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 Southeast Asian countries
There are few countries with a high degree of similarity with Laos. They are all tropical countries located in Southeast Asia. They generally have mix of Indian and Chinese influences to varying degrees. Rice is also the major staple food of the typical diet in all these countries. The four most similar countries are predominately Buddhist.
Interestingly enough, the least similar countries are all English-speaking countries that are mostly Christian. These countries also have a much higher standard of living than Laos. Their government are also far more democratic and in general have more liberal laws.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Laos
- Cambodia and Laos were both part of the Khmer Empire and more recently, French Indochina, so the countries have significant demographic and cultural similarities. They have similar public holidays, like New Year’s Day in April, Vesak Day, and Women’s Day. They are also some of the least developed countries in the region. However, Laos is landlocked and more mountainous.
- Myanmar is another country that practices Theravada Buddhism. Both countries are quite mountainous and not very urbanized. One big difference is that Myanmar was once part of British India, so it has a greater British than Laos, which was colonized by France.
- Vietnam, like Cambodia and Laos, was part of French Indochina. Like Laos, it is also a one party Communist state. Although it is a Buddhist country, it differs significantly from the top 2 countries since its people follow Mahayana tradition. Both countries’ agricultural areas almost exclusively grow rice and their diets are based on it. However, Vietnam is more prosperous and has a lot of coastline. In addition, it uses the Latin script.
- Thailand and Laos were part of the Khmer Empire before the kingdom declined. Thai and Lao are mutually intelligible languages and their writing systems are similar. Still, only around half of the Laotian population speaks Lao natively. Thailand is also wealthier and more developed than Laos. It also has a higher percentage of farmland and a lower percentage of forested land than Laos.
- Indonesia is far less similar to Laos than the top four countries on this list. Still, both countries have East Asian ancestry, tropical climates, and are mountainous. They also have a similar diet. The big differences are that Indonesia is mostly Muslim, speaks a language completely different from Laotian, and uses the Latin writing system. It is also an archipelago, in contrast to landlocked Laos.
- Philippines, 7. Madagascar, 8. Nepal, 9. Bhutan, 10. North Korea
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Laos
- Canada has very few traits in common with Laos. It is one of the coldest countries in the world and it also has a lot of coastline, in contrast to Laos. In addition, while Laos has an authoritarian government with little rule of law, Canada has one of the most democratic governments in the world.
- Ireland is mostly pasture land and is not very mountainous, in contrast to Laos. The country also has a majority Catholic population. Its infrastructure is especially different from Laos, since it drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets.
- United Kingdom is a relatively flat island, in contrast to mountainous and landlocked Laos. It is much more developed and densely populated. In addition, like Ireland, its infrastructure is especially different from Laos, since it drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets.
- United States is vastly different from Laos in all five factors: demographics, culture, politics, technology, and geography. One thing they do share is that they were both European colonies at some point, however Laos was colonized by the French, unlike the United States which has a contrasting British influence.
- Australia unlike other countries on this list, is relatively close in distance to Laos. While Laos is covered in forests, Australia is mostly desert and has completely different flora and fauna. In addition, its infrastructure is quite different since it drives on the left and uses Type I electrical outlets, although the voltage is the same.
- Denmark, 7. Netherlands, 8. Germany, 9. Belgium, 10. New Zealand
Do you agree with the list?
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