Brazil’s Most Similar Countries

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.

Similar to other Latin American countries

Latin American countries have a high degree of similarity with Brazil. Their people are racially diverse and natively speak Romance languages. They also tend to be religious and most people are Catholic. Furthermore, these countries are neither especially poor, nor especially rich. Their governments also have similar liberal laws except in regards to abortion. The top five most similar countries to Brazil are all located in South America.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to Brazil

  1. Colombia is the most similar country to Brazil, despite speaking Spanish instead of Portuguese. Both countries share similar demographics and level of development. In addition, both have significant portions of their territory covered by rainforest. However, Colombia is much more mountainous than Brazil. Another difference is that Colombia uses a different railroad track gauge, electrical outlet, and TV broadcasting standard.
  2. Venezuela‘s quite geography is very similar to Brazil and Colombia, since it is also mostly rainforest. It also borders the Atlantic Ocean and is less mountainous than Colombia. The one big difference is that Venezuela’s government is less democratic and more unstable, due to the recent presidential crisis. Still, their laws are extremely similar, except that Venezuela does not allow same sex marriage. Both countries like to play soccer, but Venezuelans are also interested in baseball.
  3. Uruguay is just to the south of Brazil, so the climate of Southern Brazil closely resembles Uruguay. As a result, the major crop in both countries is soybean. Furthermore, it is another relatively flat country that borders the Atlantic Ocean. Although most Uruguayans are Catholic, they are les religious than Brazilians. Furthermore, Uruguay is less racially diverse, since its population has mostly European ancestry.
  4. Paraguay is to the southwest of Brazil, therefore its climate and landscape is especially similar to southern Brazil. Their agriculture is also very similar. Both countries grow a lot of corn and soybean. The countries both get most of their electricity from hydropower. In fact they even share a large dam on Paraná River at their border. However, unlike other countries on this list it is landlocked. Another difference is that Paraguayans have more native South American ancestry and many of their people still speak the indigenous language, Guarani.
  5. Argentina is even further to the south than Uruguay or Argentina, so its climate is cooler and also drier than Brazil. Still, they both have a lot of tropical savanna land used as pastures for livestock. As a result, their diets tend to include a lot of meat, especially beef and chicken. Both countries are soccer powerhouses, but also have significant interest in basketball and sailing. Like Uruguay, it is also less racially diverse than Brazil.
  6. Ecuador, 7. Peru, 8. Dominican Republic, 9. Panama, 10. El Salvador

Four of the five least similar countries to Brazil have large Muslim populations. These countries are not as wealthy as Brazil and their infrastructure is not as well developed. Furthermore, these countries are less democratic and have far more conservative laws. Their climates are also drier than Brazil’s and their landscapes have little forested land. Japan is only country of the five least similar countries that does not have these characteristics.

Top 10 Places Least Similar to Brazil

  1. Yemen is by far the least similar country to Brazil. It is located in the Arabian Desert and borders the Indian Ocean. It is a conservative Muslim country with little cultural or geographic similarity to Brazil. The country is much drier and its landscape is much more mountainous, although both countries typically have high temperatures. Due to on-going civil war, the country’s infrastructure is not well developed. While Brazil uses mostly hydropower to create electricity, Yemen relies on fossil fuels.
  2. Somalia is located across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. Its desert landscape contrasts Brazil’s lush tropical rainforests. Its laws are also extremely conservative, compared to more liberal Brazil. The government prohibits both same sex relationships and also alcohol. In addition, Somalia’s demographics are also dissimilar. Like Yemen, the country’s government has a great deal of instability. Still, unlike other countries on this list it typically uses the Latin alphabet, like Brazil.
  3. Eritrea is located in Africa, across the Red Sea from Yemen. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, however its Christians are of the unique Oriental Orthodox religion. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. Eritreans also natively speak Afroasiatic languages and use the Ge’ez script. In contrast to Brazil, most of its people are work in agriculture, so the country is far less wealthy.
  4. Japan is the least similar country to Brazil in East Asia. Not only are Japan’s religious practices completely different from Brazil’s, but Japanese are also far less religious. The languages and writing systems of these countries are also completely unrelated. Furthermore, Japan’s infrastructure is far more developed than Brazil’s. However, both countries are multi-party democracies, although there is less rule of law in Brazil.
  5. Afghanistan is an extremely mountainous and landlocked Asian country with a dry climate. Its infrastructure and government also differ significantly from Brazil. Like the other Muslim countries on this list, its laws are far more conservative than Brazil’s. Afghans are also more interested in cricket than soccer. Still, the native languages of both countries are distantly related, since Pashto and Dari are both part of the Indo-European language family.
  6. Sudan, 7. North Korea, 8. Qatar, 9. Niger, 10. Bhutan

Brazil is like if Colombia was more like Portugal

Although Colombia is the most similar country to Brazil, there is one major way in which they are different. Colombia speaks Spanish while Brazil speaks Portuguese. This is the main reason the data indicates that Portugal is much more similar to Brazil than Colombia. There are also some other reasons. Brazil and Portugal use Type C electrical outlets, unlike Colombia. Brazilians also have more European ancestry than Colombians.

Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Brazil

Country Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Dominican Republic
Most Similar Culture: Portugal
Most Similar Government: Argentina
Most Similar Infrastructure: Colombia
Most Similar Geography: Venezuela

Least Similar Demographics: Niger
Least Similar Culture: Japan
Least Similar Government: Somalia
Least Similar Infrastructure: Niger
Least Similar Geography: Bahrain

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

23 Comments

  1. I don’t know how much I can agree with the chosen top 5 most similar countries. Specially when it comes to the demographics. If you look at the genetic data, Brazil is the third most European country in Latin America, at about 65%, not that far from Argentina (around 70%). Uruguay is first. Of course, the main difference here would be the fact that the remainder is way more African in Brazil, rather than Amerindian. If we look at demographics alone, Cuba should be the most similar country. For this reason, having a place like Peru at the top 5 is unfathomable, given that, alongside Bolivia, it is basically as Amerindian as modern countries can be, both culturally and genetically, while Brazil’s genetic heritage is only about 10-15% Amerindian.

    Also, the role of the Mercosur bloc seems to have been taken lightly.

    Personally, I would say that this similarity ranking would look good if we took only the northern half of the country into account. It feels weird for the rest of the country, and extremely alien for the south region in particular, and perhaps even for the state of Sao Paulo.

    Important hint: Please keep in mind that self identification and racial census in Latin America are often misleading, since most of the population actually have no clue of their own racial/continental ancestry in a genetic way. Just look at Chile for example, where most identify as White, but as a whole, their country is less European than Brazil.

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    1. Thanks, Latin America is especially hard, since there is a lot of people with mixed race, so it depends on how you count it. Because countries like Peru are mostly people with mixed European and Amerindian ancestry, in they are actually being counted as 50-50. I suppose your point of view comes from the one-drop rule, which would suggest less similarity and I don’t necessarily disagree. However, Brazil’s racial makeup is unlike either Argentina or Peru, due to a much higher degree of African ancestry. Also remember, the demographics section is not simply about race but also about age, education level, affluence, etc.

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      1. Fair enough.

        I don’t mean to come down too hard on your analysis. I meant it mostly as constructive criticism, that might come in handy when you work on your next Latin American country.

        Also, I suppose it would be impossible to please everyone’s point of view when discussing a country like Brazil, which has a lot of regional variety when it comes to every aspect that you use as a criterion.

        On that train of thought, it would actually be interesting to see, if you are willing to do it someday, which results your methodology would yield if you were to look at the 3 Brazilian socio-geographic divisions as if they were different countries. They differ from each other in most aspects, that is, not only on the demographic issues that we touched upon, but also to a great extent when it comes to development, economic situation, geography, climate, cultural aspects, among others. There might even be a bigger contrast among these internal regions than there is with some other countries.

        Just a thought, please don’t take it as if I am forcing/asking you to do anything.
        …It would be an interesting experiment though.

        Informative links:
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_socio-geographic_division

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centro-Sul
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordeste_(socio-geographic_division)
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaz%C3%B4nia_Legal

        Regards.

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  2. Is really hard to do a country that big, here in the south i would say the south cone is more similar then colombia, but in the north i think people would go for the other way.
    Anyway, Sao Paulo have the biggest japanese and italian diaspora in the world, funny that Japan is so different.
    The only thing i really disagree is the Peru, because the amerindian influence there is so big.

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