Which Countries are Most Similar to India? 2.0

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 Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka

There are relatively few countries with a high degree of similarity with India in part because it is a highly diverse place even within its own boundaries. 4 out of the top 5 nations were originally part of British India, before gaining independence. Some may be surprised that Bhutan is not on this list, but it is more of a hybrid between India and China, while having its own unique eccentricities. India also shares traits with countries like Kenya and Nigeria, who also have adopted English as an official language, a mix of tropical and desert climates, and also significant Muslim populations.

The 5 least similar countries are all highly developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere with much cooler climates. A low percentage of their land is used for agriculture and few people are farmers, unlike India. Furthermore, they all drive on the right side of the road and use a different railroad gauge.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to India

  1. Nepal is the only other country with more than 50% of the population that follows Hinduism. The Nepali language is also similar to Hindi and they use the same writing system. Nepal and India also use the parliamentary system. In addition, the Indian Rupee is legal tender in Nepal. They even have open borders with each other. However, its more mountainous terrain and cooler climate make its geography significantly different.
  2. Pakistan is also similar to India, despite the fact that the countries are on unfriendly terms with each other. Pakistan’s official languages English and Urdu (a dialect of Hindi using the Arabic writing system) are similar to India. However, it has a majority Muslim population. Its climate is also significantly drier.
  3. Sri Lanka is an island off the coast of India. The main differences from India, like Pakistan and Bangladesh, are mostly linguistic and religious. The majority of Sri Lankans practice Theravada Buddhism. The country is also linguistically divided, mainly speaking Sinhalese, but having Tamil speakers as well. However, like India, English is a working language of its government.
  4. Bangladesh, along with Pakistan, was part of India until 1947, so the countries have significant similarities. The main differences are religious and linguistic. Like Pakistan, Bangladesh has a majority Muslim population and their official language is Bengali. The country is also significantly more densely populated and it does not have any tall mountains.
  5. Myanmar is another country on this list that was a province of British India, before becoming independent. However, it is significantly less similar than the others. The ethnicity of its people is more similar to other East Asian populations, like Thailand and Cambodia. Myanmar is also mostly Buddhist and its language is completely unrelated to the major languages spoken in India. Still, their writing systems are distantly related, since they are both abugidas that descended from Brahmi script.
  6. Indonesia, 7. Bhutan, 8. Mauritius, 9. Nigeria, 10. Fiji

Top 10 Places Least Similar to India

  1. Iceland is by far the least similar country to India. It is a well developed, sparsely populated island. Not only are their people and culture quite different from India, but also their geography. Iceland’s climate is much colder and hardly any of their land is used for agriculture. However, one way India is far more developed than Iceland is their heavily used railroad network. In contrast Iceland does not have a railroad.
  2. Finland is another extremely cold and sparsely populated Nordic country. The genetics of its people are further different from India than other European countries, since Finnish people have more genes originating from Siberia. While Cricket is extremely popular in India, Finland’s favorite sport is ice hockey.
  3. Canada and India were both former colonies of Britain, but they quite different in almost every aspect, aside from India adopting English as an official language. Its sparsely populated, highly urbanized population starkly contrasts India’s dense but rural population. Furthermore, India’s mostly vegetarian diet is vastly different from the meat-loving Canadians. In addition, Canada does extremely well at the Olympics for a country its size, in contrast India has won few medals at the Olympics.
  4. Norway is yet another Nordic country on this list. The country is extremely mountainous, unlike most of India. It is more democratic and has a generous welfare system in place for its citizens, due to oil revenue. This has made Norway’s GDP one of the highest in the world.
  5. South Korea is the least similar country in Asia. Although both countries are fairly densely populated, South Korea has much less agricultural land and most of its land is near the coast. Its culture and demographics are particularly different from India. Although a large portion of people in both countries follow Dharmic religions, South Korea is less religious.
  6. United States, 7. Japan, 8. Sweden, 9. Switzerland, 10. New Zealand

    Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to India

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

8 Comments

  1. Actually Canada and India are not so dissimilar. Both were part of the British Empire and later committed to the Commonwealth. English is widespread in both, more so in Canada than India, but the 2% or so of Indians who speak English as a home language (they also tend to have tertiary education) fit right into Canadian society with no problems. India and Canada are both democracies, and the legal frameworks, while not identical, is at least easily comprehensible to persons from the other country. In neither country is there intense government surveillance and control. Indian modes of reasoning and deciding issues are not dissimilar to those found in Canada, and, at least until recently, there was marked religious toleration in both countries, though it is eroding slightly in both.

    While Sikh and Hindu ritual practice is not widespread in Canada outside Indian, Sri Lankan Tamil and Nepalese immigrant communities there, Canadians actually tend to be less intensely involved with their nominal religion than, say, Americans, resembling Europeans more on this variable. They are open to and impressed by Hindu religious philosophy and practices, tending to syncretize it with their existing beliefs which may be somewhat energized in the process. Religious difference from Hinduism and Sikhism is not a source of conflict at all in Canada that I know of, in part because neither of these religions claims to be a universal religion that all people must convert to to be saved, or to attain a state of maximum “spiritual goodness.”

    The main dissimilarities I see between Canada and India are actually:

    1) linguistic (India has a wide array of languages not generally understood in Canada), however many Indians speak English as a second language making this difference less important than it first appears.
    2) India is much poorer than Canada, there are a lot more people living at low income, leading to lower quality medical care, a weaker state social safety net (but a stronger extended family net, which is a good thing), and arguably poorer education and more pollution.
    3) Demographically India has a much much larger population (perhaps 35 times Canada’s; some small states there have a population exceeding Canada’s), a younger population, and a denser population than Canada. As a result, politically India is a Great Power with nuclear weapons, though perhaps marginally so; Canada is at best a Middle Power.
    4) While both countries are large and support a diversity of climates from south to north, India has sub-tropical and tropical regions over most of its area that Canada, which is temperate to polar, does not. As a result India can support a much large population.
    5)Though it is commonly thought that India suffers from a higher level of corruption than Canada, I am not sure that this is genuinely so, but the face of corruption seems to differ in each country.
    6) A major difference, and one that impacts on people living in the society significantly is that Canada has a fairly liberal immigration policy and immigrants have an easy path to citizenship and equal security under law from the point of arrival. India does not take many legal immigrants in proportion to it’s population at all, and persons residing there often are forced to do so with inadequate legal security leading to their potentially being taken of advantage of. Even if they have Indian spouses, immigration is difficult for non-Diasporic males, and dual citizenship is not allowed, though for Diasporic Indians a form of it is; for others no. At least India is moving slowly in this area in the direction of Canada, which allows dual citizenship freely, and actually encourages it. Indian spouses or partners of Canadian citizens are normally eligible to immigrate and to obtain citizenship easily. This is one area where reciprocity or similarity is not present and the situation of immigrants or aspiring ones quite different in the two countries. It is compounded by the more restrictive foreign investment rules in India, or used to be. I have not kept up with recent changes in this area.

    Educated South Asian immigrants are common in Canada and fit quite easily into the society, seemingly validating my conjecture that the two countries are not that dissimilar in ways of thinking at all. Educated Canadians wishing to live permanently in India find it legally, but not necessarily personally, much harder to do so. The situation seems to have improved significantly in the last thirty years as Indian society works itself out of the nearly thousand year trauma of (most recently) British colonization, and before that repeated conquest from Central Asia by people ancestrally from the Eurasian Steppes. I think that what was arguably the unjustified Indian paranoia about foreign immigration that marked its early decades of independence was an understandable reaction to this historical past, and does not reflect a permanent, hard-to-eradicate xenophobic streak in the culture that will persist permanently.

    If Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, ever go ahead with some sort of union (this pan movement is called CANZUK), it is not inconceivable that the US and India might eventually also seek or be given an offer to join and be accepted. In India’s case, my sense is that contrary to your views, similarities are actually sufficient that a genuine popular desire to join such a loose Anglophone federation for emotional, rather than solely material reasons, might be the major factor in whether it becomes a reality or not.

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