by storm.

When it comes to sporting culture, New Zealand dominates the rugby scene, and even non sporting fans would have seen videos of the iconic Haka ceremonial dance; this cathartic, moving performance originates from the native Māori people.

While New Zealand may not be known for it’s wildlife, (fun fact, the country has zero harmful animals – that’s right – no snakes, scorpions or otherwise venomous insects) the kiwi bird is so iconic that it pops up on everything from tattoos to New Zealand casino slots.

Image credit: AJ Hackett Auckland Bridge Ocean Bungy


Australia’s influence on pop culture today is undeniable; while America has a huge influence on pop culture in Australia, the country has managed to hold strong to a few of it’s cultural quirks, and Australia is known for it’s laid back attitude and lifestyle.

The stereotypical picture of Australia, suntanning on Sydney’s Bondi Beach, while oogling at tanned lifeguards in their budgie smugglers, and heading home to throw a shrimp on the barbie (we actually call them prawns), attracts more than 10 million visitors annually.

Though, if you didn’t understand a word of the previous sentence, perhaps we’re not as influential as I thought.

No worries.

Of Australia’s most famous exports, the Hemsworth brothers dominate popular film culture, Bindi Irwin carries on her late father’s legacy of extraordinary wildlife experiences, and it’s a pretty sure sign of relevance when thousands of people flood in to climb a big rock before they close it.

Likewise, if you didn’t understand that last reference, perhaps we’re not as influential as I thought.


We actually don’t say that.


Pyramids Egypt Giza RF

Egypt might be an ancient civilization, and tourism numbers might be down, but it’s iconography still influences popular modern culture to this day.

If I had $1 for every adventure film set in amid the pyramids and ancient temples of Egypt, from The Mummy, to The Scorpion King, and The Curse of King Tut. 

There’s also Legends of the Lost Tomb, The Mummy Returns, Gods of Egypt, The Fifth Element, The Prince of Egypt, and oh my god stop making sequels and re-makes of The Mummy!

Just as you can’t escape Egypt in the cinema, I also challenge you to walk into a casino, anywhere in the world, and walk out without having seen some form of Egyptian themed slot. From neon hieroglyphs to the Magic of Sahara – new slot from microgaming, it’s all about Egypt.

Egypt still has an influence on our architecture and art; the hieratic styles of Egyptian art have undergone several revivals in the Western world in this century. And pop culture still hails ancient women like Cleopatra.


Europe Pizza RF Female traveler woman Italy

There’s tough competition when it comes to which country has most influenced pop culture today by way of food, but Italy takes the cake.

Pun intended.

When it comes to Italian food, specialties are extremely regional, so this means lasagne in Bologna, Parma ham in Parma, and Florentine T-bone steak in Tuscany.

And as far as pizza goes? That shouldn’t even be a question.

Pizza pilgrims from all over the world let their taste buds lead them to Naples – the birthplace of the original pizza pie. Pizzas in Naples range from the size of a plate to that of a Hummer wheel, and have undoubtedly shaped the way the world eats pizza. 

Italy also gave us tiramisu, spaghetti, gelato, and have you ever heard of the saying ‘drink coffee like an Italian’?

If you don’t think that your daily life today has been influenced by Italy, go back to your Cappuccino.

Which countries do you believe have most influenced modern pop culture? 


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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