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 both Scandinavian and Baltic countries
Although Finland’s language is not even in the same family as Scandinavian countries, they still have a high degree of similar traits. In addition, due to its close proximity and history with Russia, but also its full membership in the European Union, it also has similar characteristics of Baltic countries, especially Estonia and Latvia.
The four least similar countries all border the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Although they are relatively in close proximity to Finland and are also sparsely populated, their climate is much hotter and drier. In addition, these countries have a far lower standard of living and very different cultures.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Finland
- Sweden is extremely similar to Finland, due in part to the fact that Finland was part of Sweden for almost 700 years. In fact, Swedish is still one of Finland’s official languages. Although the Swedish language is vastly different from Finnish, the two languages use essentially the same alphabet and orthography. Both countries are mostly Protestant but are not especially religious. One big difference is that Sweden does not use the Euro.
- Estonia is the most linguistically similar country to Finland, since they both speak Finnic languages. However, there is also a high percentage of Russian speakers in Estonia. Because of this greater Russian influence, there are actually more Orthodox Christians than Protestants there, but both countries have many atheists. Estonia also has a very similar sports culture to Finland, since they both like ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, but also have done well in wrestling, cross-country skiing and track & field at the Olympics.
- Norway is another Scandinavian country, similar to Finland and Sweden. The countries have a similar standard of living and climate. However, there are also some big differences. Finland is quite flat, while Norway is extremely mountainous. It is also less heavily forested. In addition, Norway is not in the European Union, nevertheless it still is part of the Nordic Council.
- Latvia, like Estonia, is another Baltic country that had been part of the Soviet Union but is now in the European Union. Due to Russian influence, both counties use 5 ft. gauge railroad tracks. Although both countries use the Latin alphabet, unlike Estonia and Finland, their people speak an Indo-European language. Another difference is that Latvia is more conservative and less prosperous than Finland. Unlike others on this list, the country is a mix of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians.
- Denmark also borders the Baltic Sea, but its climate is much more temperate than other countries on this list. This also has an affect on its sports culture, as it has little interest in ice hockey and is not nearly as good in the Winter Olympics as other countries on this list. It also has much less forested land, since most of it is used for agriculture. Still, both countries are very flat but also highly urbanized and have a similar standard of living.
- Germany, 7. Austria, 8. Netherlands, 9. France 10. Lithuania
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Finland
- Yemen is a war-torn and extremely conservative Muslim country that unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, is not well developed. The countries have no linguistic similarity as well. One similarity is that most people in both countries could be considered Caucasian, although their ancestry is quite different.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, across the Red Sea from Yemen. It is another poor Muslim country, like others on this list, that has recently experienced internal conflicts. As a result, it lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan.
- Eritrea is located on the Red Sea, next to Sudan. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population. However, they are mostly Oriental Orthodox. In addition, it is extremely poor and its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years.
- Somalia is another country located on the Horn of Africa. Due to on-going civil war it is an anarchic, Muslim country with a low standard of living in stark contrast to Finland. Furthermore, Somalia has little infrastructure, while Finland has many cars and trains per person. However, both countries do use the Latin alphabet.
- Niger is a landlocked, predominately Muslim country in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The country has the youngest population in the world, in stark contrast to Finland., which is much older. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world, while Finland has one of the lowest.
- Chad, 7. Gambia, 8. Bangladesh, 9. Mauritania, 10. South Sudan
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Finland
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