Country Similarity Index

Have you ever wondered how similar or different two countries are? The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. For example, one might intuitively know that Germany is more like the United States than Iran but less like the United States than Canada. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. The index weights equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, technology, and geography. The research combines 1,000 different data points to reach its conclusions. Please see the above YouTube video for a quick overview. The following paragraphs explain the exact criteria for the index more in depth:

Overall Rubric

country similarity index rubric


Individuals & their personal characteristics

  • Ancestry: Race and Genetics
  • Language: Native Languages
  • Religion: Religious Background
  • Age: Average Age, Child Population, Elderly Population
  • Education: Average Education, Literacy Rate, College Graduation Rate
  • Employment: Average Unemployment, Occupation
  • Income: Average Income, Poverty Rate, Millionaire Rate
  • Anatomy: Height, Weight, Gender, Circumcision
Country Similarity Index - Demographics Rubric


Society & its common activities

  • Language: Native Language, Official Language, and Lingua Franca
  • Religion: Religious Practices
  • Writing: Official Scripts
  • Behavior: Personality and Violence
  • Tradition: Holidays and Marriage Practices
  • Recreation: Team and Olympic Sports
  • Food: Meat, Dairy, Fruits, Vegetables, and Starches
  • Narcotics: Alcohol, Drugs, and Smoking
Country Similarity Index - Culture Rubric


Government & its adopted policies

  • Government: Form of government, methods of their election, authoritarianism, and censorship
  • Enforcement: Rule of Law, Legal System, and Punishment
  • Cooperation: Common Currency, Trade Blocs, Defense Alliances
  • Restrictions: Gun Control, Narcotic Prohibition, Gambling Laws
  • Prohibitions: Marriage Regulations, Obscenity Laws, Reproductive Rights
  • Entitlements: Health Care, Education, Welfare, Pension, and Paid Vacation
  • Requirements: Conscription, Jury Duty, Compulsory Education, Mandatory Voting, and Tax Obligation
  • Movement: Citizenship Rights, Right of Abode, Visa Policy, and Immigration Policy
Country Similarity Index - Government Rubric


Technology & its typical use

  • Transportation: Cars, Trains, Airplanes, Ships
  • Water: Water Access, Water Use, and Water Source
  • Energy: Electrical Access, Energy Use, and Energy Source
  • Sanitation: Water Quality, Water Potability, Sewerage, and Trash Collection
  • Electrification: Electricity Outlets, Electrical Voltage & Frequency, Grid
  • Communication: Television, Phones, and Internet
  • Medication: Doctors and Hospital Infrastructure
  • Protection: Weapons and Military Sophistication
Country Similarity Index - Infrastructure Rubric


Environment & its physical features

  • Climate: Temperature and Precipitation
  • Vegetation: Biomes, Agriculture, and Floristic Region
  • Land Cover: Forest Land, Agricultural Land, Shrub Land, Barren Land
  • Location: Longitude, Latitude
  • Landmass: Continent, Tectonic Plate, and Hydrologic Region
  • Habitation: Population Density and Built Environment
  • Topography: Elevation and Slope
  • Hydrology: Inland Water and Coastal Water
Country Similarity Index - Geography Rubric

A full distance matrix of all countries was completed, revealing similarities and differences between individual countries.

The data from the Index was then used to generate a data-based Regions of the World Map.


  • If a characteristic was nearly universal, then it was not included in the calculation. For example, only the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar have not adopted the metric system. Therefore this characteristic was not used since it would not make a difference for a vast majority of comparisons.
  • Similarly, if a characteristic is almost never shared between countries, then it was not included in the calculation as well. For example, only Cyprus and Greece share the same exact national anthem. In addition, only a handful of countries share the same anthem melody. Therefore this characteristic was not used since it would not make a difference for a vast majority of comparisons.
  • Some characteristics are difficult to quantify or hard to find statistics for. For example, art and architecture would have been included into the index if there were relevant statistics readily available. However, since over 100 individual statistics were used, adding in more would not significantly change the overall score for a country. In addition, many statistics highly correlate with one another.
  • Only countries and territories with a population of more than 500,000 people or more than 2,000 sq. kilometers were considered. No country or territory with less than 50,000 people were considered.
  • The index has been slightly revised since it was first created in response to feedback. This is version 3.0. Language, writing system, land cover, and ancestry have been given a heavier weight than in the first iteration. However, these maps should not be construed to be language maps. Countries as various as the United States, Nigeria, Philippines, India, and South Africa all have English as one of their lingua francas, but they are quite different countries in many other aspects.


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