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 Japan, Taiwan, and North Korea
Very few countries are similar to South Korea. The closest would be their neighbors, Japan, Taiwan, and North Korea. Japan and Taiwan are both well developed, democratic East Asian countries that border the North Pacific Ocean. North Korea, while having huge similarities in culture, especially linguistically, also has huge differences especially in technology and politics. Outside of the countries closest in proximity, European countries are the most similar, but still have huge differences as well.
All of the countries least similar to South Korea are unsurprisingly located in hot desert climates. In addition, they are all Muslim majority countries as well. They do not have well developed infrastructure and have far more conservative laws. Four of the five least similar are located in Africa.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to South Korea
- Japan annexed South Korea in 1910 and occupied the country until the end of World War II. The demographics and geography of these countries are significantly similar. Both also share similar sports culture, being most interested in baseball and soccer, while also excelling in the Olympics. However, Korea is more westernized. It has a large percentage of Christians. Furthermore, most Korean males are circumcised, unlike in Japan. The countries both have highly developed infrastructure, however Japan drives on the left and uses different electrical outlets and voltage.
- Taiwan was another protectorate of Japan until the end of World War II. South Korea and Taiwan are densely-populated mountainous lands whose agriculture is primarily rice, although Taiwan is more tropical. In addition, the countries have a similar standard of living. Taiwan drives on the right, like South Korea, but it uses Type A, B electrical outlets like Japan.
- North Korea is the only other country that speaks Korean and uses its unique writing system, Hangul. However, there are huge political and technological differences between South Korea and North Korea. While South Korea is a two-party democracy, North Korea is a one-party authoritarian dictatorship. In addition, North Korea is far poorer and has less developed infrastructure. Still, considering that the countries share the same peninsula, their geography is similar, although North Korea is less densely populated.
- China has had a great cultural influence on South Korea due to its proximity. In addition, both countries are not especially religious, but they do practice the same school of Buddhism. However, South Korea also has a significant population of Christians. In addition, South Korea is more developed than China and their languages are completely different. One big difference is that China has a lot more desert and also a wider variety of biomes. Like North Korea, the country is controlled by a one-party authoritarian government, but it is less extreme.
- Germany is the only European country in the top 5, although it has a similar score to other European countries, since they generally have a similar standard of living and climate. Both countries are not especially religious, but both have a significant percentage of Protestants. Unlike Japan, South Korea adopted standard Continental European infrastructure since they drive on the right, use the standard railroad gauge, and have Type C, F electrical outlets with a similar voltage, just like Germany. They are also both known for their considerable skill in engineering. Interestingly enough, Germany was once split into East and West Germany along a highly militarized border, like Korea is today.
- France, 7. Slovenia, 8. Bulgaria, 9. Poland, 10. Vietnam
Top 10 Places Least Similar to South Korea
- Yemen is a war-torn conservative Muslim country that, unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, is poorly developed as a result. Due to civil war, its government is anarchic. The country has very loose gun laws and the second most guns per capita in the world. The country’s desert landscape is quite barren and has little forest cover.
- Somalia is across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. It is another anarchic, Muslim country in Africa with poorly developed infrastructure. It also has a hot dry climate in contrast to South Korea’s wetter and cooler climate. The country lacks any railroads and has few vehicles per capita. However, both countries have a lot of coastline.
- Niger has the youngest population in the world. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world. South Korea is on the opposite end of the spectrum in these statistics. Furthermore, Niger is a landlocked, sparsely populated desert country, in contrast to South Korea. Still, Niger’s government is more democratic than some other similar countries.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert. It is another conservative Muslim country, like the first three on the list. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Their governments are especially dissimilar, since Sudan has more far more conservative laws and less rule of law.
- Chad is another African country near Sudan and Niger. It is landlocked and mostly barren desert. However, both countries have a significant Christian population, although Chad is mostly Muslim. There is also some similar infrastructure since both countries use Type C electrical outlets and drive on the right. Still, it is much less developed than South Korea.
- Mali, 7. Eritrea, 8. South Sudan, 9. Mauritania, 10. Central African Rep.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to South Korea
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