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 Catholic and Mediterranean countries
Many countries are similar to Spain. The top five countries are all in the European Union and the top four have a majority Catholic population and natively speak Romance languages.
Although most Latin American countries speak Spanish, only Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay are significantly similar. Many Latin America countries are located in sparsely populated rainforests, in contrast to the chaparral landscape of Spain. Furthermore, Latin American countries tend to have a high diversity of ancestries, unlike Spain. It is also wealthier and more developed than all the Latin American countries.
The four least similar countries to Spain are located in Africa. Their climates are generally hotter and drier than Spain. They also have few cultural or demographic similarities. Four of the five countries are predominately Muslim nations with much more conservative laws and less democracy.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Spain
- Portugal is Spain’s only neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula, although it does not actually border the Mediterranean. They share similar demographics and culture. Both countries have a similar climate and grow many olives. Furthermore, they both use a unique railroad gauge, not used anywhere else in Europe. One difference is that Portugal has a semi-presidential system of government, while Spain is a constitutional monarchy.
- Italy is just across the Balearic Sea from Spain. The two countries have similar climate, demographics, and culture. In addition, both are parliamentary multi-party democracies with similar laws. In addition, they share some sporting similarities, since they both have won the World Cup and have also have strong soccer and basketball leagues.
- France is the only other country in Europe that borders both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It has roughly the same population density and pollution. Like Italy and Spain, it is also is strong in soccer. However, France has a more diverse population, since it has more Muslims and Africans. Furthermore, France’s climate is wetter and cooler.
- Belgium was once known as Spanish Netherlands, since it was ruled by the Habsburgs for over 100 years. The two countries governments are quite similar since they are both constitutional democracies with similar liberal laws. Unlike Portugal, France, and Italy, Belgians drink more beer than wine, like the Spanish. Still Belgium is more north and significantly denser in population.
- Greece is another country that borders the Mediterranean and has a very similar climate and vegetation. The personality of their people are among the most extroverted in Europe, according to the Lewis Model. However there are some big differences too. Greeks are generally Orthodox Christian, not Catholic. Although Greek is part of the same language family as Spanish it is significantly different. It also uses a different writing system.
- Slovenia, 7. Luxembourg, 8. Croatia, 9. Austria, 10. Czechia
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Spain
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, near Somalia and Yemen. It is predominately Muslim and most people speak Arabic there. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its authoritarian government and lack of development also make it quite different from Spain.
- Somalia is another anarchic Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure, due to civil war. Its conservative policies contrast Spain’s more liberal society. However, both countries do have lots of coastline. In addition, Somalia actually uses the Latin alphabet, despite their people natively speaking an Afroasiatic language.
- Eritrea is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, however the Christians there are part of the Oriental Orthodox denomination. The country also uses the unique Ge’ez script for its writing system. In addition, Eritrea has one of the world’s most authoritarian governments.
- Niger is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. Like other countries on this list it is mostly Muslim. However, since it was colonized by France, French is the official language and the Latin alphabet is used there. Its demographics are also significantly different since it is one of the youngest countries in the world on average.
- Yemen, unlike other countries on this list, is located on the Arabian Peninsula. It is another conservative Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure, due to on-going civil war. Still, the people of these countries do not have extremely different ancestry, since Yemenis are considered to be Caucasian.
- Chad, 7. Mauritania, 8. South Sudan, 9. Papua New Guinea, 10. Gambia
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