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 with countries formerly part of the Ottoman Empire and Iran
The top four countries most similar to Turkey have all been part of the Ottoman Empire at one time or another. These countries are have a high percentage of Muslims, however their governments tend to be more secular and less conservative than other Muslim countries. Iran also shares many traits with Turkey. Both countries are not very democratic, although Iran’s government is much more conservative.
Although many Central Asia are also Muslim and speak Turkic languages, they also have some significant differences from Turkey. They have more of a Russian influence and the ancestry of their people has more origins in Asia. Their geography is also quite different as they are drier and landlocked.
The least similar countries are located in two main regions: Melanesia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In contrast to the relatively dry Turkish climate, the least similar countries get much more rainfall. They are also poorer and their infrastructure is not as well developed. Interestingly enough, four of the top 5 least similar countries have English as their official language.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Turkey
- Azerbaijan is by far the most similar country to Turkey. The most similar language to Turkish is Azeri. The populations of both countries are mostly Muslim, although Azeri are mostly Shia, in contrast to Turkey. In addition, both countries have secular governments with strongmen as rulers. Their geography is also similar, although Azerbaijan does not border the Mediterranean Sea. Since Azerbaijan was once part of the Soviet Union, it has more of a Russian influence than Turkey.
- Albania had been part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, until it gained independence in 1912. It has the highest percentage of Muslims of any country entirely in Europe. Like Turkey, its government is officially secular, although Turks are generally more religious than Albanians. Although their languages are unrelated, both use the Latin alphabet. Both countries are quite mountainous and border the Mediterranean Sea.
- North Macedonia is to the east of Albania. Unlike other countries on this list, it does not have a Muslim majority population, but it still shares many similar customs and infrastructure. However, one big difference is that North Macedonia is landlocked. In addition, it uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
- Tunisia is yet another Mediterranean country on this list, although it is the first located in Africa. It is one of the most liberal and secular Arab countries. Tunisia and Turkey’s flags are extremely similar. In addition, Tunisia has a similar level of development as Turkey. However, it has a warmer and drier climate. Their diet is also similar. Both countries tend to eat many tomatoes.
- Iran is to the southeast of Turkey. It is another mountainous Muslim country. Although most Iranians speak Persian, the country has significant portions of the population that speak Kurdish and Azeri. Both countries excel in the Olympics at wrestling, however Iranians are not as interested in basketball as Turks. Like Azerbaijan, most of its population are Shi’ites, not Sunnis like in Turkey.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina, 7. Montenegro, 8. Bulgaria, 9. Morocco, 10. Romania
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Turkey
- Solomon Islands is tropical archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The country was a colony of Great Britain until 1978. The tropical rainforest nation located in Melanesia shares few things in common with Turkey, except that both countries have a lot of coastline. Furthermore, the country is fairly democratic, unlike Turkey.
- Papua New Guinea is similar to the Solomon Islands. It is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world, in contrast to Turkey’s drier and more temperate climate. Furthermore, its people are Christian and have little genetic similarity to Turks. In addition, they drive on the left and use Type I electrical outlets, unlike Turkey.
- Central African Republic is least similar country in Africa. It is landlocked and a high percentage of its land is forested. It was once a colony of France and as a result, it is mostly Christian. The country is far poorer than Turkey and has a younger population. In addition, its government is more democratic and has less censorship.
- South Sudan is another landlocked country located to the east of Central African Republic. It is a newly formed Christian country that broke off from Sudan, due to civil war. Its infrastructure has yet to be fully modernized. Unlike Sudan, it is mostly Christian and get far more rainfall. The country’s diet is also extremely different from Turkey, since its staples are cassava and yam. Still, Turkey and South Sudan are in the same time zone.
- Liberia is located in West Africa. It is yet another English speaking country on this list, although it was not a British colony like the others. It is mostly Christian and was founded by freed slaves from the United States. The country is quite flat and most of its land is near the Atlantic Coast. In addition, Liberia’s standard of living is far lower than Turkey.
- Malawi, 7. Dem. Republic of Congo, 8. Lesotho, 9. Haiti, 10. Guinea-Bissau
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