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 way to measure this. It weighs equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The methodology is exactly the same for each country. The research combines 1,000 different data points to arrive at the conclusions.
Similar to South Korea and Taiwan
Very few countries are similar to Japan. The closest two would be their neighbors, South Korea and Taiwan. They are well developed, democratic East Asian countries that border the North Pacific Ocean. Outside of the countries in Asia, Western European countries are the most similar, since they have a similar climate and infrastructure. Still, they have huge cultural differences with Japan, except that they are not particularly religious.
The least similar countries are all located in Africa, most specifically in the Sahel region. These countries are all quite poor and do not have well developed infrastructure. Furthermore, they are sparsely populated deserts with some of the highest temperatures in the world.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Japan
- South Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910 and was part of Japan until the end of World War II. The demographics and geography of these countries are significantly similar. Both also share similar sports culture, being most interested in baseball and soccer, while also excelling in the Olympics. However, Korea is more westernized. It has a large percentage of Christians and most of their males are circumcised. Both countries have potable water and a dense train network. However, its technology standards are more similar to Europe, since it uses Type C, F electrical outlets, standard gauge railroad tracks, and also drives on the right.
- Taiwan was another protectorate of Japan until the end of World War II. Both countries are mountainous islands in the Pacific, with well developed shipping infrastructure. One difference is that Taiwan’s climate is more tropical. While Taiwan doesn’t drive on the left, it does use 3′-6″ railroad tracks and Type A B electrical outlets with 110 voltage, like Japan. Both countries also use Traditional Chinese characters in their writing. Like South Korea, it is another Asian country that is interested in baseball, although it is not as prolific in the Olympics.
- China has had a great cultural influence on Japan due to its proximity. Japan initially borrowed its writing system, Kanji, from China. They also use the same symbol for money. In addition, Mahayana Buddhism came to Japan through China. However, there are several major differences. China is not a democracy and its people have a lower standard of living. Furthermore, China’s geography has much more variety. It has a large percentage of both subtropical and desert areas.
- Thailand is less wealthy and developed than Japan, however it does have a few cultural and demographic similarities. Both countries have a significant percentage of Buddhists, although Thailand is more religious. Furthermore, both countries drive on the left and have Type A, B electrical outlets, although the voltage is different. In addition, their form of government is similar since they are both constitutional monarchies.
- Italy is the most similar European country, although other European countries have similar scores. Both Italy and Japan are very mountainous and have a large amount of coastline. In addition, some aspects of their demographics are similar. The average age of their people is among the oldest in the world and their average income is similar as well. However, the personality of their people are opposites, as the Japanese tend to be more reserved than the outgoing Italians.
- Slovenia, 7. Vietnam, 8. Singapore, 9. Germany, 10. United Kingdom
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Japan
- Chad is a landlocked, sparsely populated country in the Sahara Desert, with very little infrastructure. It has been ruled by a dictator for more than 30 years. There really isn’t much Japan and Chad have in common in demographics, culture, politics, technology, or geography. In fact, according to the index, Japan and Chad are the two least similar countries in the world.
- Niger is a similar country to Chad located to its west. The country has the youngest population in the world, in stark contrast to Japan, which has the oldest population in the world. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world, while Japan has one of the lowest. However, it is lower on this list since it is more democratic than Chad.
- Eritrea is a a conservative totalitarian one-party dictatorship also located in the Sahel region of Africa. The country has a mix of Christians and Muslims. It also uses the unique Ge’ez script. However, a majority of the country’s land is close to the coast and fairly mountainous, like Japan, although it is mostly barren land.
- Mali is located to the west of Niger. It is another sparsely populated and poor desert country located in Africa. While Japan is quite mountainous, Mali is predominately flat land. Furthermore, Mali is predominately Muslim and has far more conservative laws than Japan. The possession of pornography is banned there and same sex marriage is criminalized.
- Somalia is an anarchic, Muslim country in Africa with poorly developed infrastructure, due to ongoing civil war. It is a tropical desert in contrast to Japan’s wetter and cooler climate. However, the country does have a lot of coastline. In addition, both countries have a diet based in rice and wheat, although Somalians eat far less meat.
- Sudan, 7. Yemen, 8. Mauritania, 9. South Sudan, 10. Burkina Faso
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Japan
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