The Most Similar Countries to Cuba

cuba similar countries map

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.

cuba similar countries diagram

Top 10 Countries Most Similar to Cuba

Cuba is a Latin American country located in the Caribbean Sea. Due in part to its political situation and government, it is one of the most unique countries in the region. The five most similar countries to Cuba all border the Caribbean Sea. They also speak Spanish natively and are predominately Catholic, although Cuba is the least religious among them. According to the Lewis Model, the people in these countries tend to be especially outgoing. In addition, they all have tropical climates.

  1. Dominican Republic is another island nation in the Greater Antilles. Both countries share a similar culture, especially in regards to sports as they both produce many baseball players, but aren’t so great at soccer. Both countries have also won Olympic medals in boxing and track. However, Cuba and Dominican Republic’s politics are quite different. While Cuba is a single-party socialist country, the Dominican Republic is a multi-party democracy.
  2. Venezuela is more similar to Cuba than the Dominican Republic in regards to politics. The country implemented many socialist policies under former president Hugo Chavez. They both have free college, universal healthcare, and generous pensions. In addition, both countries maintain close ties to Russia. Still, Venezuela is in South America and the country’s economy relies on oil exports, unlike Cuba.
  3. Nicaragua is the country in Central America most similar to Cuba. Like Cuba, Nicaragua is largely ruled by a socialist party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, however it is more democratic than Cuba, since other political parties are allowed. These countries also rely on oil imports to create electricity. Both countries have tropical climates with similar flora and fauna, however Nicaragua has volcanos and more mountains.
  4. Panama and Cuba had both been occupied by the United States and subsequently gained their independence, although Panama has kept a closer relationship with the United States recently. These countries share significant cultural and demographic similarities. Panama has the highest amount of African ancestry of Spanish-speaking countries in Central America. However, unlike Cuba, it produces much more rice than sugarcane.
  5. Costa Rica is very similar to Panama. It has one of the highest standards of living in Central America. One difference is that Cuba relies on oil and gas imports to create electricity, while Costa Rica relies on sustainable energy like hydropower. Furthermore, unlike other countries on this list, baseball is not popular in the country. Costa Rica is also one of the most democratic countries in the region, in contrast to Cuba.
  6. El Salvador, 7. Mexico, 8. Colombia, 9. Honduras, 10. Ecuador

Related: 5 Countries with the Most Similar Food to Cuba

Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Cuba

Four of the five least similar countries to Cuba are located in Asia. They also have very little in common culturally with Cuba. They are all much more religious and have more conservative laws. They also tend to be less wealthy and not as well developed. They have lower literacy rates and fewer college graduates. The three least similar countries are extremely mountainous, landlocked countries.

  1. Bhutan is a landlocked country on the opposite side of the world. In contrast to Cuba’s low-lying landscape, Bhutan has the highest average elevation in the world. The country has especially unique traditions since its people are mostly devout Buddhists. Cubans on the other hand are mostly Catholic and the government has an official policy of state atheism. Their demographics are also especially different, since most people in Bhutan have East Asian ancestry.
  2. Afghanistan is another Asian country that is mountainous and landlocked. It is a predominately Muslim country that is much poorer than Cuba. However, one similarity the countries do share is that they both have received a lot of military aid from the Soviet Union and Russia over the years. Another similarity is that most people in both countries natively speak Indo-European languages.
  3. Nepal is a similar country to Bhutan. It is also landlocked, extremely mountainous, and is quite rural. However Nepal differs from Bhutan in the fact that most its people practice Hinduism. Nepal’s infrastructure standards are also significantly different. It drives on the left of the road and relies on hydropower to create electricity. It also uses different electrical outlets and voltages.
  4. Somalia is the least similar country to Cuba in Africa. Its people are mostly Muslim. Its landscape is sparsely vegetated and its climate is much drier than Cuba’s. Due to recent civil war, its infrastructure is not well developed. Although Somali is an Afro-Asiatic language, it does use the Latin alphabet, like Spanish. Another similarity is they both have a lot of coastline and are relatively flat.
  5. Yemen is located in the Arabian Desert, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. Unlike other countries on the Arabian peninsula, it is not nearly as affluent, in part due to on-going civil war. It is another impoverished country with little demographic, cultural, or technological similarity to Cuba. Its people natively speak Arabic and are mostly Muslim. The country also has far less restrictive gun control laws than Cuba.
  6. Niger, 7. Japan, 8. Pakistan, 9. Lesotho, 10. Chad

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Cuba is like if the Dominican Republic was more like Belarus

The Dominican Republic is easily the most similar country to Cuba, but their governments are significantly different. Despite Belarus having little overall similarity to Cuba, it does have many of the traits of Cuba that the Dominican Republic lacks. Both Cuba and Belarus have authoritarian governments that have close ties to Russia. They both allow abortion, retain the death penalty, and also life in prison sentences, unlike the Dominican Republic. These countries are also better educated and have more elderly people.

Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Cuba

All data accurate as of 2020.

cuba similar countries graph

Country Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Dominican Republic
Most Similar Culture: Dominican Republic
Most Similar Government: Vietnam
Most Similar Infrastructure: Venezuela
Most Similar Geography: Dominican Republic

Least Similar Demographics: Laos
Least Similar Culture: Bhutan
Least Similar Government: Jamaica
Least Similar Infrastructure: Malawi
Least Similar Geography: Tajikistan

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