Congratulations to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is no longer America’s most despised nation. Since 2004, the hard-line theocracy ranked last in Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey of favorability. Iran is now out of the cellar.

According to Gallup’s latest survey (Feb. 19), Iran’s favorability numbers rose three percentage points to 12 percent to outpace Kim Jung-un’s North Korea, which dipped a point to 11 percent. It’s safe to say North Korea isn’t going to shoot up the list any time soon. Gallup’s poll was completed ahead of the United Nations report that documented hellish atrocities committed in its labor/prison camps.

Iran’s improving fortune is due to a somewhat more moderate leadership and agreement to at least talk about curtailment of its nuke program.

The country faces a pretty low bar when it comes to advancing higher on Gallup’s roster. It trails embattled or failed states Syria (13 percent), erstwhile U.S. ally Afghanistan (14 percent), Iraq (16 percent), Pakistan (17 percent) and Libya/Palestinian Authority (19 percent each).

The jig is up on the image front for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Russia registered the biggest drop in favorability rating, tumbling 10 points to 34 percent. Bastions of freedom Saudi Arabia (35 percent), Cuba (38 percent) and China (43 percent) are immediately ahead of Russia. Saudi Arabia and Cuba are poised for better performances as the Kingdom of late is adopting a more pro-U.S. stance and American visits to Cuba are slated to take off. China’s outlook is iffy.

Mexico, which has new youthful leadership and a promise to open up its energy sector, showed the biggest rise in favorability, up 11 points. Israel (+6 points to 72 percent), Egypt/France (+5 points) and India/PA each (+4 points) followed.

Canada and the U.K. retained their spots as the top two most liked countries. Each was up two points to 93 percent and 90 percent, respectively. 

No. 3 Germany fell four points to 81 percent, which just edged Japan (down one point to 80 percent).