The study, from the New York-based Reputation Institute, measures the overall trust, esteem, admiration and good feelings the public holds towards these countries, as well as their perceptions across 16 different attributes.
“The study shows that a strong country reputation requires a solid performance across three different areas: having an advanced economy, an appealing environment and an effective government,” said Nicolas Georges Trad at the institute in a statement.
Canada heads the 2011 list, followed by Sweden, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand.
The results are compiled from over 42,000 respondents worldwide and this is the third year that the Reputation Institute has released the study.
The study attributes the countries' strong reputations due to their high GDP, focus on active lifestyles, developed political systems and perceived neutrality to political upheavals.
The lowest ranked countries were Pakistan, Iran and Iraq while the US and China were ranked in the middle and lower tiers respectively.
Financial and political turmoil in developed areas of the world took their toll on the 2011 results with countries across the board recording lower scores.
"One of the most interesting findings of this year’s study was the significant decrease in the average score of all countries measured, suggesting a growing cynicism people have towards countries, possibly due to recent developments in the world economy and a general loss of faith in politics worldwide," the statement observed.
The study's other major finding was that "reputation means money". The study indicated that a country's reputation had a very strong correlation with respondents' desire to visit a country and to invest in its economy.
“When you consider that a 10 percent increase in your country’s reputation leads to an 11% rise in your tourism receipts, and a 2 percent increase in your FDI – this is something both countries and companies might want to take note of," Kasper Nielsen at the institute said.