Debunking 13 Widespread Misconceptions About Nations Around the World

It’s time to set the record straight. There are countless popular myths surrounding specific countries that, for better or worse, are taken as fact by millions of people. Recently, men and women met in an online discussion to debunk many widespread misconceptions about certain nations. Let’s let the facts speak for themselves!

1. The Origin of Iceland’s Name

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Interestingly, there’s prevailing thought that Iceland was initially named in an attempt to dissuade people from visiting or moving to the island permanently. “Iceland was not named as part of some conspiracy to keep folks away from a good thing,” reveals one resident. “The name comes from the fact that early settlers arrived during summer and then suffered horrible losses of livestock and people once winter hit and icebergs were seen filling the fjords. It was more of a warning that this place [was difficult] to live in.” So, it was named in a literal fashion!

2. The Mob Mentality of Italy

Group of friends having italian breakfast in streets of Italy
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Sorry, drama lovers: Italy isn’t filled with greasy-haired mobsters dressed in tracksuits arranging “hits” on other families and their enemies. The mob culture has subsided in recent generations, although it was prevalent throughout the country at one point. However, one stereotype is true: Most Italians talk very loudly and insist on using their hands when they talk! Mama mia!

3. All Kenyans Do Is Train for Long-Distance Running

Kenyan runner practicing in ITEN, KENYA,
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Yes, Kenyans are often near the top of the field at the end of long-distance races like marathons. However, like most people, people living in Kenya have well-balanced lives! It’s true that a small portion of the population trains for marathons (and excels at it), but most men and women have everyday lives that don’t look out of the ordinary to most outsiders. 

4. Greece Is Beautiful Islands and Nothing More

Athens, Greece Monastiraki square
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Social media has transformed the general public’s perception that Greece is nothing more than places like Mykonos: Picture-perfect coastal cliff cities begging to be photographed. However, the country is much more than that! “Greece is not only beaches and islands; we also have beautiful places to spend time in during winter, including many mountains and mainland attractions,” attests one woman. “Around every corner, we have something interesting to see or do.”

5. Everyone Drinks Vodka in Russia

Beautiful young russian girl in Moscow
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While it’s humorous to think that every Russian is a grumpy cartoon character who constantly drinks vodka throughout the day, it’s not true. Believe it or not, while alcoholism is a problem throughout the country, many citizens admit that most people don’t drink. If they do, they prefer other forms of alcohol instead of vodka.

6. All of Mexico Is Dangerous

Aerial Drone View of Homes Featuring Docks on Blue Bay Waters Surrounded by Mangroves in Bonita Springs, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico in the Background with a Clear Sky
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When I moved to southern California, my father gave me one piece of advice: “Stay out of Mexico.” Unfortunately, that racially tinged warning came from the widespread misconception that every part of Mexico is dangerous and unsafe to visit. In reality, Mexico is like the United States; while parts of many cities are dangerous, most of the country is lovely and perfectly safe.

7. Everyone in Ireland Is Drunk

People walking in Dublin, Ireland streets
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Believe it or not, not everybody in Ireland has a drinking problem (although it seems that way sometimes). One Irishman puts it all into perspective. “I laugh at how many people think that the Irish are the biggest drunks in the world,” he states tongue-in-cheek. “It’s completely false. I mean, we’re only the second biggest drinkers in the world, but we hope to get first place next year.” 

8. The Myth About Australian Vernacular

Brisbane, Australia
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You can blame old-fashioned capitalism for the widespread myth that Australians constantly say a specific phrase. “I can’t believe how many visitors think we say ‘shrimp on the barbie,'” reveals one Australian. That phrase was from an ad campaign to appeal to Americans; it was the most successful tourism campaign still to this day, but literally no one in Australia says that.

9. Canadians Say “Sorry” Constantly

Canada people celebrating Canada day
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Thanks to pop culture references, countless men and women have believed Canadians say “sorry” constantly while simultaneously being the friendliest people on Earth! While there’s no denying Canadians are nicer than most, there’s no truth to this obvious misconception. Many Canadians admit to being just as angry about the world as other citizens.

10. Many Myths About Brazil

Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge in Sao Paulo Brazil South America
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Count me as one of many people shocked when they learned that Brazilians don’t speak Spanish! “It’s crazy how many people think that Brazil is a huge tropical jungle in which people speak Spanish,” confesses one woman. “Brazil has several major cities and different environments. São Paulo is a huge, sprawling metropolis with about as many inhabitants as New York and Los Angeles combined. In some southern areas of the country, it actually snows on occasion. And we were a Portuguese colony, so we speak Portuguese.” 

11. French People Don’t Practice Good Hygiene

Romantic couple in Paris at the embankment
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I blame Disney cartoons for the misconception that all French people don’t practice good personal hygiene. Growing up, I was convinced everyone in France was a chain smoker, didn’t use deodorant, and never showered. Unsurprisingly, this belief isn’t true, but the stereotype sadly still exists in 2023. 

12. Egyptians Don’t Live In Pyramids

ABU SIMBEL, EGYPT - FEB 22, 2019: People visit the Great Temple of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel, Egypt.
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Some myths are so dumb that it’s astonishing they became widespread in the first place! “I’m American, but I lived in Egypt for a while,” one man explains. “It’s incredible that more than one American, who wasn’t a child, asked me if I lived in a pyramid.” Logistically, how would living in pyramids even work? 

13. Romania’s Vampire Infestation

People dressed like ancient romans, Rome
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Despite rumors of the contrary, one Romanian goes on the record and courageously tells the world the truth about the country’s purported vampire infestation. “Many people believe we have vampires, but in my 700 years of living here, I haven’t even seen one,” says one man who definitely isn’t a vampire. “I talked to my mates back in the castle, and they also haven’t seen any, and they’ve been around for longer than I.”

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