Which Countries are Most Similar to Iran? 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 other Muslim countries

There isn’t one country that is clearly more similar to Iran than any other country, however it is similar to many countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. Iran is fairly unique since it is one of the only countries where a majority of the people are Shi’ites. In addition, many of the countries around it speak languages from completely different language families.

The four least similar countries are all located on islands. Four of the five least similar countries were once British colonies and still have English as one of their official languages. Iran’s standard of living and infrastructure are not especially good or bad, so some of the least similar countries are far wealthier, while others are far more poor.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to Iran

  1. Iraq has often been a part of the great empires amassed by Persia throughout history. At present, it is one of the few countries in the world with a majority Shi’ite population. The country also produces a lot of oil and gas, like Iran. The biggest difference is that Iraqis speak Arabic, instead of Persian. Still, both countries have a significant Kurdish population. Iran’s government is also less democratic, since it is essentially run by religious clerics.
  2. Syria is even further to the west of Iran than Iraq. It is one of Iran’s closest allies. Syria even has two Iranian military bases within its borders. The countries have similar diets, consisting mostly of chicken and wheat-based foods. In addition, their governments are both authoritarian. However, Syria’s laws are generally less conservative than Iran’s.
  3. Egypt is the most similar country in Africa to Iran. It may not seem like an obvious choice for this list, but both countries have similar conservative Muslim laws. In addition, the governments of both countries are authoritarian. They censor journalists and block many internet sites. Furthermore, the countries have similar standards of living, since they are neither extremely poor or rich.
  4. Afghanistan is most similar country linguistically to Iran. Persian and Dari (the lingua franca of Afghanistan) are essentially the same language. They both use the same writing script as well. Its landscape is also quite similar since it is also a mountainous desert country in the same region. However, Afghanistan is much poorer than Iran. While both countries are predominately Muslim, most Afghans are Shias.
  5. Azerbaijan is Iran’s neighbor to its north. There is actually a large population of Azeris living in Iran. It is another country whose economy relies on the production of oil and natural gas. Both countries have authoritarian governments. However, Azerbaijan is less conservative. In addition, the countries are completely different linguistically, as Azerbaijan speaks a Turkic language and uses the Latin script. Since Azerbaijan was once part of the Soviet Union, it has more of a Russian influence as well. Although both countries are mostly Shia Muslims, Azeris are far less religious.
  6. Algeria, 7. Jordan, 8. Tajikistan, 9. Turkey, 10. Libya

Top 10 Places Least Similar to Iran

  1. Bahamas is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the country is close to sea level, unlike mountainous Iran. It is also quite different demographically, since it is mostly Christian and its people have predominately African ancestry. Their infrastructure also is very different as the Bahamas uses Type A, B plugs, drives on the left, and has no railroad system. The Bahamas also has a relatively weak military, unlike Iran. 
  2. Solomon Islands is yet another English-speaking country located on an archipelago in this list, although it is located in the Pacific Ocean. Both countries are mountainous, but most of the country’s area is located near the beach. The Solomon Islands are also quite different demographically, since it is mostly Christian and its people have predominately Melanesian ancestry. The country is also more democratic and does not have any dominate political parties.
  3. Papua New Guinea is very similar to the Solomon Islands. It is one of the wettest countries in the world, in contrast to Iran’s drier climate. Furthermore, its people are Christian and have little genetic similarity to Iranians. In addition, they drive on the left and use Type I electrical outlets, unlike Iran. Moreover, its infrastructure is also far less developed than Iran’s.
  4. Japan is yet another archipelago on this list with little similarity to Iran, other than technically being on the same continent. Its demographics, culture, politics, and technology are all quite different from Iran. It is far less religious. Its language and writing system also have completely no relation to Persian.
  5. Malawi is the least similar country in Africa. The country is mostly Christian and has few Muslims. It is one of the world’s least developed countries. In addition, water is plentiful and it is located around one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Furthermore, Malawi’s government is more democratic.
  6. Haiti, 7. Liberia, 8. Lesotho, 9. New Zealand, 10. Madagascar

    Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Iran

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


  1. These maps are wonderful, thank you for making them! I’d be very interested in seeing Somalia, as it’s consistently least similar to so many countries.


  2. It’s very interesting to see that Egypt is second although the are quite different in culture, politics demography and geography.
    By the way how Egypt is the most similar to Iran politically?
    Egypt has a secular government and Iran has a religious government.
    Egypt is an US ally while Iran is in the Russian-Chinese side. On top of that Egypt is a part of an anti Iranian alliance with the Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


    1. World Policy Center lists Egypt as a religious government, not secular. Both have authoritarian governments. Almost all their laws from abortion to LGBT rights, to prostitution are nearly identical. Its interesting you bring up allies which is somewhat included in which countries receive weapons from each other recently. Egypt got them from Russia, France, and USA, while Iran got them from Russia and China.


      1. Thanks for the comment, maybe after the revolution and the Muslim brotherhood the government has become religious because under Mubarak administration they had a secular government (like Sadam in Iraq or Syria). Even now the leaders of Egypt has no religious background.


  3. By the way it’s very interesting to see that Egypt is the second closest country to Iran but Iran is not the top 10


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