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 predominately Christian countries near the Caribbean
Belize is unique in that it has traits of both Latin American countries and former British colonies in the Caribbean. Although its official language is English, Spanish is also widely spoken there. Former British colonies tend to have more Protestants, while Spanish-speaking countries have more Catholics. Belize has a mix of both, although it is less religiously diverse than countries like Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.
Some of the other countries in the West Indies, like Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, would be in contention for this list, but they are too small in population and land area to have enough reliable data for this project.
The least similar countries are all located in Asia. Four of the five least similar countries also have autocratic governments. Most of these countries are much more mountainous as well. Belize is neither especially rich or poor, so the five least similar countries include both very affluent countries as well as impoverished countries.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Belize
- Jamaica is another English-speaking country in the Caribbean. The British brought slaves from Jamaica to Belize to help cut down trees to sell to Europeans. The governments of both countries are constitutional monarchies that have two major parties and a bicameral legislature. In addition, they both have decriminalized marijuana. However, Belize is more diverse than Jamaica since more than 30% of its people natively speak Spanish and has an even mix of Catholics and Protestants.
- Bahamas is another former British colony. Both countries make a lot of their money through tourism. A small percentage of land in the Bahamas and Belize is used for agriculture, but their main crop is sugarcane. However, the vast majority of the people in the Bahamas have African ancestry, while Belizians have a wide variety of ancestries. In addition, it is significantly wealthier.
- Panama is a Spanish-speaking country in Central America. Its technology is similar to Panama since it uses the same electrical grid, drives on the right, and has little military equipment. Both countries also have a relatively high percentage of flights per capita. However, Panama is wealthier than Belize. Furthermore, Belize has no skyscrapers, while Panama has many.
- Nicaragua is another Central American country that had significant British involvement. The Caribbean coast of the country, known as the Mosquito Coast, was colonized by Great Britain until it was transferred to Nicaragua in 1905. As a result, it has the next highest percentage of people with African ancestry in Central America, after Belize.
- Honduras is to the south of Belize. It also has a roughly even mix of Catholics and Protestants, like Belize. Their people have about the same standard of living. Their populations are also relatively young. However, Honduras is more mountainous than Belize.
- El Salvador, 7. Trinidad & Tobago, 8. Guyana, 9. Guatemala, 10. Dominican Republic
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Belize
- Japan has little demographic or cultural similarity to Belize. Their transportation infrastructure is especially different, since Japan drives on the left and has far more vehicles. In addition, Belize does not have an active railroad. Unlike other countries in Central America, Belize is quite flat, in contrast to Japan. However, both use Type A, B electrical outlets.
- China‘s demographics and culture are obviously far different from Belize. It also has a greater diversity of landscapes. While China has a huge amount of media and internet censorship, Belize has very little. In addition, according to the Lewis Model, Belizeans tend to be much more outgoing than the Chinese.
- Afghanistan is a Muslim country in Asia that has a much lower standard of living than Belize. While most of Belize is near the coast, Afghanistan is landlocked and far more mountainous. In addition, its government is more conservative and anarchic.
- North Korea is yet another country in East Asia on this list. Belize has little religious, cultural, or demographic similarity to North Korea. It also has the least similar government to Belize, since North Korea is ruled by an authoritarian leader and a one-party communist government. North Korea’s climate is also much colder. Still, most of the land in both countries is close to the ocean.
- Saudi Arabia is another predominately Muslim country on the list, like Afghanistan. However, it is far wealthier than both Afghanistan and Belize. Furthermore, its laws are also far more conservative than in Belize. Gambling and alcohol are not allowed there. Its climate is also much drier and its landscape is barren.
- Eritrea, 7. Iran, 8. South Korea, 9. Yemen, 10. Sudan
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