Regions of the World

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 data from the Country Similarity Index was used to cluster countries into different regions. Some unique countries, like Bhutan, North Korea, and Israel, are very difficult to group with other countries. Therefore, it was necessary to make the largest regions still have a great deal of variation within them. This resulted in 9 distinct macro-regions:

  1. Western World
  2. Central & South America
  3. Middle East & North Africa
  4. Sub-Saharan Africa
  5. Central Asia
  6. South Asia
  7. East Asia
  8. Southeast Asia
  9. South Pacific

Please see this article, which compares these groupings to other regional maps created by geographers.
It must be noted that these macro-regions still have very significant differences within them. Countries as different as Russia and Australia are still grouped together. In addition, some countries are really blends of two different regions. For example, Pakistan could be considered either part of the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent. To account for this, the 9 macro-regions were further divided into 27 sub-regions, and even smaller groups within those sub-regions.
The countries in each region and their individual pages are as follows:

Western World
1-A)United States, Canada
Australia, New Zealand
Great Britain, Ireland
1-B)Poland, Czechia, Hungary, BulgariaSerbia, Slovakia, Croatia,
Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro
Germany, France, Netherlands, BelgiumAustria, Switzerland, Luxembourg
Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway  
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia 
Italy, Spain, Portugal  
Greece, Cyprus
Iceland, Greenland
Romania, Moldova 
Albania
1-C)Russia, Ukraine, Belarus
Georgia, Armenia

Central & South America
2-A)Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas
Guyana, Suriname 
Belize 
2-B)Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Rep.,
Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay
Bolivia, Paraguay 
Cuba
Brazil
– French Guiana 
Haiti (also groups with 4-B)
2-C)Cape Verde
2-D)Mauritius, Reunion

Middle East & North Africa
3-A)Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain
Yemen (also groups with 4-A), Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Palestine
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia 
Lebanon
3-B)Israel
3-C)Iran, Afghanistan
Pakistan (also groups with 5-C)

Sub-Saharan Africa
4-A)Niger, Mali, Chad 
Somalia, Djibouti
Sudan, Mauritania
4-B)Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, Benin, Togo, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau
Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi
D.R. Congo, Cameroon, Central African Rep., Rep. Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea
Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia
Mozambique, Angola
Madagascar 
South Sudan
4-C)South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini 
4-D)Ethiopia, Eritrea

South Asia
5-A)India, Nepal
5-B)Bhutan
5-C)Bangladesh
5-D)Sri Lanka

Central Asia
6-A)Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan
Turkey (also groups with 1-B), Azerbaijan
Tajikistan
6-B)Mongolia

East Asia
7-A)China, Taiwan
7-B)Japan, South Korea
7-C)North Korea

Southeast Asia
8-A)Cambodia, Laos
Myanmar
Thailand
Vietnam
8-B)Singapore
8-C)Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei
Philippines
East Timor (also groups with 9-A)

South Pacific
9-A)Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia  
Fiji 
Samoa

It is hoped that this study has created a more rigorous and logical world regional map than any previously created. More information on the similarities of each region to follow in later articles.

Here is the hierarchical clustering dendrogram, used to create the map:

A larger, high resolution version of the world regions map:

Finally it may best to look at countries as a connected web, not hierarchical clusters.
Here is a version of the map as a connected web:

Do you agree with these regions of the world?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

7 Comments

  1. Great! This is exactly what I hoped in since the beginning!
    The map shows many interesting facts, such as Cape Verde, Mauritius and Reunion being more similar to the Americas than to Africa. Apparently it matters more when and by whom your country was colonized, than where it is geographically located.
    Another interesting fact – the term Eastern Europe in its Cold War borders is unjustified. The only real Eastern Europe consists of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The remaining countries often labeled as Eastern European (Poland etc.) are indeed different from western European countries such as Germany, France or Italy, but not more than these continental western European countries are different from the Nordic countries or from the British Isles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, still working on a variation of your map, which i think is actually a better way to look at the world. In truth there is a gradient of countries and a web better explains the nuances. Forcing countries into specific boxes is interesting for sure though.

      Like

  2. Very interesting, thank you for your hard work!

    Could you share the average height for males and females in each region, please? Preferably in centimeters, if possible.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    Like

  3. Thank you for your impressive work. It would be nice, however, if your tables of detailed similarity analysis for each country could also be automatically ordered by each individual metric (for example demographics, culture, etc.) rather than only by total. Sometimes I am not interested in overall similarity, but care more about cultural or infrastructure similarity only.

    Like

  4. Hello. The map is very interesting and as a total geography and culture nerd I enjoyed every bit of your country specifc comparisons and the classifications on here.
    There is just one thing though.
    I don’t really get why Georgia and Armenia get classified into 1C together with the East Slavic nations when Georgia does not even have any of them in its top 5 most similar. I just think it would be more appropriate to have Armenia and Georgia as a separate 1D subregion within the west especially when Cape Verde which has 65 point similarity with Brazil is its own category and Georgia and Armenia have approximately the same similarity with the Slavic countries.

    Best regards, Mike

    Like

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