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 Finland
Finland is a European country. The four of the five most similar countries to it border the Baltic Sea. As a result of their location at high latitudes, these countries tend to have relatively low average temperatures. Furthermore, the predominate religious domination in most of these countries is Protestantism, although they have a high percentage of atheists as well. With the exception of Norway, they are all members of the European Union.
- Sweden is extremely similar to Finland, due in part to the fact that Finland was part of Sweden for almost 700 years. In fact, Swedish is still one of Finland’s official languages. Although the Swedish language is vastly different from Finnish, the two languages use essentially the same alphabet and orthography. Their landscapes are extremely similar. Both countries are sparsely populated, densely forested countries with lots of freshwater lakes. One big difference is that Sweden does not use the Euro.
- Estonia is the most linguistically similar country to Finland, since they both speak Finnic languages. However, there is also a high percentage of Russian speakers in Estonia. Because of this greater Russian influence, there are actually more Orthodox Christians than Protestants there, but both countries have many atheists. Estonia also has a very similar sports culture to Finland, 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.
- Norway is another Scandinavian country, similar to Sweden. However, there are also some big differences. Finland is quite flat, while Norway is extremely mountainous. It is also less heavily forested. In addition, Norway is not in the European Union, nevertheless it still is part of the Nordic Council. Still, their agriculture is similar. Both countries predominately grow barley, but also grow oats and wheat.
- Latvia, like Estonia, is another Baltic country that had been part of the Soviet Union but is now in the European Union. Due to Russian influence, both counties use 5 ft. gauge railroad tracks. Although both countries use the Latin alphabet, unlike Estonia and Finland, their people speak an Indo-European language. Another difference is that Latvia is more conservative and less prosperous than Finland. Unlike others on this list, the country has a mix of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians.
- Denmark also borders the Baltic Sea, but its climate is much more temperate than other countries on this list. 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 are very flat but also highly urbanized and have a similar standard of living.
- Germany, 7. Austria, 8. Netherlands, 9. France 10. Slovenia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Finland
The four least similar countries to Finland all border either the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea. Although they are relatively in close proximity to Finland and are also sparsely populated, their climate is much hotter and drier. Four of the five least similar are mostly Muslim, so they have much more conservative laws than Finland. In addition, these countries have a far lower standard of living and their governments are less democratic.
- Yemen is a war-torn and extremely conservative Muslim country that unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, is not well developed. Finland and Yemen have no linguistic similarity as well. In contrast to Finland, its people are on average some of the shortest in the world. Although most people in both countries could be considered Caucasian, their ancestry is still quite different.
- Eritrea is located across the Red Sea from Yemen. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population. However, they are mostly Oriental Orthodox and far more religious than people in Finland. In addition, it is extremely poor and its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. Its people natively speak Semitic languages and use the Ge’ez script.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, next to Eritrea. It is another poor Muslim country, like others on this list, that has recently experienced civil war. As a result, it lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its laws are far more conservative than Finland, since it criminalizes same sex marriage and does not allow alcohol.
- Somalia is located on the Horn of Africa. Due to on-going civil war it is a highly anarchic country with a low standard of living in stark contrast to Finland. Furthermore, while Somalia has little infrastructure, while Finland has many cars and trains per person. However, both countries do use the Latin alphabet.
- Niger is a former colony of France located in Africa. It is a landlocked, predominately Muslim country in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The country has the youngest population in the world, in stark contrast to Finland., which is much older. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world, while Finland has one of the lowest
- Chad, 7. Bangladesh, 8. Mali, 9. South Sudan, 10. Gambia
Finland is like if Sweden was more like Estonia
While Sweden is the most similar country to Finland according to the Index, they do have one big difference. Most people in Finland natively speak Finnish, which is not even in the same language family as Swedish. Although Estonian is not mutually intelligible with Finnish, they are relatively similar languages. Unlike Sweden, Estonia and Finland use Russian broad gauge railroad tracks. Furthermore, both countries do not have a constitutional monarch as head of state.
All data accurate as of 2020.