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 Belarus
Belarus is in the North Eurasia region. Four of the top five countries most similar to Belarus were once part of the USSR. As a result, these countries have similar traits, such as using the same railroad gauge, the same electrical outlets, and having more females than males. They also have similar secular public holidays. In addition, four of the five most similar countries are mostly Orthodox Christian, although they have a high percentage of atheists.
- Ukraine is another Slavic country to the south of Belarus. They are both mostly Orthodox Christian, but they are not especially religious countries. However, while Belarus has maintained close ties to Russia, Ukraine has a more strained relationship. Both countries still have many Russian speakers. In addition, their geography is fairly similar. Both are quite flat, although Ukraine’s climate is not as cold and it borders the Black Sea. Although their technology is very similar, Ukraine relies on coal and nuclear power to create electricity, not natural gas, like Belarus.
- Russia retains closer ties to Belarus than any other former USSR country. Belarus also has the highest percentage of Russian speakers outside of Russia. Citizens of both countries can move freely between them and also work. There are even two Russian army bases located in Belarus. Both countries also have authoritarian leaders. The biggest difference is their geography. Belarus is much more densely populated and landlocked in contrast to Russia.
- Serbia is another Slavic speaking country where most people are Orthodox Christian. Both countries are landlocked and are not especially mountainous. However, Serbia is the only country in the top five that was not once part of the Soviet Union. It does not use the Russian railroad gauge. Furthermore, it primarily uses coal to create electricity, not natural gas. Still, Serbia’s laws are quite similar to Belarus. Both countries do not allow same sex marriage or prostitution, but do allow abortion and gambling.
- Lithuania ruled the area that is now Belarus for a long period in history, until it was partitioned by the Russian Empire. Their geography and climate are extremely similar, although Lithuania borders the Baltic Sea. The countries have nearly the same percentages of agricultural and forest land. However, the countries have some significant differences. Lithuanians are mostly Catholic and more religious. They also prefer basketball to soccer or ice hockey.
- Moldova is another landlocked country that was once part of the USSR. Both countries are mostly agricultural land and have fairly flat terrain. While Moldovans are mostly Orthodox Christians, their language is significantly different from Belarusian. Although it is an Indo-European language it is from the Romantic branch, not the Slavic branch. Furthermore, they use the Latin alphabet, not the Cyrillic one.
- Latvia, 7. Bulgaria, 8. Slovakia, 9. Poland, 10. Czechia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Belarus
The two least similar countries to Belarus are located in Melanesia, but it also has little similarity to several countries with a Muslim majority population. All the countries least similar to Belarus have a low percentage of farmland and either have more forest land or more barren land. They also have higher birth rates and a lower average age. Furthermore, the five least similar countries primarily use the Latin alphabet.
- Papua New Guinea is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world. A low percentage of the country is farmland since it is mostly tropical forests. Its people also have little in common demographically or culturally with Belarus. Although its people are also Christians, they are generally Protestants, while Ukraine has a higher rate of irreligious people. Its infrastructure is also far different since it uses Type I electrical outlets and drives on the left side of the road.
- Solomon Islands is similar to Papua New Guinea. It is also located in the Pacific Ocean. The islands need to import all their energy in the form of oil, while Belarus uses mostly natural gas. In addition, it is far more mountainous than Belarus and most of the land is near the coastline. Moreover, its government is much more democratic than Belarus’. While both countries prohibit same sex marriage and prostitution, abortion is also banned in the Solomon Islands.
- Somalia is the least similar country to Belarus in Africa. It is a conservative Muslim nation with poorly developed infrastructure and an anarchic government. Its laws tend to be more conservative than Belarus. In contrast to cold, landlocked Belarus, Somalia is located in a tropical desert on the Indian Ocean coast. However, it is at least in the same time zone as Belarus. Neither country is very mountainous.
- Niger is another African country with little similarity to Belarus. Although both countries are landlocked, they have little else in common. Its landscape is mostly barren desert and its climate is much hotter and drier. The country was once a French colony. It is mostly Muslim and has the youngest average population in the world. In contrast to Belarus, Niger has more males than females.
- Sierra Leone is yet another African country with a predominately Muslim population on this list. Its climate is also much hotter and wetter than Belarus. Their diet is vastly different from Belarus, since they eat far more cassava and rice. Furthermore, Sierra Leone’s infrastructure is not well developed. While most of their electricity comes from hydropower, Belarus is reliant on natural gas.
- Gambia, 7. Djibouti, 8. Yemen, 9. Malawi, 10. Guinea-Bissau
Belarus is like if Ukraine was more like Russia
While Ukraine is the most similar country to Belarus, one country that is much more similar to Belarus than Ukraine is Russia. Unlike Ukraine, Belarus still has close political ties with Russia. Furthermore, Ukraine is more democratic than Russia or Belarus. The climate of Belarus is also colder than Ukraine and thus closer to Russia’s climate. While Russians and Belarusians love ice hockey, Ukrainians are more interested in other sports.
All data accurate as of 2020.