Which Countries are Most Similar to Iran?

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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. The index is a statistically-based objective 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. See this post for a full explanation: https://objectivelists.home.blog/2020/05/30/country-similarity-index/

Similar to other Muslim countries

There isn’t one country that is clearly more similar to Iran than any other country, however it is similar to many countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. Iran is fairly unique since it is one of the only countries where a majority of the people are Shi’ites. In addition, most of the countries around it speak languages from completely different language families.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to Iran

  1. Iraq has often been a part of the great empires amassed by Persia throughout history. At present, it is one of the few countries in the world with a majority Shi’ite population. The country also produces a lot of oil and gas, like Iran. The biggest difference is that Iraqis speak Arabic, instead of Persian.
  2. Egypt may not seem like an obvious choice for this list, but both countries have extremely similar conservative Muslim laws. In addition, the governments of both countries are oppressive. They censor journalists and block many internet sites. Furthermore, the countries have similar standards of living, since they are neither extremely poor or rich.
  3. Syria is one of Iran’s closest allies. Syria even has two Iranian military bases within its borders. The countries have similar diets, consisting mostly of chicken and wheat-based foods. In addition, their governments have similar conservative Muslim policies.
  4. Azerbaijan is Iran’s neighbor to its north. There is actually a large population of Azerbaijanis living in Iran. It is another country whose economy relies on the production of oil and natural gas. However, Azerbaijan is less conservative. In addition, the countries are completely different linguistically, as Azerbaijan speaks a Turkic language and uses the Latin script.  
  5. Afghanistan is most similar country linguistically to Iran. Persian and Dari (the lingua franca of Afghanistan) are essentially the same language. They both use the same writing script as well. Its landscape is also quite similar since it is also a mountainous desert country in the same region. However, Afghanistan is much poorer than Iran, in addition, it has more of a Russian influence.
  6. Algeria, 7. Turkey, 8. Libya, 9. Jordan 10. Morocco

Top 10 Places Least Similar to Iran

  1. New Zealand is a wet archipelago in the Pacific Ocean far away from Iran. Their infrastructure also is very different as New Zealand uses Type I plugs, drives on the left, and generates most of its electricity through hydropower. In addition, New Zealand is far more liberal than conservative Iran.
  2. Bahamas is another English-speaking island nation on this list. Most of the country is close to sea level, unlike Iran. Their infrastructure also is very different as the Bahamas uses Type AB plugs, drives on the left, and has no railroad system. The Bahamas also has a relatively weak military, unlike Iran. 
  3. Papua New Guinea is one of the wettest countries in the world, in contrast to Iran’s drier climate. Furthermore, its people are Christian and have little genetic similarity to Iranians. In addition, they drive on the left and use Type I electrical outlets, unlike Iran.
  4. Malawi is located in Southern Africa. It is one of the world’s lest developed countries. It has a majority Christian population and is much more rural. In addition, water is plentiful there since it has a lot of surface water.
  5. Japan is another archipelago in the Pacific Ocean with little similarity to Iran, other than technically being on the same continent. Its demographics, culture, politics, and technology are all quite different from Iran.
  6. Iceland, 7. Lesotho, 8. Solomon Islands, 9. Canada, 10. Finland

    Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Iran

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

10 Comments

  1. These maps are wonderful, thank you for making them! I’d be very interested in seeing Somalia, as it’s consistently least similar to so many countries.

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  2. It’s very interesting to see that Egypt is second although the are quite different in culture, politics demography and geography.
    By the way how Egypt is the most similar to Iran politically?
    Egypt has a secular government and Iran has a religious government.
    Egypt is an US ally while Iran is in the Russian-Chinese side. On top of that Egypt is a part of an anti Iranian alliance with the Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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    1. World Policy Center lists Egypt as a religious government, not secular. Both have authoritarian governments. Almost all their laws from abortion to LGBT rights, to prostitution are nearly identical. Its interesting you bring up allies which is somewhat included in which countries receive weapons from each other recently. Egypt got them from Russia, France, and USA, while Iran got them from Russia and China.

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      1. Thanks for the comment, maybe after the revolution and the Muslim brotherhood the government has become religious because under Mubarak administration they had a secular government (like Sadam in Iraq or Syria). Even now the leaders of Egypt has no religious background.

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  3. By the way it’s very interesting to see that Egypt is the second closest country to Iran but Iran is not the top 10

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