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.
Ireland is located in Europe, but in many ways it forms its own separate and distinct region with some of the former British colonies. Unlike most countries on the European continent, it drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets. Its legal system does not follow Civil Law and it has a supreme court, similar to the United States. The five most similar countries to Ireland are all places where most people natively speak Germanic languages. They also have a similar temperate climate and most of their lands are close to the ocean. Furthermore, these countries are all quite wealthy and have highly developed infrastructure.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Ireland
- United Kingdom ruled Ireland for over 100 years. It wasn’t until 1922 that it got its independence. The countries have similar demographics, culture, technology, and geography. The biggest difference between Ireland and the United Kingdom is religion. The Irish are mostly Catholic and more religious. Another difference is that Ireland is still part of the European Union and uses the Euro. Still, the countries have open borders with each other.
- Netherlands might seem like a surprising choice to be on this list, since Ireland used to be much poorer and much more religious than the Netherlands. However in the last 20 years, the situation has changed dramatically. Ireland is now one of the richest countries in the world and has become far less conservative. It even had an openly gay head of government. In addition, Ireland and the Netherlands are both low-lying and have a lot of wetlands. However, the Netherlands is much more densely populated. Both countries primarily rely on natural gas for power, but are rapidly installing more wind turbines.
- Belgium is another predominately Catholic country, although it is less religious than Ireland. Like the Netherlands and Ireland, it is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. However, their agriculture is different since most of Ireland’s fields are devoted to producing barley. In addition, Belgium does not have much coastline. Another difference is a significant percentage of the country does not natively speak a Germanic language.
- Denmark is yet another European country on this list with a similar climate and physical geography. Both countries are relatively flat and have a low percentage of forested land. Their agricultural areas both grow mostly barley. Furthermore, the people of these countries are also among the most outgoing in Northern Europe, according to the Lewis Model. However, like the United Kingdom, Denmark is mostly Protestant and has few Catholics.
- New Zealand is the most similar country to Ireland outside of Europe. Although it is located in the South Pacific Ocean, far away from Ireland, it still has many of the same traits. Both countries use English as their official language. They also both island nations that drive on the left side of the road. Both countries are highly democratic and have similar laws. However, New Zealand is significantly more mountainous.
- Luxembourg, 7. Germany, 8. Australia, 9. France, 10. Norway
Four of the five least similar countries to Ireland are located in Africa and have desert climates. With the exception of Laos, these countries also have large Muslim populations. In fact, most people in four of the five least similar countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Their infrastructure is not only far less developed, but they also use different technology standards.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Ireland
- Eritrea is an extremely hot and dry country located between Sudan and the Red Sea. Although it has a majority Christian population, it is Oriental Orthodox and they tend to be more religious. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years so it is far less democratic than Ireland. The country’s languages are completely unrelated to English and they use the unique Ge’ez script.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. Its technology is especially different from Ireland, since it uses Type C electrical outlets, drives on the right, and uses oil to create electricity. The country has two official languages, French and Arabic. Still, Chad does have a significant Christian population as well.
- Laos is the least similar country to Ireland in Asia. It is a landlocked and quite mountainous country in Southeast Asia. It is also mostly forest, in contrast to Ireland. Furthermore, most of their people follow Buddhism. Its government is far less democratic and controlled by the Communist Party. It also has a much lower standard of living than Ireland.
- Sudan is an impoverished Muslim country in the Sahara Desert. It is a war torn nation that recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. One big similarity with Ireland is that it English is actually one of its official languages, however few people in the country speak it. Its laws are far different, since it does not allow same sex marriage, abortion, or alcohol.
- Niger is yet another landlocked country in the Sahara Desert on this list. It has the youngest population in the world and the highest birthrate. An extremely low percentage of people are literate there. However, since it was once a colony of France, it uses the Latin alphabet. Like Chad, its technology is far different from Ireland’s. It has far less airports and does not have a seaport.
- Mauritania, 7. Yemen, 8. Mali, 9. Somalia, 10. Cambodia
Ireland is like if the United Kingdom was more like Lithuania
The United Kingdom is by far the most similar country to Ireland. However, they have a few significant differences. The United Kingdom is mostly Protestant and it is no longer in the European Union. Lithuania has many of the traits of Ireland that the United Kingdom lacks, since it is mostly Catholic and in the European Union. Furthermore, these countries are less densely populated than the United Kingdom. In addition, they do not have monarchs as head of state. According to the Lewis Index, Irish and Lithuanian people tend to be more outgoing than the British as well.
Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.