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 India
India is a South Asian country. Its population is mostly Hindu, so there are relatively few countries with a high degree of similarity to India. It is a highly diverse place even within its own boundaries. The top four countries most similar to it primarily speak Indic languages. In addition, four of the five border the Indian Ocean. The top five countries most similar to India all drive on the left side of the road and most use Type D electrical outlets. Furthermore, cricket is especially popular in these countries as well.
- Nepal is the only other country with more than 50% of the population that follows Hinduism. The Nepali language is also similar to Hindi and they use the same writing system. Nepal and India also use the parliamentary system. In addition, the Indian Rupee is legal tender in Nepal. They even have open borders with each other. However, it is landlocked and has a much more mountainous terrain. Its cooler climate also makes its geography significantly different.
- Sri Lanka is an island off the coast of India. The majority of Sri Lankans practice Theravada Buddhism not Hinduism, but both countries have great religious diversity. The country is also linguistically divided, mainly speaking Sinhalese, but having Tamil speakers as well. However, like India, English is a working language of its government. Another difference is that Sri Lanka is more developed than India.
- Bangladesh, along with Pakistan, was part of India until 1947, so the countries have significant similarities. Their main differences are religious and linguistic. Bangladesh has a majority Muslim population and their official language is Bengali. The country is also significantly more densely populated and it does not have any tall mountains. Still, both countries are mostly farmland and rice is their most produced crop.
- Pakistan is also similar to India, despite the fact that the countries are on unfriendly terms with each other. Pakistan’s official languages English and Urdu (a dialect of Hindi using the Arabic writing system) are similar to India’s. However, it has a majority Muslim population. Its climate is also significantly drier. They are also two of the few countries that possess nuclear weapons.
- Mauritius, like Sri Lanka, is another island in the Indian Ocean, however it is much closer to Africa. Both countries were once British colonies. Almost half of the people in the country are Hindu, since the British brought many indentured servants to the island from India. The biggest difference may be that Mauritius is much more developed. Interestingly enough, most of its people natively speak French Creole, since it was colonized by the French before Britain took it over.
- Myanmar, 7. Indonesia, 8. Fiji, 9. Bhutan, 10. Kenya
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to India
The four of the five least similar countries to India are located in Europe. They are all highly developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere and have much cooler climates. With the exception of Luxembourg, a low percentage of their land is used for agriculture and few people are farmers, unlike India. Furthermore, they all drive on the right side of the road and use a different railroad gauge. Despite the fact that most Indians speak an Indo-European language, four of the five least similar countries primarily speak Germanic languages, which are a part of the same language family.
- Iceland is by far the least similar country to India. It is a well developed, sparsely populated island. Not only are their people and culture quite different from India, but also their geography. Iceland’s climate is much colder and hardly any of their land is used for agriculture. However, one way India is far more developed than Iceland is their heavily used railroad network. In contrast, Iceland does not have a railroad.
- Finland is another extremely cold and sparsely populated Nordic country. The genetics of its people are further different from India than other European countries, since Finnish people have more genes originating from Siberia. They are also unique since they speak Uralic languages that are unrelated to Hindi. While cricket is extremely popular in India, Finland’s favorite sport is ice hockey.
- Canada and India were both former colonies of Britain, but they quite different in almost every aspect, aside from India adopting English as an official language. Its sparsely populated, highly urbanized population starkly contrasts India’s dense but rural population. Furthermore, India’s mostly vegetarian diet is vastly different from the meat-loving Canadians. In addition, Canada does extremely well at the Olympics for a country its size, in contrast India has won few medals at the Olympics.
- Norway is yet another country that borders the Arctic Ocean on this list. The country is extremely mountainous, unlike most of India. It is also far more democratic and has a generous welfare system in place for its citizens, due to oil revenue. This has made Norway’s GDP one of the highest in the world. Still, most of the country is powered by hydroelectricity, in contrast to India, which primarily uses coal.
- Luxembourg is a landlocked country in Europe. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Its people are predominately Catholic although they are not particularly religious. While India and Luxembourg are both densely populated, Luxembourg’s land area is far smaller. Both countries have railroads that are heavily used, but it has more cars per capita.
- Sweden, 7. South Korea, 8. United States, 9. Switzerland, 10. Japan
India is like if Nepal was more like Sri Lanka
The data shows that Nepal is the most similar country to India. However, it does have a few differences, especially geographically. Sri Lanka is one country that has more in common with India than it does with Nepal. The governments of India and Sri Lanka both use English as a common language among different ethnic groups. The primary source of energy for both countries is coal. India and Sri Lanka are also significantly hotter than Nepal. Their terrain is less mountainous and they also have more coastline.
All data accurate as of 2020.