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 Canada
Canada is a former British colony located in North America. It is similar to two general groups of countries: predominately white English-speaking countries and Scandinavia. Most people in the five most similar countries natively speak Germanic languages and are Protestant Christians, although they are not especially religious. These countries tend to be especially wealthy and their infrastructure is highly developed.
- United States is by far the most similar country to Canada. This is in part because they were both originally British colonies in North America. However Canada retained more characteristics of Britain than the United States since it became independent much later. Still, the United States has had a great influence on Canada due to its close proximity, especially in regards to infrastructure and culture. Both countries drive on the right, use Type A, B electrical outlets, and have the same TV broadcasting standard. They also have a mix of Catholics and Protestants, although Americans tend to be more religious.
- Australia is another former British colony characterized by a large European immigrant population. Its government and demographics are quite similar to Canada’s. Both countries still have the British monarch as their head of state. They also use the parliamentary system of government and have bicameral legislatures. However, Australia is on the opposite side of the earth and its climate is far warmer so its geography is significantly different. Still, they are both sparsely populated countries that have a lot of coastline.
- New Zealand is the third former British colony on this list. A majority of the people in both countries have European ancestry, however they also have a significant percentage of East Asians as well. Both countries are constitutional monarchies, although New Zealand has a unicameral legislature, unlike Canada. Another difference is that New Zealand’s climate is warmer and wetter, although it also has some colder regions in its mountainous areas.
- Sweden‘s geography is one of the most similar to Canada, despite being located in Europe. Both sparsely populated countries are heavily forested with coniferous trees and have many lakes. In addition, both countries enjoy ice hockey and winter sports. Although it is not their native language, most people can speak English in Sweden as well. Furthermore, their governments have similar laws. They both criminalize buying prostiution, but not selling it. They also allow gambling and have few restrictions on abortion.
- Norway is yet another Scandinavian country that is similar to Canada. Both countries border the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They are also sparsely populated and have cold climates, although Norway is more mountainous. Norway’s government is also similar to Canada’s. Both countries have single payer healthcare systems and generous retirement benefits for their citizens. In addition, both countries are primarily powered by hydroelectricity.
- United Kingdom, 7. Switzerland, 8. Ireland, 9. France, 10. Germany
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Canada
All of the countries least similar to Canada have extremely hot desert climates. With the exception of Eritrea, they are all Muslim majority countries as well. They do not have well developed infrastructure and have far more conservative laws. Four of the five least similar countries are located in Africa. Their governments are much less democratic than Canada and have little rule of law.
- Eritrea‘s government is a conservative, totalitarian one-party dictatorship. It has a hot dry climate and a barren desert landscape, in contrast to heavily forested Canada. Furthermore, most of its land is located near the coast. The country also lacks well developed infrastructure. Still, a majority of its population is Christian, however the unique Oriental Orthodox denomination is the most common. They also tend to be more religious.
- Somalia is an anarchic and deeply conservative Muslim country with poorly developed infrastructure, due to on-going civil war. In addition, Somalia’s demographics are also quite dissimilar from Canada, since the average age of its people is much younger. Like Yemen, the country’s government has a great deal of instability. Still, the Somalian language typically uses the Latin alphabet, like English and French.
- Sudan is another undeveloped Muslim country in the Sahara Desert, which recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan, due to civil war. Its undemocratic government and conservative laws make the country quite unlike Canada. Although Sudan has English as one of its official languages, it is not widely spoken in this Arabic-speaking country.
- Niger, located in the Sahara Desert, so it is one of the hottest countries in the world. It also has the lowest average age in the world. Its extremely low level of development makes its infrastructure the least similar to Canada. Still, there is some language similarity. Both countries have French as an official language, although English is more common in Canada, and they both use the Latin alphabet. Furthermore, both countries are sparsely populated.
- Yemen is the only country on this list that is not in Africa. It is located at the southern most point of the Arabian Peninsula, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It is another conservative Muslim, Arabic-speaking country. The country has an anarchic government, due to civil war. Yemen’s climate is also much drier and hotter than Canada. However, its people have more Caucasian ancestry than other countries on this list.
- Mauritania, 7. Chad, 8. Laos, 9. Bangladesh, 10. Mali
Canada is like if the United States was more like Sweden
The United States easily the most similar country to Canada, but it also has a lot in common with Scandinavia. The data shows that Sweden has by far more characteristics of Canada than the United States. Sweden and Canada have a colder climate than the United States. Both countries are heavily forested with coniferous trees and have many lakes. As a result, both countries enjoy ice hockey and winter sports. Moreover, Canada’s government has laws and entitlements similar to those implemented in Scandinavia. Neither country allows the death penalty, unlike the United States.
All data accurate as of 2020.