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 Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei
There are relatively few countries with a high degree of similarity with Indonesia. Unlike other East Asian countries, except Malaysia and Brunei, they are predominately Muslim and therefore have more conservative policies. Although, the Philippines is mostly Catholic, its geography, ancestry, and standard of living are quite similar as well.
While Singapore might seem like another similar country, it does not even make the top 10 for a variety of reasons. It is a much more prosperous country and its standard of living is much higher. Furthermore, only 15% of its population is Muslim. Although one of Singapore’s official languages is Malay, only about 10% of its people speak it natively. Singapore is also a small, extremely densely populated urban area with few agricultural or forested areas, unlike Indonesia.
The least similar countries are all far wealthier and have colder climates. They are all predominately Christian countries. Their technology is also far different, since they drive on the right side of the road, use a different gauge of railroad, and also different electrical outlets.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Indonesia
- Malaysia is highly similar to Indonesia, since the countries both practice Islam and speak mutually intelligible languages. However, Malaysia’s economy is more prosperous. In addition, Malaysia’s government is unique since it is an elective monarchy. Furthermore, unlike Indonesia, most of its agricultural areas are devoted to the cultivation of palm oil.
- Philippines is another densely populated archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Their people have relatively similar demographics and standard of living. However, the biggest difference between the Philippines and Indonesia is religion. Most Filipinos are Catholic, while Indonesians are mostly Muslim. Another big difference is their infrastructure. Philippines drives on the right and uses Type A, B electrical outlets, since it was once a colony of the United States.
- Brunei used to rule a large portion of Borneo, before Indonesia and Malaysia took over a majority of the island. Like Indonesia and Malaysia, Brunei is mostly Muslim and natively speak the Malay language. However, Brunei is much more wealthy and developed than Indonesia due to its oil production. Its government is a authoritarian monarchy, unlike other countries on this list.
- Vietnam is another Asian country bordering the South China Sea that is similar to Indonesia. While Indonesia was colonized by the Netherlands, Vietnam was colonized by France, although it was for a much shorter time period. Both have a similar tropical climate and long coastlines. They also both use the Latin alphabet, despite their languages being completely unrelated. Still, Vietnam’s government is not a democracy and its people are mostly Buddhist, but not especially religious.
- East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002. It still shares the island of Timor with Indonesia. However, it is mostly Catholic, since it was once a colony of Portugal. In addition, the genetics and ancestry of its people are quite different from the majority of Indonesians, since they have more mixture with Melanesians. The country’s official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, although many people still can speak Indonesian there.
- Thailand, 7. Myanmar, 8. Bangladesh, 9. Cambodia, 10. Sri Lanka
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Indonesia
- Canada is by far the least similar country to Indonesia. The countries share little demographic, cultural, or technological similarity. In addition, their climates are significantly different since Canada is one of the coldest countries with relatively little precipitation compared to Indonesia. While Canada technically has a lot of coastline, most of the land area is far from it.
- United States is just to the south of Canada. It also has little similarity to Indonesia in demographics, culture, or technology. One thing the countries do share is that they are both democracies that use the presidential system. The geography of the United States is closer to Indonesia when compared to Canada, in part because it is warmer and has a denser population.
- Iceland is a well developed but sparsely populated country. Not only are their demographics and culture quite different from Indonesia, but also their geography. Iceland’s climate is much colder and hardly any of their land is used for agriculture. Still, both countries are located on mountainous islands.
- Switzerland is one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world. Switzerland’s geography is also quite different from Indonesia, being a temperate, landlocked country. However, both countries are mountainous. It is also more democratic and employs a unique governmental system that has a 7-member executive council.
- Luxembourg is another landlocked and very wealthy European country on this list. Unlike Switzerland and Indonesia, it is not very mountainous. Like other countries on this list, the personality of its people, according to the Lewis Model is far different from Indonesia. Luxembourg and Indonesia have a similar percentage of agricultural land, but they grow completely different crops due to the climate.
- Sweden, 7. Finland, 8. Ireland, 9. Denmark, 10. Norway
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Indonesia
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