Gallup released results of polling in 136 countries in 2011 and 116 in earlier years. On average there has been little change in approval of U.S. leadership, with the median dropping from 47 percent to 46 percent.
There have been sharp drops in some sub-Saharan African countries, the Gallup Organization reported. The biggest decline was 18 percentage points in South Africa, and overall approval of the United States fell from the mid-80s in 2009 and 2010 to 74 percent in 2011.
Southern Africa has generally been the region where the United States is most popular, Gallup said. A survey conducted in 136 countries found the median approval rating was 46 percent in 2011, almost unchanged from the median of 47 percent in 2010.
In North Africa, the events of the Arab Spring have had little effect on how the United States is perceived, Gallup said. Support tends to be much lower than south of the Sahara.
In Europe, support for the United States is still about twice as high as it was at the end of the Bush administration. But Gallup said it is trending down.
In South America, median approval of the United States fell from 46 percent in 2010 to 40 percent in 2011, erasing most of the gains made after Obama became president. In Mexico, approval dropped 14 percentage points, mostly because 42 percent now say they are unsure about the United States.
Gallup interviewed about 1,000 people ages 15 or older in each country either by telephone or face to face. Margins of error range from 1.7 points to 5.7 points.