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 Croatia
Croatia is a European country. Many countries in the region are similar to it. In fact, the data from the Index supports the notion that it is Europe’s most average country. Due in part to its central location, it is at the crossroads of Southern, Eastern, and Central Europe. The top five countries most similar to it speak Slavic languages. In addition these countries are all democracies that have a parliamentary system of government. The top four countries were once part of Yugoslavia.
- Slovenia is the only other former country of Yugoslavia that is predominately Catholic. Both countries are also in the European Union. They also exclusively use the Latin script, however the Slovenian language is slightly different from Serbo-Croatian. The two countries have also won skiing and rowing medals at the Olympics. Their agriculture is similar as well, since they both predominately produce corn and wheat. However, Slovenia has very little coastline.
- Serbia is another country that speaks Serbo-Croatian. The countries have similar demographics. Both have more women than men and the average age of the countries is about the same. They are also two of the tallest countries in the world. There are two big differences. Serbians are Orthodox Christians, not Catholic. Another difference is Serbia is landlocked and has more farmland, while Croatia is famous for its beautiful beaches.
- Montenegro used to be part of Serbia until 2006. Other than Croatia, it is the only other former Yugoslavian country to have a significant amount of coastline. Both countries speak Serbo-Croatian. Although Montenegro is not part of the European Union, it is also a member of NATO. Both countries love soccer, basketball, and handball. Although both countries have roughly the same percentage of agricultural area, Montenegro’s crops are significantly different, since it produces many fruits.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina shares a long border with Croatian. In fact, about 15% of people in Bosnia are ethnic Croatians. Still, it is significantly different from Croatia, since around half of its population is Muslim. Furthermore, to accommodate different ethnic groups, it has a unique government. Other than the fact that Bosnia is nearly landlocked, the countries also have similar geography. Both are mountainous and corn fields are common there.
- Slovakia and Croatia were both once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both countries are mostly Catholic and speak Slavic languages. In addition, both Croatia and Slovakia are in the European Union. One difference is that Slovakians prefer ice hockey to basketball. Both countries are fairly mountainous, but Slovakia is landlocked. Another difference is that Slovakia relies mostly on nuclear power for electricity, in contrast Croatia has no nuclear power plants.
- Poland, 7. Czechia, 8. Bulgaria, 9. Italy, 10. Hungary
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Croatia
The four of the five least similar countries to Croatia are all located near the Red Sea. Despite their relative proximity, they have little similarity in their demographics, culture, and infrastructure. All these countries have significant Muslim populations. They also have a much lower standard of living. They have much hotter and drier climates as well. Furthermore, their governments are far less democratic.
- Eritrea is an African country located near the Red Sea. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. It also has a unique language and writing system are completely different from Croatian. Although Eritrea is mostly Christian, they part of the Oriental Orthodox denomination. Both countries are mountainous and also have a lot of their land close to the coast. However, Eritrea is mostly barren desert.
- Somalia is another African country on this list. It borders the Indian Ocean. The country is predominately Muslim. It is currently in a civil war, so its infrastructure is not well developed. Its climate is also much hotter and drier than Croatia’s. A low percentage of its land is used for agriculture. While both countries have a lot of coastline, Somalia is much less mountainous.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert and borders Eritrea. Due to civil war, the country recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Sudan’s laws are much more conservative than Croatia. Its government does not allow abortion, homosexuality, gambling, or alcohol. Still, one thing they share in common is that most of the water in both countries drains to the Mediterranean Sea, since the Nile River runs through Sudan.
- Niger is a landlocked African country located in the middle of the Sahara Desert. It was once a French colony before becoming independent, so it uses French as its official language. Both countries use the Latin alphabet, but people in Niger natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. The country has the youngest average population in the world, in contrast to Croatia’s aging population. It is also one of the least developed countries in the world.
- Yemen is far different from Croatia, despite both countries being mountainous and having a lot of coastline. Yemen has a desert climate and a low percentage of forested land. It also has extremely different politics. Yemen is currently at civil war. It also has much more conservative laws than Croatia. Furthermore, while Croatians are some of the tallest people in the world on average, Yemenis are some of the shortest.
- Chad, 7. South Sudan, 8. Mali, 9. Mauritania, 10. Laos
Croatia is like if Slovenia was more like Montenegro
According to the Index, Slovenia is the most similar country to Croatia. However, the data shows that Montenegro shares some characteristics with Croatia that Slovenia does not have. The biggest similarity is that they both speak mutually intelligible varieties of Serbo-Croatian, unlike Slovenia. Croatia and Montenegro are also less developed than Slovenia. They do not have potable tap water. They also have fewer college graduates and their people are not as wealthy.
All data accurate as of 2020.