Variance in Political Cooperation by Country

The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on politics. 20% of a country’s politics score (4% of the overall Country Similarity Index score) is allocated for the various ways countries cooperate with each other. This includes economic cooperation, military cooperation, openness of borders, and naturalization of immigrants. The following is an explanation on how they were considered:


While most countries have their own currency, some countries have a common currency with other countries. Some countries have also adopted the US Dollar informally, like Ecuador and El Salvador. Three of the formal biggest currency unions are the Euro, the West African CFA Franc, and the Central African CFA Franc. CFA Francs are also similar since they are pegged to have the exact same value to each other. Several other currencies can also be exchanged at a 1 for 1 rate including Singapore Dollars for Brunei Dollars and Bahamian Dollars for US Dollars. There are also currencies that have a hard peg to each other, although it is not an exact peg. For example, one US Dollar can be exchanged for 177.71 Djiboutian Francs. Many Middle Eastern currencies are pegged to US Dollars. Many European countries not in the Eurozone still have their currency pegged to Euros. In addition, while some currencies may not have an hard peg to another currency, they have a soft peg that gradually adjusts over time. Again, most of these are either to the Euro, the US Dollar or both.

Wikipedia t is the main source of the data:

Countries were grouped into the following categories based on level of currency integration:
Exact Currency
Exact Peg to Currency
Hard Peg to Currency
Soft Peg to Currency
No Peg

Trade Blocs

The Eurozone has the highest degree of economic integration between countries, since they share the same currency, the same customs policies, and free movement of workers. A few other organizations with a high degree of economic integration include the Gulf Cooperation Council on the Arabian Peninsula, the Central American Integration System, and the Eurasian Economic Union, including countries that were once part of the USSR. However, they do not share a common currency like the Eurozone. A customs union is less integrated. It is just a free trade area with a common external tariff. The East African Community, Southern African Customs Union, and the Andean Community are some examples. There are various multilateral free trade agreements as well as preferential trade agreements between countries. Many developing countries are part of the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP). The Economic Cooperation Organization includes countries in Central Asia and the Middle East. One important intergovernmental organization that most countries are part of is the World Trade Organization. However a few economically isolated dictatorships, like North Korea and Eritrea, are not part of it.

The Wikipedia is the main source of the data:

Countries were grouped into the following categories based on highest level of trade integration:
Economic & Monetary Union
Economic Union
Common Market
Custom Union
Free Trade Agreement
Preferential Trade Agreement
WTO Membership
No WTO Membership

Military Alliances

Some countries are part of defense pacts, where they have pledged to mutually defend each other in the case of an attack. Many countries in the Western Hemisphere are part of the Rio Pact, while many former Soviet Union countries are in CSTO. There are also military alliances, where countries not only pledge to mutually defend each other, but also form shared military operations. NATO is one prominent example.

Wikipedia is the main source of the data:

Shared Military Bases

A huge sign that countries have close relations is that they have a military base on their soil. The United States has military bases in over 40 different countries. India, France, Great Britain, all have over 10 military bases in foreign countries. One country that curiously has many different military bases of foreign countries on their soil is Djibouti. It has bases for countries as various as Japan, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United States, China, and France.

Wikipedia is the main source of the data:

Arms Deals

Another huge sign that countries have close relations is that they provide or receive military equipment to each other. In most cases, the export of arms must be approved by the government. Obviously the government will generally not approve the sale of weapons to a country that is not friendly to it. The United States, Russia, China, and European nations export arms to many different countries. A lot of this follows Cold War era alliances and political ideology. For instance, communist countries like North Korea and Vietnam receive arms from Russia, while capitalist countries like South Korea and Taiwan receive arms from the United States.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is the main source of the data:

Visa Policy

There are no borders and no passport checks between many countries in Europe. This is known as the Schengen Area. Several groups of countries in the Western Hemisphere have this arrangement as well, including the Andean Community, the Caribbean Community, and also Central America-4, which includes El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi have opened their borders to each other. All the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council have this as well, except for Qatar, since Saudi Arabia closed its border to it due to a political disagreement. The next level of freedom of movement between countries is mutually allowing travel without a visa. This is a very common arrangement between similar countries. Sometimes countries ban citizens of a certain country traveling to their country. Israelis are banned from the most countries, since many Muslim nations refuse them. Libya is at the other end of the spectrum, since it has banned the citizens of six different countries from entering. All this information is subject to change based on rapidly evolving governmental policies.

Wikipedia is the main source of the data:

Countries were compared based on the level of freedom of movement between them:
No passport required
No visa required
E-Visa or Visa on Arrival required
Visa required
Forbidden to enter

Naturalization Requirements

In some countries, it is much harder to become a citizen than others. Most allow naturalization after residing in the country for a number of years. Latin American countries tend to have very lenient naturalization requirements, since many only require 3 or even 2 years of residence. The countries in the Persian Gulf, including Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, all have residency requirements of at least 20 years. China is another country where it is extremely difficult to be naturalized. Citizenship can also be bought in countries as various as Canada, Cambodia, and Moldova. There are often limits on dual citizenship as well, so you may need to give up your previous citizenship to be naturalized.

The CIA Factbook is the main source of the data:

Countries were categorized into the following groups:
Years of residency required: 0-5, 5-10, 10+
Dual Citizenship: Allowed, Not Allowed
Selling of Citizenship: Allowed, Not Allowed

Immigrant Percentage

Although it may be very difficult to become a citizen in several countries, they still may have many immigrants working there. This is the case in countries in the Persian Gulf, including Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar. The United Arab Emirates has the highest immigrant percentage at 88%. Switzerland is the highest non-Arab country with 30% of its population coming from other countries. The obvious trend is that richer countries tend to have more immigrants, since they have many opportunities for work. There are over 30 different countries where immigrants comprise less than 1% of their population. Of these, China is the country with the highest GDP per capita.

The Pew Research Center is the main source of the data:

Countries were categorized into the following groups by percentage of immigrants:
0-5%, 5-10%, 10-20%, 20-40%, 40-90%

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.

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