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.
Most Similar to Predominately White, English-Speaking Countries
Relatively few countries are similar to the United States. The top 5 countries most similar have all been part of the British Empire at one time or another so they share similar traits. As a result, all of these countries are composed of a majority White, Christian, and English-speaking population. They are among the wealthiest nations in the world and have well developed infrastructure, including potable tap water and extensive networks of roads.
The least similar countries come from two different areas: the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, as well as the Sahel region of Africa. These Southeast Asian countries have especially little culture in common with the United States. The African countries in the bottom 5 are even poorer and have less developed infrastructure.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to the United States
- Canada is by far the most similar country to the United States. This is in part because they are both originally British colonies. However Canada retained more characteristics of Britain than the United States since it became independent much later. Still, the United States has had a great influence on Canada due to its close proximity. In fact, they share the longest border between any two countries in the world. Both countries drive on the right, use standard gauge railroad tracks, and Type A,B electrical outlets with the same voltage.
- Australia is another former British colony characterized by a large European immigrant population. Like the United States, their people are more extroverted than other other predominately White, English-speaking countries. However, like Canada, it became independent from Britain much later. In addition, it is on the opposite side of the earth so its geography is significantly different. Still, a significant portion of both countries is desert, although Australia has a greater percentage.
- New Zealand is yet another former British colony whose culture and demographics are also similar to the US. However, like Australia, it is on the opposite side of the planet, so its geography is significantly different. Its technology is also significantly different since it drives on the left, uses 3’6″ gauge railroad tracks, and Type I electrical outlets with a higher voltage.
- United Kingdom originally founded the United States, so it is no wonder that they are high on this list as well. More Americans trace their ancestry back to Britain than any other country. However its government and geography differ from the United States. It is much more densely populated and is not as mountainous. Still, the forests of Great Britain do bear a strong resemblance to Eastern United States, while the landscape of the Western United States is significantly different.
- Ireland also has similar culture and demographics to the United States in part because of its similarity to Britain, but also because 10% of the United States population claims to have Irish ancestry. It is also the only country on this list that has an popularly elected head of state, like the United States, not the Queen of England. However, unlike other English speaking countries on this list, Ireland is mostly Catholic, although they are both relatively religious compared to other predominately White, English-speaking countries.
- Germany, 7. France, 8. Switzerland, 9. Norway, 10. Bahamas
Top 10 Places Least Similar to the United States
- Cambodia and the United States have very different cultures. Cambodians are Buddhist and are generally good listeners and compromisers in contrast to Americans. Furthermore, they use the unique Khmer script for their writing. In addition, the country’s tropical rainforest climate is much warmer and wetter than the United States. As a result, its agricultural lands primarily grow rice. Their infrastructure isn’t as well developed and few people have cars, although both countries do drive on the right side of the road.
- Somalia is an anarchic country in Africa with war torn infrastructure. Since it is also a conservative Muslim country, its politics are much less liberal. Furthermore, it is mostly desert with vastly different flora and fauna from the United States. However, the country uses the Latin script and some areas of the country were once occupied by Britain, so English is used there to some degree.
- Niger is another mostly Muslim country in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is landlocked and almost completely desert. It is among the poorest countries in the world and has the highest birth rate. The average woman has more than 6 children. The typical diet in Niger is extremely different as well. The most common staple food is millet, but Niger also eats a lot of sorghum. Still, Niger is more democratic than other countries in the bottom 5, although its government is also unstable.
- Eritrea is located on the Red Sea, close to Somalia. The country is primarily desert and also quite mountainous. Its government is a totalitarian one-party dictatorship. Like other countries on this list it has poorly developed infrastructure. Although its population is about 50% Christian, they are part of the Oriental Orthodox denomination. Linguistically, Eritrea has no similarity as well since they speak Afroasiatic languages and use the Ge’ez script.
- Laos is a landlocked tropical country to the north of Cambodia. Its culture and demographics are extremely different from the United States. In contrast the the United States, the government of Laos is dominated by the Communist Party and there is little democracy or rule of law. Although it was once a colony of France, it did not become very westernized. Their people follow both Buddhism and also indigenous beliefs. They also use the unique Lao script for their writing.
- Bangladesh, 7. Guinea-Bissau, 8. Chad, 9. Sudan, 10. Mauritania
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to the United States
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