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U.K. tops list as country with most positive influence

Performers are seen during the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium August 12, 2012.

FABRIZIO BENSCH/REUTERS

The United Kingdom has surpassed the United States in a global ranking of "soft power" influence that also knocked Canada down a notch from last year.

Britons project more positive influence than any other nation in Monocle magazine's third annual survey, which placed Canada in 10th spot.

In naming the UK to the top position, the magazine cited the Olympics opening ceremony, and its references to James Bond, the Queen, Harry Potter and the birth of the world wide web.

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"It managed to not only unite a nation that has often had trouble summing itself up, it was also a brilliant advert to the rest of the world – shown for free in pretty much every country," the magazine says in its December issue.

The ranking focuses on soft power, a concept coined by Joseph Nye of Harvard University which refers to a country's ability to attract and persuade rather than coerce, use force or pay money.

In calculating a country's soft power resources, the U.K.-based global affairs and lifestyles magazine used a composite index of 50 objective and subjective factors – from standard of government and cultural output to quality of national cuisines and business brands.

Canada's 10th place ranking was down from ninth spot in 2011 but still higher than its 12th place finish in 2010.

The survey cited Canada's multiculturalism and resilient economy, but noted it needs a louder voice as the world turns its attention to exploiting the Arctic.

"The country is having to flex its military muscles and shout a little louder to make sure people take note of its ambitions in the High North: see the new $50 note with an icebreaker on the reverse. And that's likely to lead to some elbowing with Arctic neighbours," the article says.

The survey also demoted the U.S. to second place despite all the attention of the presidential election, which i t says left "a considerable dent on the image of America as the Great Society." The magazine also noted Republican Mitt Romney's "catastrophic" European tour.

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Here are the top 10 rankings:

1. The United Kingdom 2. The United States 3. Germany 4. France 5. Sweden 6. Japan 7. Denmark 8. Switzerland 9. Australia 10. Canada

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