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 Germany
Germany is a European country. Many countries in the region are similar to it. A majority of people in the the top five most similar countries natively speak Germanic languages. Furthermore, they are all in the European Union. Four of the five use the Euro as currency. These countries are have a high level of development and their governments also have relatively liberal policies.
- Austria is another German-speaking country to its south. In fact, the country had once been part of Germany for many years. However its geography is somewhat different, being a landlocked country with a mountainous landscape. Furthermore, it is mostly Catholic, although neither country is especially religious. Still, both countries are quite wealthy and have aging populations. Their diet, heavy in pork, bread, and potatoes, is also almost identical.
- Netherlands and Germany were originally part of the Holy Roman Empire. They both have a mix of Catholics and Protestants but also have a high number of atheists and a minority population of Muslims. According to the Lewis Index, the typical personality of Dutch and German people is quite similar. Moreover, their laws are nearly identical. Both countries allow prostitution, same sex marriage, and abortion.
- Belgium is yet another country that was originally part of the Holy Roman Empire. However, unlike Germany and Netherlands, they are mostly Catholic and furthermore approximately half of the country speaks French, a non-Germanic language. Still, German is one of its official languages, although few people speak it natively there. Their geography and climate is extremely similar as well.
- Luxembourg had been part of the German Confederation before and up until 1919 had also been a member of the German Customs Union. Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world and has a high level of development. Like Belgium, one of its official languages is German, although few people speak it natively there. Their agriculture is similar as well, since they primarily produce wheat, as well as barley and rapeseed.
- Denmark is directly north of Germany. Both countries speak Germanic languages and share similar demographics. However, Denmark does not use the Euro. It also uses a slightly different electrical outlet. Furthermore, while both countries border both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, Denmark has a much larger percentage of coastline. A large percentage of their electricity is supplied by sustainable sources, especially from wind power.
- France, 7. Switzerland, 8. Czechia, 9. Slovenia, 10. Sweden
One surprising county not to make the top five is Switzerland. While 60% of people in Switzerland speak German, Switzerland has many significant differences. Swiss German is actually not mutually intelligible with High German. Switzerland is also not in the European Union and has a unique form of government. Furthermore, its mountainous landscape is also significantly different from most of Germany.
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Germany
The four of five the five least similar countries to Germany are located in Africa. They are all close in proximity to the Red Sea. Their climate is far different since they all have a hot desert climate. With the exception of Eritrea, they are predominately Muslim countries, because of this their laws tend to be much more conservative. In addition, these countries are much poorer and far less democratic than Germany.
- Eritrea has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. Eritreans speak an Afro-Asiatic language and use the unique Ge’ez script. The country is quite mountainous and has little arable land. In addition, most of the land in the country is close to the coast. Although about half of the country is Christian, they are Oriental Orthodox and tend to be much more religious.
- Sudan is in the Sahara Desert, next to Eritrea. The country recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan, due to civil war. The country is mostly Muslim and its people natively speak a form of Arabic. It has far more conservative laws, since it does not allow same sex marriage, prostitution, gambling, abortion, or alcohol.
- Somalia is located in Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is another anarchic, predominately Muslim country that is enduring civil war. However, although Somali is an Afro-Asiatic language, it does use the Latin alphabet. Somalia also has far more coastline than Germany. Although their infrastructure is significantly less developed, both countries drive on the right and use Type C, F electrical outlets.
- Yemen, unlike other countries on this list, is located in Asia. In contrast to other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, it has poorly developed infrastructure due to civil war. It is also the country with most guns per capita, besides the United States, and it has few gun restrictions. However, Yemeni people are considered to be Caucasian, although their ancestry is still significantly different from Germans.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. Its official languages are French and Arabic. It is mostly Muslim, but also has a significant Christian population. The country was ruled by a dictator for several decades. Its demographics are also far different from Germany, since its people are much younger and have mostly Sub-Saharan African ancestry.
- Laos, 7. Niger, 8. Mali, 9. Mauritania, 10. Papua New Guinea
Germany is like if Austria was more like the Netherlands
While Austria is the most similar country to Germany, the data indicates that the Netherlands has many traits of Germany that Austria lacks. Like the Netherlands, Germany is far less mountainous than Austria and borders the North Sea. Furthermore, while Austria is mostly Catholic, the Netherlands and Germany have far more Protestants. Unlike Austria, both countries are members of NATO.
All data accurate as of 2020.