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.
Botswana is a country in Southern Africa. The top five countries most similar to Botswana all have English as one of their official languages and the majority of their people are Protestant. Furthermore, most of the people in these countries natively speak Niger-Congo languages. They also have similar infrastructure, since they all drive on the left and use 3′-6″ gauge railroad tracks. Four of the five were once colonies of Great Britain. In addition, most of these countries have a relatively dry climate.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Botswana
- Namibia and Botswana are the two main countries where the Kalahari Desert is located. Their relatively strong economies are also highly dependent on mining and tourism. This has raised the standard of living in these countries higher than most other Sub-Saharan African countries. One difference is language. Although both countries have English as their official language, many people in Namibia prefer to speak Afrikaans. In addition, many of its native people speak unique Khoisan languages that are completely different from Setswana.
- South Africa planned to incorporate Botswana into South Africa, until Tswana leaders resisted the arrangement. Like Botswana, it is one of the wealthiest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its government’s structure also mirrors Botswana since it has a president democratically elected by the country’s parliament. They also have similar judicial systems. In addition, the majority of electricity in both countries is created by coal power plants.
- Zimbabwe is another landlocked country to the east of Botswana. It is quite different politically from Botswana, since its government is much more unstable. In addition, it is also poorer and has less developed infrastructure. Still, there are many similarities. Although neither country has a lot of agricultural land since they have dry climates, the predominant crop in both countries is corn. They also use Type D and G electrical outlets as well. Furthermore, their people have a similar level of education.
- Zambia is yet another former British protectorate on this list. It also gained its independence in the 1960s. Both countries ban the possession of pornography, but allow prostitution, so long as it is not organized. Zambia and Botswana are also two of the best locations for safaris. However, Zambia is poorer and its infrastructure is less developed. Furthermore, although both countries have few agricultural lands, Zambia receives significantly more rainfall.
- Lesotho is another landlocked country that borders South Africa. The native languages of Lesotho and Botswana, Sesotho and Setswana, are closely related, and English is an official language of both countries. One big difference is that Lesotho has a more temperate climate, due to its high average elevation. It is also more mountainous and gets more rainfall. Another difference is that Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy.
- Eswatini, 7. Kenya, 8. Ghana, 9. Malawi, 10. Tanzania
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Botswana
The four least similar countries to Botswana are located in East Asia. These countries have more temperate climates than Botswana and have more forested land. They are also more mountainous and have more coastline. Their people are generally less religious than the people in Botswana and, with the exception of South Korea, they do not have many Christians. Furthermore, these countries do not use the Latin alphabet.
- Japan is an extremely mountainous and densely populated island, in contrast to landlocked Botswana. Not only is its geography significantly different, but also its demographics and culture. However, they do share some similar infrastructure, since both countries drive on the left and use 3’6″ gauge railroad tracks. Still, Botswana has a different electrical outlets that use a higher voltage than Japan.
- Taiwan is yet another East Asian country on this list. Its infrastructure is much more developed. In addition, its laws are significantly different from Botswana, since it allows gay marriage, but not gambling. It also has stricter gun control regulations. The countries also have extremely dissimilar demographics and culture. According to the Lewis Model, Taiwanese are far less outgoing than people in Botswana. Although both countries have a hot climate, Taiwan gets far more rainfall.
- South Korea is another mountainous and densely populated Asian country like Japan and Taiwan. Its infrastructure is extremely dissimilar from Botswana, since it drives on the right, uses standard gauge railroad tracks, and Type C, F electrical outlets. Furthermore, most males in Botswana are not circumcised, unlike South Korea. One thing that they do have in common is that South Korea also has a significant Christian population.
- North Korea has similar culture and demographics to South Korea. However, it has a much lower standard of living and its government is far less democratic than the other countries on this list. While Botswana does not have much of a military, North Korea has the highest percentage of people in the military in the world. One similarity is that a significant portion of the farmland in both countries is used to grow corn, despite their drastically different climates.
- Saudi Arabia is yet another country in Asia on this list, although it is located in the Middle East. The country has a higher standard of living than Botswana. Their people are mostly Muslim and natively speak Arabic. It is a monarchy with much more conservative laws than Botswana’s. However, the climate in both countries is hot and dry, but Saudi Arabia’s climate is even drier so its land is barren, while Botswana’s land is mostly small shrubs.
- Qatar, 7. China, 8. Bahrain, 9. Kuwait, 10. United Arab Emirates
Botswana is like if Namibia was more like Zimbabwe
The data shows that Namibia is the most similar country to Botswana, but one country with much more in common with Botswana than Namibia is Zimbabwe. It makes sense that Botswana is like a mix of these two countries, since it is located in between them. Botswana has a wetter climate than Namibia, but a drier climate than Zimbabwe. Although Namibia’s official language is English, it was never a British colony like Botswana and Zimbabwe, since it was controlled by Germany, before being ruled by South Africa after World War I.
All data accurate as of 2020.