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 Places Most Similar to Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a European country located on the Balkan Peninsula. Four of the top five countries most similar to Bulgaria speak Slavic languages. The top five countries are mostly Christian. In addition, these countries are all multi-party democracies that use the parliamentary system of government. Furthermore, their climates are temperate and their landscapes are a mix of forests and farmland.
- Serbia is located to the west of Bulgaria. Other than being landlocked, its climate and landscape is quite similar to Bulgaria. It is another predominately Orthodox Christian country, however Bulgarian is not mutual intelligible with Serbo-Croatian, although they are closely related. The countries also have a similar standard of living. One difference is that unorganized prostitution is legal in Bulgaria, unlike Serbia. Still, both countries have similar laws, since they both allow abortion and gambling, but do not allow same sex marriages or polygamy.
- North Macedonia borders both Bulgaria and Serbia. Macedonian is considered by some to be just a dialect of Bulgarian and both languages use the Cyrillic alphabet exclusively. Like Serbia and North Macedonia, it is mostly Orthodox Christian. However, North Macedonia also has more Albanians and more Muslims than Bulgaria. It also has a lower percentage of farmland and tends to grow more barley and grapes, although their diets are extremely similar.
- Romania is another Orthodox Christian nation that borders the Black Sea. It is just to the north of Bulgaria, across the Danube River. There actually have been a few proposals to unify the two countries before. They are among the poorest countries in the European Union. However, linguistically Bulgaria and Romania are far apart since Romania speaks a Romance language and uses the Latin script. In addition, its people are more religious.
- Croatia is another Slavic country in the European Union. Both countries have beach resorts that are frequented by many Europeans, although Croatia is on the Mediterranean, not the Black Sea. Another difference is that Croatia is mostly Catholic and does not use Cyrillic. In addition, while soccer is the favorite sport of both countries, basketball and handball are more popular in Croatia. Still, both countries have aging populations and have significantly more females than males.
- Slovakia‘s government is especially similar to Bulgaria’s. Both countries have unicameral legislatures and their courts follow Civil Law. They are also both members of NATO and the European Union. Their laws are nearly identical. Both countries allow unorganized prostitution and but do not allow polygamy or same sex marriage. Their agriculture is also similar. Both countries grow a mix of wheat, corn, sunflower, and rapeseed. However, Slovakians are more interested in ice hockey than Bulgarians.
- Slovenia, 7. Montenegro, 8. Ukraine, 9. Bosnia & Herzegovina , 10. Czechia
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Top 10 Places Least Similar to Bulgaria
The four least similar countries to Bulgaria are all located in Africa. Although they are relatively in close proximity to Bulgaria, their climates are much hotter and drier. In addition, these countries have a lower standard of living and very different culture, since they have large populations of Muslims. Moreover, their native languages are not part of the Indo-European family and they do not use the Cyrillic script.
- Niger is a completely landlocked country, located in the Sahara Desert, so little of its land is used to grow crops. It is one of the least developed countries in the world. While Bulgaria’s population is quite old, Niger has the youngest average population in the world. Its people are mostly Muslim and the country’s official language is French, although most of its people speak Afro-Asiatic languages.
- Chad is located next to Niger. It is another former colony of France that is landlocked and located in the Sahara Desert. Along with French, Arabic is also an official language there. The country is far less democratic than Bulgaria. It had been ruled by a dictator for several decades. Still, their laws are not completely different. They both allow gambling and alcohol. However, polygamy is allowed as well in Chad.
- Somalia is another impoverished Muslim country on this list. Its government is also more conservative and more anarchic than Bulgaria’s. The country is currently undergoing civil war. Its climate is also much hotter and drier than Bulgaria. A low percentage of its land is used for agriculture. Furthermore, its most common crop is sorghum, not wheat or corn.
- Sudan is yet another country located in the Sahara Desert, on this list. Due to civil war, the country recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Sudan follows conservative Muslim laws that forbid abortion or homosexuality, but allow polygamy. Still, their lineages are not completely different since most Sudanese have a mix of Caucasian and African ancestry. There is also a small percentage of Sudanese that follow Orthodox Christianity.
- Papua New Guinea is the least similar country to Bulgaria outside of Africa. It is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world. The country has a low percentage of agricultural land and is mostly just tropical forest. Furthermore, its infrastructure is quite different. It drives on the left and uses Type I electrical outlets. Still, both countries are primarily Christian, although Papuans are generally Catholic or Protestant and more religious.
- Solomon Islands, 7. Eritrea, 8. Yemen, 9. Gambia, 10. South Sudan
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Bulgaria is like if Serbia was more like Greece
The Index shows that Serbia is the most similar country to Bulgaria. Although no countries are much more similar to Bulgaria than Serbia, Greece is slightly more similar for a few reasons. Both Bulgaria and Greece are part of the European Union and NATO, while Serbia is not. Furthermore, they both have popular beaches, while Serbia is landlocked. Bulgaria is also slightly more prosperous than Serbia, but still less prosperous than Greece.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Bulgaria
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: North Macedonia
Most Similar Culture: North Macedonia
Most Similar Government: Slovakia
Most Similar Infrastructure: Romania
Most Similar Geography: Serbia
Least Similar Demographics: Niger
Least Similar Culture: Bangladesh
Least Similar Government: Sudan
Least Similar Infrastructure: Haiti
Least Similar Geography: Solomon Islands