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 Belize
Belize is unique in that it has traits of both Latin American countries and former British colonies in the Caribbean region. 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. The ancestries of its people are also diverse. It has significant population of people with Native American, European, and African decent.
- 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 located near the Caribbean Sea. 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 Belizeans have a wider variety of ancestries. In addition, the Bahamas is significantly wealthier.
- Panama is a Spanish-speaking country in Central America. Belize’s infrastructure 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 airplane flights per capita. Their laws are also similar. Both do not allow same sex marriage or polygamy. They also do not have restrictive gun control laws. However, Panama is wealthier than Belize. Furthermore, Belize has no skyscrapers, while Panama has many.
- Guyana is located in South America, but it has some similar characteristics with Belize. Both countries were once British colonies. They are both located in tropical locations and their land is mostly forested. They are also not very mountainous. However, Guyana is even more ethnically than Belize. It has more people with Indian ancestry, most of which came to the country as indentured laborers. Therefore, it also has more Hindus and Muslims than Belize.
- El Salvador is another country in Central America on this list. However, El Salvador is more mountainous and does not border the Caribbean Sea. While their climates are similar, El Salvador grows more corn than sugarcane. Still, both countries have a mix of Protestants and Catholics. They also use a mix of biomass, hydropower, and oil to create electricity. They also have a similar economic situation.
- Nicaragua, 7. Honduras, 8. Trinidad & Tobago, 9. Guatemala, 10. Dominican Republic
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.
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Belize
The four of the five least similar countries to Belize are located in Asia. In addition, four of the five least similar countries do not have democratic governments. In contrast to Belize, these countries are much more mountainous as well. With the exception of Eritrea, these countries generally have colder climates than Belize. Since, Belize is neither especially rich or poor, the five least similar countries include both developed and impoverished countries.
- China‘s demographics and culture are obviously far different from Belize. Although part of southern China has some rainforests like Belize, the country has a much greater diversity of biomes, including deserts and temperate grasslands. 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. It also gets much less rainfall. In addition, its government is more anarchic and its laws are more conservative. Although both countries natively speak Indo-European languages, Afghanistan uses the Arabic script, not the Latin alphabet.
- 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. However, both use Type A, B electrical outlets. Unlike other countries in Central America, Belize is quite flat, in contrast to Japan. Still, most of the land in both countries is close to the coast.
- Eritrea is the least similar country in Africa to Belize. Its climate is much drier than Belize’s and its landscape is mostly barren land. Its government is an authoritarian dictatorship. It has much stricter gun control laws and gambling is banned there. In contrast to Belize, the majority of its people work in agriculture. While Eritrea is mostly Christian, its people are mostly Oriental Orthodox. Furthermore, the country also has many Muslims, due to its proximity to the Red Sea.
- North Korea is yet another country in East Asia on this list. Belize has little religious, cultural, or demographic similarity to North Korea. Its government is also the least similar 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. Its native language and writing system are completely different from English or Spanish.
- Saudi Arabia, 7. Iran, 8. Yemen, 9. South Korea, 10. Sudan
Belize is like if Jamaica was more like Guatemala
The most similar country to Belize is Jamaica. However, the data indicates one country that is much more similar to Belize than Jamaica is Guatemala. Belize borders Guatemala and has many of the same traits. Since Belize has a mix of Spanish-speaking and English-speaking people, it is a transitional country between the Afro-Caribbean and Latin American regions. Belize is also the only other country where over 5% of its population speaks a Mayan language. Interestingly enough, much of Belize’s territory has been claimed by Guatemala. These countries also have far fewer people with African ancestry than Jamaica.
All data accurate as of 2020.