Stereotypes are a big part of our national identity. The way others see us as a nation also influences the way we see ourselves as a nation. Stereotypes may be wrong, but they are nonetheless quite important for our identity.
When you hear the word Austria you sure think about mountains, skiing or Mozart. Although these are some of the most famous things in Austria, they only define our country to a very small degree. There are plenty of other things defining Austria, who are worth a mention, but there is hardly any effort made to show people the other side of the country. People come here and expect to see those things and the population does their very best to make sure they get to see them. It almost seems like we try to prove that those stereotypes are right. Our national identity or how we see ourselves is heavily influenced by the opinion of the tourists. Austria is a really good example, but I’m sure this applies to many countries all over the world.
However, most of these stereotypes are wrong and some of them have nothing to do with our national identity. For example the French are said to eat snails or the legs of frogs, but this adds nothing to their national identity. A French person won’t start eating snails just because of the stereotype. Just like the French population won’t see themselves as a nation of snail eaters.
Nations may adopt certain stereotypes, but these are mostly positive ones. Although most stereotypes are not true and are not applicable on every person of a nation, they influence our identity, whether we want it or not.