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.
Top 10 Countries Most Similar to Australia
Australia is a former British colony, located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Unlike most countries, many of the most similar countries to Australia are located far away from it, since it has been colonized primarily by European immigrants. The top five countries most similar to the Australia have all been part of the United Kingdom at one time or another so they share similar traits. They are all predominately white, English-speaking countries. Most people in these countries are Christian. Furthermore, these countries have well developed infrastructure.
- New Zealand is by far the most similar country to Australia. It was even asked to become one of Australia’s states when it formed. New Zealand citizens have the right to live and work in Australia. Both are former British colonies with similar politics and culture. However, while they are located around the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s climate is much wetter and has more moderate temperatures. Furthermore it is more mountainous.
- United Kingdom originally founded Australia, so it is no wonder that they are high on this list as well. More Australians trace their ancestry back to Britain than any other country. However its geography is significantly different from the United Kingdom. Its population is much denser and its climate is much more temperate. Another difference is that Australians are more interested in cricket than soccer.
- Canada is another former British colony similar to Australia, so they also share similar politics and culture. Their geography is both similar and different. On one hand both countries have large swathes of land that are uninhabited with relatively little agricultural land. In addition, both are highly urbanized. However, Canada is on the opposite side of the Earth and much colder. Both countries excel in the Olympics. However, Canadians are more interested in winter sports, like ice hockey and speed skating. In addition, over 20% of Canadians speak French.
- Ireland also has similar culture and demographics to Australia in part because of its similarity to Britain, but also because over 10% of the Australian population claims to have Irish ancestry. Both countries are not heavily forested and are located on islands. However, unlike other English speaking countries on this list, Ireland is mostly Catholic. Its agriculture is different as well since it grows more barley than wheat.
- United States is yet another former British colony characterized by a large European immigrant population. However, unlike Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, it is now longer part of the Britain Commonwealth and became independent much earlier, so its government tends to be is less similar to Australia than the other countries on this list. Still, it has a variety of different climates, like Australia, although it has a lower percentage of desert land.
- Norway, 7. Sweden, 8. Germany, 9. Netherlands, 10. Denmark
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Australia
On the other end of the spectrum, three of the least similar countries are located in Asia. Not only is their landscape vastly different, but also their culture and demographics. Furthermore, their governments are also less democratic and since they are essentially dominated by one communist party. The other two countries are located in Africa. All these countries are far less developed than Australia.
- Laos is is a landlocked, mountainous, and heavily forested Southeast Asian country, in contrast to Australia. In addition, Laos and Australia have very different demographics and culture. It is also one of the poorest Asian countries and most of its people are farmers. Laos is also not very democratic, since its government is controlled by the Communist Party. Its laws are also more conservative. It does not allow same sex marriage or prostitution and it heavily restricts abortion.
- Cambodia is located just to the south of Laos, but it is less heavily forested and less mountainous than Laos. It has a tropical climate and gets far more rainfall than Australia. Like Laos, most people in Cambodia are Buddhist. Furthermore, they use the unique Khmer script for their writing. Although Cambodia is far less democratic than Australia, both countries are constitutional monarchies that use the parliamentary system of government.
- North Korea has obvious political differences from Australia. Its infrastructure is not nearly as well developed as well. Their languages and writing systems are completely different from each other. Furthermore, North Korea’s temperate climate is much colder than Australia’s. However, both countries have many atheists. Another interesting similarity is that both countries have made voting mandatory.
- Guinea-Bissau is a tropical country in Africa that was once colonized by Portugal. Despite this, a vast majority of its people are Muslim. The country’s government has experienced many military coups and the country’s infrastructure is not well developed. Still, both countries use the Latin script. Their agriculture is also far different. Guinea-Bissau’s most important crops are rice and cashews.
- Eritrea is a totalitarian one-party dictatorship and has poorly developed infrastructure. However its climate is dry, like most of Australia. Although its population is about 50% Christian, they are part of the Oriental Orthodox denomination and are also much more religious than Australians. Linguistically, Eritrea has no similarity as well since they speak Afroasiatic languages and use the Ge’ez script.
- Niger, 7. Yemen, 8. Chad, 9. Mauritania, 10. Mali
Australia is like if New Zealand was more like South Africa
While New Zealand is by far Australia’s most similar country, climate is one aspect where they greatly differ. Therefore, the data shows that one country with more similarity to Australia than New Zealand is South Africa, although it has little overall similarity to Australia. South Africa’s climate is quite hot and dry, like Australia’s. Both countries have large empty areas of desert and border the Indian Ocean. In addition to geography, according to the Lewis Model, Australians and South Africans are generally more outgoing than New Zealanders. While New Zealand is powered by renewable energy sources, Australia and South Africa rely on coal to create electricity.
All data accurate as of 2020.