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 Ireland, New Zealand, and countries bordering the North Sea
Many countries are similar to the U.K. Four of the top five most similar countries are all in close proximity to it. In general, these countries speak Germanic languages. In addition, they all have parliamentary forms of government.
Although Australia and Canada also speak English natively and are part of the British Commonwealth, they also have significant differences, especially in geography. Not only is Australia’s climate is much hotter and drier, but it is also on the opposite end of the earth. Canada’s climate is significantly colder and it is also more sparsely populated.
The four least similar countries to the U.K. are all sparsely populated desert countries in Africa. They all have a significant population of Muslims. They are also far poorer than the U.K. and their infrastructure is extremely different.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to the United Kingdom
- Ireland is by far the most similar country to the United Kingdom. In fact it was part of it for over 100 years. It wasn’t until 1922 that it got its independence. British citizens are still allowed to reside and work in Ireland without a visa. The countries have similar culture, technology, and geography. The biggest difference between Ireland and the United Kingdom is religion. The Irish are Catholic and more religious. According to the Lewis Model, British people are also less outgoing than the Irish.
- Netherlands is just across the North Sea from the U.K. Both countries had considerable seafaring ability with their merchants establishing trading posts in distant locations. Both countries are Christian, but not particularly religious. In addition, over 90% of Dutch can speak English. The countries also have a similar climate and most of their land is devoted to agriculture.
- Denmark is also located to the east of the U.K., across the North Sea. The Danes ruled a large part of England for over 100 years, so it is no wonder Denmark is high on this list. Both countries are predominately Protestant. Denmark’s relatively flat land, extensive coastlines, and similar agriculture, make its landscape quite similar to the U.K. as well. Furthermore, both countries are constitutional monarchies with similar governmental policies.
- New Zealand was originally a British colony, so it is no wonder that it is high on this list. In fact of all the former British colonies, New Zealand is the most similar. Although it is on the opposite side of the world, it has significant geographical similarities to Britain since it is also an island with a temperate climate. However, New Zealand is much more mountainous.
- Belgium is the only country in the top 5 which has a significant amount of its people speaking a non-Germanic language. Belgium’s energy production is similar to U.K., since they both have a mix of gas, nuclear, biomass, and wind power plants. Both countries are constitutional monarchies and in fact the royal family of Belgium is closely related to United Kingdom’s. In addition, while Belgium is mostly Catholic, like the U.K., it is not especially religious.
- Germany, 7. Australia, 8. Luxembourg, 9. Norway, 10. France
Top 10 Places Least Similar to the United Kingdom
- Eritrea is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, however it is Oriental Orthodox and much more religious than the UK. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. Its climate is much drier and its landscape is more barren. The country also uses the unique Ge’ez script for writing.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert that has little development of its infrastructure. Although Chad has some European influence, its colonizers were French. So while it is mostly Muslim, it also has some Christians who are mostly Catholic.
- Niger is a similar country to Chad located to its west. The country has the youngest population in the world, in stark contrast to the U.K., which is much older. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world, while U.K. has one of the lowest. The country is nearly 100% Muslim. Still, both countries use the Latin alphabet for their writing.
- Sudan was once effectively a British colony and has English as one of its official languages, although few people there speak it. Other than that, there is very little that these countries have in common. Sudan recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan, due to civil war. The country is mostly Muslim and has far more conservative laws.
- Laos is a landlocked tropical country in Southeast Asia. Its culture and demographics are extremely different from the U.K. In contrast the the U.K., 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. The country is landlocked, mountainous, and heavily forested, in contrast to the U.K.
- Yemen, 7. Somalia, 8. Mali, 9. Mauritania, 10. Cambodia
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to the United Kingdom
Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.