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.
Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are like Benin. The top five countries most similar to Benin all were colonized by France and use French as their lingua franca. Because of this they also all use Type C, E electrical outlets, one meter railroad track gauge, and drive on the right side of the road. A large portion of the land in all these countries is tropical savanna. Four of the top five most similar border the Atlantic Ocean. With the exception of Guinea, these countries share the same currency, the West African CFA Franc.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Benin
- Togo is by far the most similar country to Benin. It is another country bordering the Gulf of Guinea, located on its western border. Although Togo started out as a German colony, a majority of the land was taken over by France after World War I. Both countries have a diverse mix of Muslims, Christians, and followers of Voodoo. One of the bigger differences between them is their governments. Togo is less democratic and its legislature is dominated by a single party.
- Burkina Faso borders Benin to its north. The countries both have a diverse mix of religions practiced there. Both countries are democracies with similar laws, although Burkina Faso uses the semi-presidential system of government. However, their diets are quite different, since people in Burkina Faso eat more millet and sorghum products and less yams and cassava. It is also landlocked and has drier climate than Benin.
- Ivory Coast also has a mix of Christians and Muslims, although less people believe in Voodoo there. Furthermore, the countries have nearly identical climate, although Ivory Coast’s agricultural areas tend to be less focused on producing cotton and more focused on producing cocoa. Still, the diet of both countries is based primarily on cassava and yams. Another difference is their laws. Abortion is practically banned, the sale of pornography is illegal, and alcohol is more restricted in Ivory Coast.
- Senegal is further to the north than other countries on the list, so it has a drier climate and a higher percentage of Muslims. Both countries rely on oil to create electricity. Their governments have a similar form. Both use the presidential system and have unicameral legislatures. They also have similar legal system. However, Senegal’s laws are slightly different, in part since the country is mostly Muslim and has few Christians or people who practice Voodoo. It allows polygamy, but does not allow prostitution or abortion (except to save the mother’s life), unlike Benin.
- Guinea also borders the Atlantic Ocean, but does not border Benin. The countries have a similar standard of living and development of infrastructure. One big difference is that unlike other countries on this list it does not use the West African Franc, despite being in ECOWAS. Furthermore, the diet and agriculture in Guinea involves more rice, since its climate has more rainfall. Still, like Senegal, their governments in both countries use the presidential system, but also have unicameral legislatures.
- Cameroon, 7. Central African Republic, 8. Republic of Congo, 9. Guinea-Bissau, 10. Ghana
The five least similar countries to Benin have a much higher standard of living and their infrastructure is much more developed. Three of the five least similar countries are located on islands in the Pacific Ocean. In addition, in three of the five least similar countries, the majority of the people natively speak Germanic languages. Furthermore, the average temperature is much lower four of the five countries.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Benin
- Japan is by far the least similar country to Benin. It is a mountainous and heavily populated archipelago with many skyscrapers. Its climate is colder and it gets far more rainfall. Their demographics, culture, and infrastructure are also far different. There just is not much in common between the two, except that they are both democracies, although there is less rule of law in Benin.
- Taiwan is yet another East Asian country on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Due to its more southern location, its tropical climate does makes help to make it lower on the list than Japan. Another similarity is that both countries drive on the right side of the road, like Benin. Other than those characteristics, there is very little that Benin and Taiwan have in common, especially in demographics and culture.
- Iceland is the least similar country in Europe to Benin, despite both countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It is far more mountainous and its landscape is sparsely vegetated, due in part to its cold climate. It is also much less densely populated. While both countries have a significant amount of Christians, the country is also far less religious than Benin. While Iceland uses mostly hydropower to create electricity, Benin is reliant on oil.
- Norway is another country similar to Iceland. It is also mountainous, has a lot of coastline, and also a cold climate. Norway has a much lower marriage rate than Benin. It is also one of the wealthiest countries in the world and has a much higher standard of living than Benin. Their diets are far different, since Norwegians eat more meat and less vegetables. Another difference is that Norway’s marriage rate is far lower. Still, the most popular sport in both countries is soccer.
- New Zealand, unlike other Pacific Ocean island countries on this list, is located in the South Pacific, not East Asia. Its infrastructure standards are also far different from Benin, since they drive on the left side of the road, use Type I electrical outlets, and 3′ 6″ railroad tracks. Its culture is especially different from Benin since cricket and rugby are more popular sports than soccer there. They also have a higher rate of alcohol and drug use.
- Great Britain, 7. South Korea, 8. Singapore, 9. Canada, 10. Bahrain
Benin is like if Togo was more like Burkina Faso
While Benin and Togo are two of the most similar countries in the world, there is one country in particular that is more like Benin than Togo: Burkina Faso. Both Burkina Faso and Benin have far less followers of Voodoo than Togo, while they have more Christians and Muslims. Their governments are also more democratic than Togo’s dictatorship. Furthermore, their laws are nearly identical, in contrast to Togo.
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