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 France
France is a European country. Many countries in the region are similar to it. Four of the top five countries are predominately Catholic, although they have a significant percentage of atheists as well. In addition, they are all members of the European Union and use the Euro as currency. The infrastructure in these countries is highly developed. With the exception of Italy, most of the regions in these countries have a temperate climate.
- Belgium is by far the most similar country to France. It is just to its north and even has been part of France in the past. Approximately half of the country speaks French natively, although the other half speaks Dutch. The country is mostly Catholic, but its people are not especially religious, like France. In addition, they also both use Type C, E electrical outlets, unlike most other European countries. Soccer is the most popular sport in both countries, but Belgians have less interest in rugby.
- Luxembourg had been under French control between 1686 to 1815, when it was given autonomy during the Congress of Vienna. Like France, it is mostly Catholic. In addition, French is one of its official languages along with German and Luxembourgish. One difference is that Luxembourg has a parliamentary form of government with a constitutional monarch, while France was one of the first countries to abolish their monarchy. It also has a unicameral parliament, unlike France.
- Italy is to the southeast of France. Both countries speak Romance languages and have a majority Catholic population. Both countries also excel at the Olympics (especially in fencing) and have won the World Cup several times. However, Italians tend to be more religious. Furthermore, their climate is much warmer and it does not border the Atlantic Ocean. Another difference is that Italy does not generate nuclear power, in contrast to France.
- Germany‘s geography is very similar to France. Except for the French Riviera, they have a similar climate, population density, and percentage of agricultural land. Both countries grow mostly wheat, but also barley and rapeseed. Although Germany has a lower percentage of Catholics, both have a small Muslim minority coming from recent immigration. The biggest difference is that the French do not speak a Germanic language and are more outgoing than Germans, according to the Lewis Model.
- Slovenia is another mostly Catholic country with a similar climate and standard of living. In fact, Slovenia was part of France for a brief period in the 19th Century. Both countries produce and drink a lot of wine. Slovenia relies on nuclear energy to produce a lot of its electricity, like France. However, one big difference is language, since Slovenia is a Slavic country. While both countries have many wheat fields and vineyards, Slovenia has a far greater percentage corn fields.
- Spain, 7. Portugal, 8.Netherlands, 9. Czechia, 10. Austria
(Note: Overseas territories of France are treated separately from France by most statistical sources, so they are not included as part of France for this study.)
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to France
The four least similar countries to France have large Muslim populations. These four countries also all border the Indian Ocean. Their governments tend to have far more conservative laws than France. Furthermore, these countries have a much lower standard of living. Their infrastructure is not nearly as well developed as well.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert. The country recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan, due to civil war. Sudan is mostly Muslim and has far more conservative laws than France. It does not allow same sex relationships, abortion, gambling, or alcohol. It was once a protectorate of Great Britain, so it also has more of a British influence.
- Somalia is an anarchic, Muslim country with poorly developed infrastructure, due to civil war. Its tropical desert landscape that contrasts France’s more verdant terrain. It is less mountainous and has far less agricultural land. However, the country does use the Latin script, although the Somali language is completely unrelated to French, since it is part of the Afro-Asiatic family.
- Eritrea is another country on the Horn of Africa. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. The country has little infrastructure, unlike France. Although its population is about 50% Christian, they are part of the unique Oriental Orthodox denomination. Linguistically, Eritrea has no similarity as well since they speak Afro-Asiatic languages and use the Ge’ez script.
- Bangladesh‘s geography is significantly different from the first three countries on this list, since it is quite wet. Much of the country is filled with rice paddies. It is extremely flat, since it is located in a large river delta. It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Although the people in both countries natively speak Indo-European languages, Bengali is far different and does not use the Latin script. Furthermore, cricket is far more popular than soccer in this country.
- Papua New Guinea is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world, in contrast to France’s more temperate climate. Its people have little in common demographically or culturally with France. Furthermore, although its people are mostly Christians, they are generally Protestants and more religious. Their infrastructure is also extremely different, since they drive on the left, use Type I electrical outlets, and also have no railroad in use.
- Yemen, 7. South Sudan, 8. Laos, 9. Solomon Islands, 10. Cambodia
France is like if Belgium was more like Portugal
While Belgium is by far the most similar country to France, it does have a few differences as well. The data indicates that Portugal is one country that has many more traits of France than Belgium. Both France and Portugal do not have nearly as many Germanic language speakers as Belgium. They also have the same semi-presidential form of government and are not constitutional monarchies. Furthermore, France’s climate is somewhere between Belgium’s and Portugal’s depending on the specific region. Wine is also more popular in these countries than in Belgium.
All data accurate as of 2020.