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 Estonia
Estonia is a European country. The top five most similar countries to it border the Baltic Sea. Their climates are generally quite cold and as a result these countries tend to grow a lot of barley. They are all part of the European Union. Four of the top five countries are not very religious, but have historically had a large population of Lutherans. Furthermore, these countries all have a high standard of living.
- Latvia and Estonia were once united for hundreds of years, as part of a territory called Livonia. More recently, both had been part of the Soviet Union but are now in the European Union. Both countries also have a large percentage of Russians living in them. Due to integration with the Soviet Union, both counties use 5 ft. gauge railroad tracks. Latvia also has a mix of Protestants and Orthodox Christians, but also has more Catholics.
- Lithuania is yet another country that had been part of the Soviet Union but is now in the European Union. Despite their close proximity, its culture is quite different. The country is mostly Catholic and more religious than Estonia. They are also more interested in basketball and less interested in ice hockey. Their government is slightly different as well, since it does not use the parliamentary system of government and has more conservative laws. Still, both countries are multi-party democracies with unicameral legislatures.
- Finland is the most linguistically similar country to Estonia, since they both speak Finnic languages. Finland also has a very similar sports culture to Estonia, since they both like ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, but also have done well in wrestling, cross-country skiing and track & field at the Olympics. Both countries are quite flat and have a lot of freshwater lakes. Although Finland was never part of the Soviet Union, its railroad uses Russian broad gauge tracks, like Estonia.
- Sweden is another Nordic country on this list. Estonia was actually part of Sweden in the 18th Century. Like Finland and Estonia, Sweden also likes to play ice hockey and also does well in cross-country skiing at the Olympics. Still, there are many differences. Sweden does not use the Euro. It is also not part of NATO. Furthermore, although they both have parliamentary style governments, Sweden has a monarch as head of state. The country is also more mountainous.
- Denmark is another relatively flat country that borders the Baltic Sea, but its climate is much more temperate than Estonia. This also has an effect on its sports culture, as it has little interest in ice hockey and is not nearly as good in the Winter Olympics as other countries on this list. It also has much less forested land, since most of it is used for agriculture. Still, both countries have a lot of coastline.
- Czechia, 7. Slovenia, 8. Hungary, 9. Germany, 10. Slovakia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Estonia
The five least similar countries to Estonia are all on the border between the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the native people in these countries speak Afro-Asiatic languages. With the exception of Eritrea, they are all predominately Muslim countries with much more conservative laws. Although they are relatively in close proximity to Estonia, their climates are much hotter and drier. In addition, these countries have a far lower standard of living.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert. Its population natively speaks Arabic and it is mostly Muslim. The country has recently experienced civil war. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. As a result, its standard of living is far lower than Estonia. Its laws also are far different, since it does not allow abortion, same sex relationships, or alcohol.
- Yemen is located across the Red Sea from Sudan. It is a war-torn and extremely conservative Muslim country that unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, is not well developed. The countries have no linguistic similarity as well. One similarity is that most people in both countries could be considered Caucasian, although their lineage is still far different. The country is also much more mountainous than Estonia.
- Eritrea is also located on the Red Sea. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population. However, they have a lot of Muslims as well and are much more religious. In addition, it is extremely poor and its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. The country also uses the unique Ge’ez script.
- Mauritania also borders the Atlantic Ocean, but it is located in the Sahara Desert. Like other countries on this list, its people speak a dialect of Arabic and its people are mostly Muslim. The country has had many military coups d’état over the years. However, both countries have unicameral governments with a variety of political parties.
- Chad is a landlocked, predominately Muslim country in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The country’s official languages are French and Arabic. The country has one of the youngest populations in the world, in stark contrast to Estonia, which is much older. Furthermore, its authoritarian government is much less democratic than Estonia’s.
- Somalia, 7. Niger, 8. Bangladesh, 9. Laos, 10. Uganda
Estonia is like if Latvia was more like Finland
While Latvia is the most similar country to Estonia, it also has a few differences. Estonia speaks a Finno-Ugric language and has a higher percentage of Protestants than Latvia. Finland is one country that shares these qualities with Estonia. Both countries excel at wrestling and cross-country skiing at the Olympics as well. Furthermore, their flags both incorporate blue and white.
All data accurate as of 2020.