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 Italy
Italy is a European country. Many countries in the region are similar to it. The five most similar countries to Italy are all predominately Catholic. Their governments are all democracies that are part of the European Union. With the exception of Croatia, they use the Euro as currency as well. Four of the five most similar countries border the Mediterranean Sea. These countries are also relatively mountainous.
- Spain is just across the Balearic Sea from Italy. Both countries are fairly mountainous and have a lot of coastline. The two countries have similar demographics and culture as well. In addition, both are parliamentary multi-party democracies, although Spain is a constitutional monarchy. The countries are also similar economically. However, Spain’s climate is drier than Italy’s and it produces less wheat. Still
- Portugal doesn’t actually border the Mediterranean Sea, however it has a similar climate to Italy. Like Spain, France, and Italy, it is mostly Catholic and its people natively speak Romance languages. Both countries grow and consume a lot of wine and olives. Their laws are also similar, but Portugal uses the semi-presidential form of government. Another difference is that Portugal’s economic situation is slightly worse than Italy’s.
- France is to the northwest of Italy. Both countries drink and grow a lot of wine. In addition, they share some sporting similarities, since they both have won the World Cup and have also won a majority of their Olympic medals in fencing. However, France also has a more diverse population, since it has more Muslims and people with African ancestry. Furthermore, France is cooler and less mountainous.
- Croatia is first nation on this list that does not speak a Romance language. However, it is another Catholic country with similar values and practices, located on the Adriatic Sea. In fact, most of the Croatian coast was once ruled by Venice. Croatia is also quite mountainous and has a lot of coastline, so it is a scenic destination for tourists, albeit more off the beaten path than Italy.
- Slovenia borders Italy to its east. Like Croatia, it is another Catholic country that speaks a Slavic language. However unlike Croatia and Italy, it has little coastline. The countries both have a parliamentary form of government with a prime minister and a head of state. Their laws are also fairly similar. They both only allow civil unions for same-sex couples. They also allow unorganized prostitution.
- Greece, 7. Belgium, 8. Austria, 9. Poland, 10. Germany
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Italy
The five least similar countries to Italy are all located in Africa, despite their relative proximity. The majority of people living in these countries speak Afro-Asiatic languages. These countries all have a hotter and drier climate and their landscapes have less vegetation as well. Four of the five least similar are countries where most people are Muslim. Their infrastructure and standard of living is far lower than Italy’s as well.
- Sudan is a predominately Muslim country located in the Sahara Desert. Most of the native people in the country speak Arabic. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Due to civil war, its infrastructure is far less developed than Italy’s. Its laws are also far different since it prohibits alcohol, abortions, and homosexuality.
- Niger is a landlocked, former French colony in the Sahara Desert with relatively flat terrain. It is one of the least developed countries in the world. It has the youngest average population in the world, in stark contrast to Italy, which has one of the oldest. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world. However, since French is its official language, it uses the Latin script like Italy.
- Eritrea is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, however their Christians there are part of the unique Oriental Orthodox denomination. Most people in the country speak Tigrinya and Tigre, using the unique Ge’ez script. Eritrea has one of the world’s most authoritarian governments. In addition, its climate is much hotter and drier than Italy’s. However, most of the land in both countries is located close to the coast.
- Chad is a landlocked, sparsely populated country in the Sahara Desert, like Niger. It has been ruled by a dictator for more than 30 years. It is mostly Muslim, however there is a significant Christian minority population there as well. Its official languages are Arabic and French. The country’s diet is also far different from Italy, since people there tend to eat a lot of millet and sorghum.
- Somalia, despite being in part colonized by Italy, is also very different from Italy. Like other countries on this list it suffers from on-going civil war. Its conservative policies contrast Italy’s more liberal society. Despite the fact that the Somali language is completely unrelated to Italian, both countries do use the Latin script. Although both countries have a lot of coastline, Somalia is far less mountainous.
- Mali, 7. South Sudan, 8. Laos, 9. Yemen, 10. Mauritania
Italy is like if Spain was more like Croatia
Spain is the most similar country to Italy. No countries are a lot more similar to Italy than to Spain. However, Croatia is one country that has some attributes of Italy that Spain lacks. Croatians and Italians tend to be more religious than Spaniards. Their governments also no longer have monarchs. They also only allow civil unions among same sex couples, not marriages. Furthermore, the railroads in Croatia and Italy use the standard gauge, unlike Spain.
All data accurate as of 2020.