The Anglo-Saxons shape modern culture

Culture is a factor increasing the ability of a given country to act. Every country that was once colonised by Great Britain use the majority electoral system and to this day learn the English language. Similarly, with France and the French language or Spain and Spanish. The export of the language of a given country should be seen as a cultural influence important for the country’s power.

Culture Index, 1991-2016

Source: Own calculations

In the era of knowledge economy, it is also important how the minds of new generations are shaped. The most important in this area is the educational system. A quantitative measure of the impact of an educational system is the number of schools a country has on the Shanghai list, which groups the world’s best universities. The analysts who put the list together consider factors such as the number of Nobel laureates, cited researchers and the internationalisation of the university. It can be assumed that this measure indicated how a country differentiates itself in terms of the strength of its culture.

The highest number of the best schools is in the US—137 (in the previous year there were 146 out of top 500 in the world). China is second with 54 universities (the previous year there were 44), Germany third (38) and Great Britain fourth (37). In total, the Anglo-Saxons—or universities in the US, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and Canada account for 42 per cent of the best universities in the world. If one were to count the influence of all of the universities in the European Union, the cultural effect of the EU would be slightly below the Anglo-Saxons because 38 per cent of the schools on the list reside in the EU.

Poland has two institutions on the Shanghai list: the Warsaw University and Jagiellonian University, which is in line with countries such as Russia and Iran. Globally, it would rank 29th-32nd (the spread results from the fact that four countries have two schools each on the list).

32 countries with the highest number of universities on the Shanghai list in 2016

Source: Own calculations based on data from Academic Ranking of World Universities

In terms of language, it is clear that some languages are more popular than others and become official languages of diplomacy or business for individual regions in the world. The highest number of people in the world know English, which is used by some 1.8 billion. Chinese is used by nearly 1.4 billion, Hindi by half a billion people, similar to Arabic. Interestingly, Polish is also on the list of the most popular languages in the world with the 26th position. It is spoken by 47 million people in the world—not just the residents of Poland, but also the Polish emigres in the US, South America and Europe, as well as our country’s business partners in Germany or Russia. Polish is more popular than Ukrainian or Malaysian.

30 most popular languages in the world (millions of people using a given language)

Chinese language also includes the Mandarin dialect and the state language used in China.
Source: Own calculations based on data from Encarta and Ethnologue