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. In addition each aspect was roughly balanced evenly between quantity/percentage and quality/type. Please see the above YouTube video for a quick overview. The following paragraphs explain the exact criteria for the index more in depth:

Demographics

Individuals & their personal characteristics

  • Appearance: Gender, Age, Height, and Weight
  • Ancestry: Race and Genetics
  • Ethnicity: Native Language and Religious Background
  • Family: Marriage and Children
  • Occupation: Education and Employment
  • Affluence: Income and Wealth

Culture

Society & its common activities

  • Behavior: Personality, Conduct, Violence, and Drug Use
  • Communication: Lingua Franca and Writing System
  • Traditions: Religious Practices and Customary Rituals
  • Recreation: Team and Olympic Sports
  • Beverages: Coffee, Tea, and Alcohol
  • Food: Meat, Dairy, Fruits, Vegetables, and Starches

Politics

Government & its adopted policies

  • Management: Leadership of the government and methods of their election
  • Restrictions: Marriage Regulations, Obscenity Laws, Reproductive Rights, Gun Control, and Narcotic Prohibition
  • Entitlements: Health Care, Education, Welfare, Pension, and Citizenship Rights
  • Requirements: Military Conscription, Jury Duty, Compulsory Education, Mandatory Voting, and Tax Obligation
  • Enforcement: Authoritarianism, Censorship, Rule of Law, Legal System, and Punishment
  • Cooperation: Common Currency, Trade Blocs, Defense Alliances, Border Control, and Immigration Policy

Technology

Infrastructure & its essential equipment

  • Hydration: Water Usage, Water Quality, and Waste Sewerage
  • Electrification: Energy Usage, Electricity Type, and Power Outlets
  • Communication: Radio, Telephone, Television, and Internet
  • Transportation: Cars, Trains, and Airplanes
  • Medication: Doctors and Hospital Infrastructure
  • Protection: Police and Military Sophistication

Geography

Environment & its physical features

  • Location: Longitude, Latitude, Landmass, and Hydrologic Region
  • Terrain: Mountains and Water
  • Climate: Temperature and Precipitation
  • Vegetation: Wilderness and Agriculture
  • Habitation: Animals and People
  • Anthropization: Built Environment and Pollution

Full Table

rubric 2.jpeg

Accuracy

Out of the countries studied so far, the index predicts around 90% of the time, which country people believe to be the most similar to another according to polling on this site. The index weighting may be adjusted slightly in the future to reflect the feedback.

Obviously there is no one clear way to determine how similar one country is to another. How would you quantify how similar one country is to another?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

List of all countries studied:

https://objectivelists.com/category/country-similarity-index/

Notes

  • 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. Language, writing system, 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.

More specific information about the statistics used in this index and how they are quantified will be reviewed in later posts.

29 Comments

  1. Hi! As a numbers nerd, I must say this looks like a highly interesting way of comparing countrys. I’m impressed by the work it must have taken to compile all this data! However, I find it unfortunate that the availability of the data is so low – only for a few countries, and without any way to see the details of why a country ranks like it does. I am a web developer, and if you’d like, I could help build a front end for browsing the data. All I need for that would be access to the raw data, which I am so interested in seeing anyway that I wouldn’t require any further payment. Alternatively, if you don’t think such a visualization is wanted/necessary, I’d like to request to see the raw data regardless – if you’re okay with it, of course.

    Like

    1. definitely planning to… but it might not be for a while because I have a set order that is difficult to change

      Like

    1. This is my plan… could change slightly
      1 USA
      2 CHINA
      3 GERMANY
      4 SAUDI ARABIA
      5 AUSTRALIA
      6 INDIA
      7 BRAZIL
      8 NIGERIA
      9 RUSSIA
      10 CANADA
      11 JAPAN
      12 FRANCE
      13 TURKEY
      14 PHILIPPINES
      15 PAKISTAN
      16 ARGENTINA
      17 CAMEROON
      18 POLAND
      19 MEXICO
      20 THAILAND
      21 GREAT BRITAIN
      22 EGYPT
      23 INDONESIA
      24 IRAN
      25 BOLIVIA
      26 SOUTH AFRICA
      27 GREECE
      28 CUBA
      29 SOUTH KOREA
      30 ITALY
      31 ALGERIA
      32 NEW ZEALAND
      33 AFGHANISTAN
      34 VENEZUELA
      35 SOMALIA
      36 UKRAINE
      37 GUATEMALA
      38 MONGOLIA
      39 SPAIN
      40 ISRAEL
      41 PAPUA NEW GUINEA
      42 SRI LANKA
      43 CHILE
      44 KENYA
      45 ROMANIA
      46 HAITI
      47 VIETNAM
      48 IRELAND
      49 YEMEN
      50 FIJI
      51 BANGLADESH
      52 COLOMBIA
      53 ANGOLA
      54 BOSNIA
      55 JAMAICA
      56 NORTH KOREA
      57 SWITZERLAND
      58 LEBANON
      59 MALAYSIA
      60 KAZAKHSTAN
      61 PARAGUAY
      62 ETHIOPIA
      63 FINLAND
      64 COSTA RICA
      65 BHUTAN
      66 NETHERLANDS
      67 IRAQ
      68 SINGAPORE
      69 TURKMENISTAN
      70 GUYANA
      71 SENEGAL
      72 CZECHIA
      73 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
      74 CAMBODIA
      75 ICELAND
      76 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
      77 SAMOA
      78 NEPAL
      79 PERU
      80 GHANA
      81 LITHUANIA
      82 TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
      83 LAOS
      84 PORTUGAL
      85 TUNISIA
      86 SOLOMON ISLANDS
      87 TAJIKISTAN
      88 SURINAME
      89 MOZAMBIQUE
      90 ALBANIA
      91 EL SALVADOR
      92 MYANMAR
      93 NORWAY
      94 SYRIA
      95 BRUNEI
      96 UZBEKISTAN
      97 ECUADOR
      98 IVORY COAST
      99 HUNGARY
      100 BELIZE
      101 TAIWAN
      102 BELGIUM
      103 QATAR
      104 EAST TIMOR
      105 KYRGYZSTAN
      106 URUGUAY
      107 BOTSWANA
      108 CROATIA
      109 MOROCCO
      110 SWEDEN
      111 MADAGASCAR
      112 JORDAN
      113 DEM REP CONGO
      114 BELARUS
      115 SUDAN
      116 AZERBAIJAN
      117 MALI
      118 HONDURAS
      119 TANZANIA
      120 AUSTRIA
      121 BURKINA FASO
      122 LIBYA
      123 UGANDA
      124 SERBIA
      125 NIGER
      126 NICARAGUA
      127 MALAWI
      128 DENMARK
      129 CHAD
      130 OMAN
      131 ZAMBIA
      132 SLOVAKIA
      133 SOUTH SUDAN
      134 KUWAIT
      135 GUINEA
      136 PANAMA
      137 ZIMBABWE
      138 MAURITANIA
      139 RWANDA
      140 ARMENIA
      141 BENIN
      142 BULGARIA
      143 BURUNDI
      144 GEORGIA
      145 TOGO
      146 SLOVENIA
      147 SIERRA LEONE
      148 MOLDOVA
      149 REP CONGO
      150 NORTH MACEDONIA
      151 LIBERIA
      152 LATVIA
      153 CENT AFR REP
      154 BAHAMAS
      155 NAMIBIA
      156 MONTENEGRO
      157 GABON
      158 VANUATU
      159 ERITREA
      160 ESTONIA
      161 GUINEA BISSAU
      162 CYPRUS
      163 LESOTHO
      164 LUXEMBOURG
      165 EQUAT. GUINEA
      166 MAURITIUS
      167 DJIBOUTI
      168 BAHRAIN
      169 ESWATINI
      170 CAPE VERDE
      171 GAMBIA

      Like

  2. Hello!! I love these maps and thank you very much for it!!!, but the colors you use to show similarity puzzles me a bit, an example is the first image that appears now, it seems to me that it should be the correct one for the United States unlike the other you put in ”Which Countries are Most Similar to the United States?” Where countries with slightly more than 50% (which should be almost white or a very light red) similarity appear to have much less than 50% due to the color scale (they appear very blue as if they had 45% or 35%). The color palette that always appears on the left side, seems to contradict it.

    Some examples:
    Sweden has 64.8% of similarity but appears white that correspond to countries with barely 49-51%
    Colombia has 58.6% but the blue makes it look less than 50%

    Anyway regards from distance!

    Like

    1. Right, essentially 30 is the lowest score so that is the zero point. Then I chose 65 as the mid point and 100 as the high point. I figured out this system made the most sense to describe the data.

      Like

  3. Love your work. Interesting and impressive data collection. Is there a way to acces the raw data? I’m so interested in having a look at it.

    Like

  4. Hello. i really appreciate the tremendous effort you’ve put on this website. 😊
    and i was wondering if you’re going to make one about Jordan too. that would be superb..

    Like

  5. Hello! Thank you for your work, it’s incredibly interesting project. Please fix the error: when I click on Countries most similar to Bosnia, it addresses to Greece.

    Like

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