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 other countries on the Arabian peninsula
The top 5 countries most similar to Saudi Arabia are its neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula. All of these countries, except for Jordan are in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The GCC is similar to the European Union in that people and goods are allowed to flow freely between their countries. Furthermore, while these countries do not have a shared currency, all of their currencies have a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar. In addition, they are among the driest countries in the world and have little vegetation.
The least similar countries are all quite poor and underdeveloped. In addition, their governments are more democratic than Saudi Arabia. They also get far more rainfall. With the exception of Haiti, they are all located in the Southern Hemisphere.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Saudi Arabia
- Oman is another absolute monarchy which is conservative and censors journalists. It also shares similar demographics and development of infrastructure. The biggest difference between the two countries is their religious denomination. Most people in Oman are Ibadi Muslims whereas most people in Saudi Arabia are Sunni Muslims.
- Kuwait is a small country between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It is another country with a lot of wealth from oil. In the past, Saudi Arabia wanted to annex the entire Kuwaiti territory. However it did manage to annex two-thirds of its territory in the 1920s. One difference is that over one third of Kuwaitis are Shia. In addition, there is a significant Christian population there.
- Jordan is a Sunni Muslim country to the north of Saudi Arabia. Jordan’s royal family, the Hashemites, once ruled the Kingdom of Hejaz, which comprises both Mecca and Medina, but were taken over by the Saudis in the 1920s. Therefore, Jordan’s culture and demographics are extremely similar to Saudi Arabia. However, its economy is not nearly as advanced, since there is relatively little oil there.
- Qatar is a small peninsula connected to Saudi Arabia. Political relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have broken down recently and the border between them had been closed for several years. Another difference is that it is much more densely populated. Despite this, both countries have a high degree of similarity.
- United Arab Emirates is another oil-rich Muslim country with a high level of development. However, UAE is far more cosmopolitan than Saudi Arabia. Nearly 90% of its inhabitants are immigrants, many coming from the Indian subcontinent. Still, both countries are monarchies are with relatively conservative laws.
- Libya, 7. Bahrain, 8. Egypt, 9. Iraq, 10. Syria
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Saudi Arabia
- Papua New Guinea is a tropical Christian country in the Pacific Ocean. In contrast to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, it is one of the wettest countries on Earth. While Saudi Arabia is highly developed, Papua New Guinea has little infrastructure. Furthermore, Papua New Guinea is a democracy, although it still technically does have a monarch, since it is part of the Commonwealth realm. It also drives on the left and uses Type I electrical outlets, unlike Saudi Arabia. In addition, its people have especially little genetic similarity, since most Papuans are part of the Australoid race.
- Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Since the country was once a colony of France, it is mostly Catholic and has little cultural or demographic similarity to Saudi Arabia. Much of its land is used for farming and many people are farmers, quite unlike Saudi Arabia. However, the countries are located at relatively the same latitude. Both countries drive on the right side of the road as well.
- Lesotho is another poor Christian country on this list. It is quite mountainous and landlocked, since it is completely surrounded by South Africa. Although both countries are monarchies, Lesotho’s monarch only has ceremonial powers and the government is mostly democratic.
- Mozambique is a tropical African country. It was a colony of Portugal before its independence. It has the least similar technology to Saudi Arabia, not only is it quite poor, but it also drives on the left and uses a different train gauge. Although it is mostly Christian, it has the highest percentage of Muslims on this list with around 20%.
- Malawi is a landlocked country to the west of Mozambique. It is located on Lake Malawi, the world’s fourth largest freshwater lake and a large percentage of its land area is lakes or wetlands, in contrast to the Arabian desert. The country is also fairly democratic, in contrast to Saudi Arabia.
- Solomon Islands, 7. Burundi, 8. Democratic Republic of Congo, 9. East Timor, 10. Central African Republic
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Saudi Arabia
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