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 Laos
Laos is a country in Mainland Southeast Asia. Very few countries have a high degree of similarity to Laos. The four most similar countries are all tropical countries located between the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Their agriculture is also similar, since their fields predominately grow rice. The four most similar countries are predominately Buddhist as well. Furthermore, the infrastructure in these countries tends to be not well developed.
- Cambodia and Laos were both part of the Khmer Empire and more recently, French Indochina, so the countries have significant demographic and cultural similarities. They have similar public holidays, like New Year’s Day in April, Vesak Day, and Women’s Day. They are also some of the least developed countries in the region. However, Laos is landlocked and more mountainous.
- Myanmar is another country that practices Theravada Buddhism. Both countries are quite mountainous and not very urbanized. One big difference is that Myanmar was once part of British India, so it has a greater British influence than Laos, which was colonized by France. Although both countries use a writing system that originated from the Grantha script, their languages are unrelated.
- Vietnam, like Cambodia and Laos, was part of French Indochina. Like Laos, it is also a one party Communist state. Although it is a Buddhist country, it differs significantly from the top two countries since its people follow Mahayana tradition. Both countries’ agricultural areas almost exclusively grow rice and their diets are based on it. However, Vietnam is more prosperous and has a lot of coastline. In addition, it uses the Latin script.
- Thailand and Laos were part of the Khmer Empire before the kingdom declined. Thai and Lao are mutually intelligible languages and their writing systems are quite similar as well. Still, only around half of the Laotian population speaks Lao natively. Thailand is also much wealthier and more developed than Laos. It also has a higher percentage of farmland and a lower percentage of forested land. Furthermore, it drives left and primarily uses natural gas to create electricity, unlike Laos.
- Nepal is significantly less similar to Laos than the first four countries on this list. Still, it is another mountainous and landlocked country that borders China. Most of its people follow another Dharmic religion, Hinduism, but Buddhism is also practiced there as well. One big difference is that the ancestry of Nepalese is significantly different from Laotians. They have far less East Asian ancestry.
- Madagascar, 7. Philippines, 8. Bhutan, 9. Indonesia, 10. North Korea
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Laos
Interestingly enough, the least similar countries to Laos are all English-speaking countries that are also mostly Christian. They have a much higher standard of living than Laos as well. Their government are also far more democratic and in general have less conservative laws. With the exception of Australia, these countries have significantly cooler climates than Laos.
- United States is vastly different from Laos in all five factors: demographics, culture, politics, technology, and geography. One thing they do share is that they were both European colonies at some point, however Laos was colonized by the French, unlike the United States which has a greater British influence. In contrast to the United States, Laos is run by a one dominant socialist party.
- Canada also has very few traits in common with Laos. It is one of the coldest countries in the world and it also has a lot of coastline, in contrast to Laos. In addition, while Laos has an authoritarian government with little rule of law, Canada has one of the most democratic governments in the world.
- Ireland is mostly pasture land and is not very mountainous, in contrast to Laos. The country also has a majority Catholic population. Its infrastructure is especially different from Laos, since it drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets. The country is also far wealthier than Laos. However, one thing they have in common is that they both enjoy the sport of boxing.
- United Kingdom is a relatively flat island, in contrast to mountainous and landlocked Laos. It is much more developed and densely populated. In addition, like Ireland, its infrastructure is especially different from Laos, since it drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets. Furthermore, it is a constitutional monarchy that has a bicameral legislature, in contrast to Laos.
- Australia unlike other countries on this list, is relatively close in distance to Laos. Still, its geography is far different. While Laos is covered in forests, Australia is mostly desert and has completely different flora and fauna. In addition, its infrastructure is quite different since it drives on the left and uses Type I electrical outlets, although the voltage is the same.
- Denmark, 7. Germany, 8. Netherlands, 9. Belgium, 10. New Zealand
Laos is like if Cambodia was more like Bhutan
Cambodia is the most similar country to Laos, according to the Index. However, it is not landlocked and its terrain is much less mountainous. Bhutan is slightly more like Laos than it is to Cambodia. This is because they are both landlocked and mountainous. They also both border China.
All data accurate as of 2020.