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 former republics of the USSR
It’s no surprise that the most similar countries to Russia were all once part of the USSR. Most were part of the Russian Empire at one time or another as well. This has made these countries have some unique features, which most other countries don’t. For instance, all former USSR countries use the Russian broad gauge for their train tracks. In addition, most still use the same power grid: the IPS/UPS.
The least similar countries come from two different places. Melanesia has little similarity, despite the fact that both countries are predominately Christian. Another group of countries with little similarity are Muslim countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Russia
- Belarus was a former member of the Soviet Union and retains more ties to Russia than others. Citizens of both countries can move freely between them and also work. Belarus also has the highest percentage of Russian speakers outside of Russia. The biggest difference is that most of Belarus is agricultural land, while Russia is far more sparsely populated and has more wilderness.
- Ukraine had been part of the Russian Empire for over 100 years, even before it became part of the Soviet Union. Their demographics, culture, and technology are all quite similar, even though diplomatic relations between the two countries at this point have broken down significantly. Like Ukraine, the biggest difference between the countries is geography, although they border each other.
- Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, had been part of the Russian Empire for over 100 years. Both countries still maintain significant economic and military ties. The biggest difference between Russia and Kazakhstan is the ethnicity of its people. Kazakhs are Turkic people who practice Islam. However, there still are a large amount of Russians living in Kazakhstan and Russian is still an official language there. Their governments are quite similar as well. Both countries are sparsely populated, but Kazakhstan has a warmer and drier climate.
- Latvia was also part of the Soviet Union, before it became independent. It is now part of the European Union. The country is located between the Baltic Sea and Russia. It is a diverse mix of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians, although both Latvia and Russia are not very religious. However, in general, Latvians are less outgoing than Russians. In addition, it has a higher level of development.
- Lithuania is located on the Baltic Sea, next to Belarus and Latvia. It is another member of the EU on this list. Like Latvia and Russia, Lithuanians speak Balto-Slavic languages. Furthermore, both have a high ratio of women to men. One big difference is that Lithuanians are Catholic and more religious, while Russians are Orthodox and less religious.
- Serbia, 7. Estonia, 8. Bulgaria, 9. Slovakia, 10. Romania
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Russia
- Somalia is located in Africa on the Indian Ocean coast. It is conservative Muslim country.The country has been at civil war, so its infrastructure is not well developed. In contrast to Russia’s subarctic taiga, it is located in a tropical desert. Still, both countries are sparsely populated.
- Papua New Guinea is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world. Its people have little in common demographically or culturally with Russia. Furthermore, although its people are Christians, they are generally Protestants, while Russia has a high rate of irreligious people. In addition, its technology is far different, since it drives on the left, uses different electrical outlets, and has no railroads in use.
- Solomon Islands is another country similar to Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. Unlike Russia, which has one of the strongest militaries in the world, Solomon Islands doesn’t even have a military. The islands also need to import all their energy in the form of oil, while Russia relies on domestically produced gas. The country’s government is also more democratic.
- Sierra Leone is an African country on the Atlantic Coast. It was originally created by the British as a place for freed slaves to settle. It is especially different from Russia demographically. Its people are much skinnier and shorter than Russians on average. In addition, it has a high rate of poverty. The country is predominately Muslim and more religious than Russia. The diet of people in Sierra Leone is especially dissimilar since they mostly eat rice and cassava.
- Gambia is another predominately Muslim former British colony in Africa. The country is densely populated and its land is concentrated along the Gambia River. Like other countries on this list, its climate is far hotter than Russia, although they get about the same amount of rainfall.
- Malawi, 7. Niger, 8. Sudan, 9. Eritrea, 10. Guinea-Bissau
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Russia
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