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 Bhutan
There are very few countries with a high degree of similarity to Bhutan. It is one of the most unique countries in the world. Only Nepal has a significant degree of similarity to it. This is because Bhutan’s culture and geography are extremely different from most other countries. Furthermore, it has a unique mix of South Asian and East Asian characteristics. While Bhutan is quite similar to Tibet, it is not like the rest of China, especially in regards to its government and infrastructure.
- Nepal is by far the most similar country to Bhutan. It is another landlocked country in the Himalayas that has little development. Due to their proximity to the mountains, both countries use mostly hydropower to create electricity. Nepal and Bhutan are highly influenced by their larger neighbor India. In fact, the Indian rupee is legal tender in both countries. However, they have some big differences as well. While the ancestries of most Bhutanese originate in East Asia, the ancestries of Nepalese are far closer to Indian ancestries. Furthermore, Nepal is mostly Hindu, although it does have a small percentage of Buddhists as well.
- Myanmar used to be part of British India, before it gained its independence. Like Bhutan, most of its people have East Asian ancestry and are Buddhists, however they follow a different school of Buddhism. In addition, Myanmar has the most linguistic similarity to Bhutan, since its language is distantly related and both countries use Indic writing systems, although Myanmar’s looks quite different. In addition, Myanmar is fairly mountainous, although it is not located in the Himalayas.
- Laos is another mountainous, landlocked, and heavily forested country in Southeast Asia. Both countries are mostly Buddhist and have East Asian ancestry as well. However, its one-party communist government is significantly different from Bhutan’s constitutional monarchy. In addition, Laos was colonized by France, while Bhutan was more influenced by the British. One big difference is its infrastructure. Laos drives on the right, uses a different railroad gauge, different electrical outlets, and a different TV broadcasting standard.
- India, like Bhutan, has some of the highest rates of vegetarianism in the world. Since Bhutan has close ties to India, there is freedom of movement between the countries. Both drive on the left and use Type D electrical outlets. They also have democratic, parliamentary-style governments. However, like Nepal, the ancestry and religion of its people differ from Bhutan. It is also much more densely populated.
- Malaysia is another heavily forested and mountainous Asian country. Although English is not an official language in either country, it is widely used to communicate among different ethnic groups in both. Both countries are constitutional monarchies. The biggest difference is religion. Malaysia is predominately Muslim, although about 20% of the country is Buddhist. In addition, Malaysia’s standard of living is significantly higher. Furthermore, its climate is much warmer than Bhutan’s.
- Indonesia, 7. Cambodia, 8. Bangladesh, 9. Mongolia, 10. Sri Lanka
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Bhutan
The least similar countries to Bhutan are all more developed and their standard of living is higher. Furthermore, these countries have a higher population density and less forested land. They are all predominately Christian countries. The top four all natively speak Germanic languages and use the Latin script. Moreover, these countries are also less mountainous and have more coastline than Bhutan.
- United States has especially different infrastructure and demographics from Bhutan. The United States drives on the right and uses Type A, B electrical outlets with a different voltage and frequency than in Bhutan. In addition, while the United States has one of the strongest militaries in the world, Bhutan has an extremely small army and no navy or air force. While the United States has one of the most meat heavy diets in the world, the government of Bhutan does not allow killing animals to eat them. Although both countries are democratic, the United States does not have a parliamentary style system of government.
- Netherlands is an extremely flat, low-lying, and densely populated country, in stark contrast to Bhutan. Moreover, it is far less religious and its laws are far more liberal than in Bhutan. Unlike Bhutan, prostitution and gambling are legal in the Netherlands. However, both countries are constitutional monarchies with parliamentary governments. Its people are also much taller on average than Bhutanese.
- Denmark is another extremely flat and low-lying country, like the Netherlands, that is highly developed. In addition, Denmark has a lot of coastline, in contrast to Bhutan. Moreover, Denmark’s land is mostly farmland and it has a low percentage of forested land. While Denmark has one of the most heavily used train networks in the world. Bhutan does not even have a railroad in the country, although there are plans in the works.
- Germany is similar to both the Netherlands and Denmark, although Germany does not have a lot of coastline and is not as flat compared to them. However, unlike Denmark and the Netherlands, it does not have a constitutional monarch like Bhutan. The average personality of Germans is also completely different from Bhutanese, according to the Lewis Model. It is one of the most successful countries in soccer, while people in Bhutan are far more interested in cricket.
- Cuba‘s geography is essentially the opposite of Bhutan, since it is a tropical island that is quite flat and has little forested area, since it is mostly used for agriculture. Cuba’s government is also less democratic than Bhutan’s. While Cuba has been quite successful in the Olympics despite its relatively small population, no Bhutanese person has even placed in the top ten of any Olympic event. Cubans are also far more outgoing than Bhutanese, according to the Lewis Model.
- Australia, 7. Finland, 8. Belgium, 9. Luxembourg, 10. Israel
Bhutan is like if Nepal was more like Taiwan
Although Nepal is the only country with a significant amount of similarity to Bhutan, one country that is much more similar to Bhutan than Nepal is Taiwan. Most of the people in both countries have East Asian ancestry, unlike Nepal. Furthermore, Buddhism is more commonly practiced there. Their people both natively speak Sino-Tibetan languages. Both countries also have far more males than females, in contrast to Nepal.
All data accurate as of 2020.