LONDON - Thais have no culture and are all driven by sex; Africans are self-destructive and Nicaraguans are dishonest, violent and alcoholic - at least according to some of Britain's top diplomats.
The undiplomatic parting shots of British ambassadors over the years, in final dispatches to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London before leaving their posts overseas, were revealed in a BBC programme aired yesterday.
The top diplomats' "confidential" assessments, designed to give London a "full and frank" picture of countries around the world, are not normally supposed to be published beyond the higher echelons of the FCO.
But the BBC winkled some of them out of Whitehall using Freedom of Information legislation, while others were released under a 30-year National Archive rule.
Sir Anthony Rumbold, who served in Bangkok from 1965 to 1967, did not mince his words when reflecting on his Thai hosts.
"They have no literature, no painting and only a very odd kind of music; their sculpture, ceramics and dancing are borrowed from others, and their architecture is monotonous and interior decoration hideous," he wrote.
"Nobody can deny that gambling and golf are the chief pleasures of the rich, and that licentiousness is the main pleasure of them all," he said, adding: "The general level of intelligence of the Thais is rather low, a good deal lower than ours and much lower than that of the Chinese."
In the same year Roger Pinsent, the FCO's man in Managua, let rip with his real views on Nicaragua.
"There is, I fear, no question that the average Nicaraguan is one of the most dishonest, unreliable, violent and alcoholic of the Latin Americans," he wrote.
The high commissioner to Nigeria, Sir David Hunt, wrote back to London in 1969 that Nigerians had "a maddening habit of always choosing the course of action which will do the maximum damage to their own interests.
"They are also not singular in this. Africans as a whole are not only not averse to cutting off their nose to spite their face; they regard such an operation as a triumph of cosmetic surgery," he said.
The FCO itself - which ended the traditional valedictory missives in 2006 - doesn't escape criticism.
Sir David Gore-Booth, leaving India in 1998, wrote: "One of the great failures of the diplomatic service has been its inability to cast off its image as bowler-hatted, pin-striped and chinless, with a fondness for champagne." - Sapa-AFP