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 Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a Latin American country. Many countries in the region are similar to it. The five most similar countries are predominately Catholic and their people natively speak Spanish. Furthermore, these countries are mostly rainforest and are mountainous. Four of the top five countries border the Caribbean Sea. These countries also tend to have a mix of people with European, Native American, and African ancestry.
- Panama, like its neighbor Costa Rica, is one of the few countries without a military and both are strong allies of the United States. They are also two of the most prosperous Central American countries. Both countries primarily use hydroelectricity to create power. One big difference is that Panama has many more skyscrapers. Due to the Panama Canal, the country also has far more shipping infrastructure than Costa Rica.
- El Salvador is another country in the Central American Integration System, like Costa Rica and Panama. The countries share similar demographics and culture. However, El Salvador has a lower percentage of people with African ancestry. Another difference is that El Salvador is more densely populated but also has a much greater percentage of land used for farming. Still, both countries produce a lot of coffee.
- Honduras is another mountainous Central American that borders both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The countries have especially similar ancestry, since both have many people of mixed Native American and European heritage, but also have a significant percentage of Africans. They are both part of the Central American Integration System as well. However, Honduras is poorer than Costa Rica and has a far higher homicide rate.
- Colombia‘s agriculture is more similar to Costa Rica than any other country. Both produce a lot of coffee and sugar. Both countries also have a high percentage of forested land. One big difference is that Colombia has one of the largest armies in the Western Hemisphere. However, it is located in South America, although it also borders the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean.
- Dominican Republic is not in Central America, but both countries border the Caribbean Sea. Both countries have a large amount of European ancestry, but the Dominican Republic has more people with African ancestry. Tropical fruit is a large part of the diet in both countries. However, boxing and baseball are far more popular sports in the Dominican Republic than in Costa Rica.
- Nicaragua, 7. Ecuador, 8. Mexico , 9. Guatemala, 10. Venezuela
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Costa Rica
The five least similar countries to Panama all have large Muslim populations. Three of the five are located in Africa, while the other two are in Asia. They all have dry climates. They also have a much lower standard of living than Costa Rica and their governments are far less democratic and more anarchic. All of these countries have experienced war in recent times.
- Somalia is the least similar country to Costa Rica for a variety of reasons. Its governmental policies, influenced by its Muslim population, are extremely conservative, compared to more liberal Costa Rica. In addition, the countries are on opposite ends of the precipitation scale, as Costa Rica is a rainforest, while Somalia is quite dry. Still, both countries do use the Latin alphabet, although their languages are unrelated.
- Yemen is located in the Arabian Desert across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. Its barren desert is in stark contrast to Costa Rica’s lush tropical forests. The country is yet another impoverished, predominately Muslim country on this list. Its government is more unstable than Costa Rica’s as well. Yemen has more firearms per capita and also much less restrictive gun control laws.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, across the Red Sea from Yemen. It is yet another country that natively speaks Arabic and is mostly Muslim. In addition, its government is lead by the military, following a recent coup. In contrast, Costa Rica does not even have a military. Their laws are far different since Sudan does not allow same sex marriage, gambling, or alcohol.
- Eritrea is next to Sudan. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population. However, they are mostly Oriental Orthodox. Their people natively speak Semitic languages and use the unique Ge’ez script. The government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years, while Costa Rica is very democratic. Still, much of the land in both countries is located next to the coast.
- Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Asia with a barren landscape due to its high elevation and low average rainfall. While both countries natively speak Indo-European languages, they use different writing systems. The country’s favorite sport is cricket and it does not have a successful soccer team, in contrast to Costa Rica, which has made the World Cup several times, despite its relatively low population.
- Chad, 7. Mauritania, 8. Niger, 9. North Korea, 10. Mali
Costa Rica is like if Panama was more like Spain
Costa Rica and Panama are very similar countries. There is not a big difference between them. According to the data, Spain is one country that is slightly more like Costa Rica than Panama. Spain and Costa Rica have a higher degree of rule of law. They also have single payer healthcare systems. Furthermore, both Spain and Costa Rica allow same sex marriage and have decriminalized marijuana, unlike Panama.
All data accurate as of 2020.