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 Latvia
Latvia is a European country. Four of the five most similar countries to Latvia have a majority Catholic population, despite Latvia having a higher percentage of Protestants. These four countries also speak languages from the Balto-Slavic family and use the Latin alphabet. The most similar countries all have temperate climates as well. In addition, these countries are all multi-party democracies. With the exception of Poland, they all have a parliamentary form of government and do not have monarchs.
- Lithuania is just south of Latvia. Lithuanian is the most similar language to Latvian. Both countries were once part of the Soviet Union, before joining the European Union. The countries also have extremely similar geography. Both countries grow mostly wheat, but also barley, oats, and rapeseed. In contrast to Latvia, the country is generally more religious and has a much higher percentage of Catholics. Furthermore, Lithuanians are more interested in basketball than Latvians.
- Estonia is yet another country bordering the Baltic Sea that was once part of the Soviet Union. The largest religious denomination in both countries is Protestant, however neither country is particularly religious. Both these countries also have cold climates and like to play ice hockey. Their governments are both parliamentary democracies with unicameral legislatures. The biggest difference between these countries is language. Estonian is not an Indo-European language. Still, both countries have a large population of Russian speakers in them.
- Czechia is much less similar to Latvia than Estonia or Lithuania, but it still has many things in common. Both countries are not very religious, although Czechia is mostly Catholic. Another similarity is that Czechs also love to play ice hockey. Both countries tend to drink a lot of alcohol as well. Despite not being Germanic countries, they also have been heavily influenced by Germans. Both countries have high divorce rates and low marriage rates.
- Slovakia is extremely similar to Czechia, since it is another country that speaks a Slavic language and is mostly Catholic. Slovakia and Latvia have a similar standard of living. However, their geography is not especially similar, since Slovakia is landlocked and further south. Its water flows into the Mediterranean Sea, not the Baltic Sea. It is also more mountainous than Latvia.
- Poland is similar to Lithuania, except it was not part of the Soviet Union. It is another Eastern European country that is part of the European Union and borders the Baltic Sea. However, it does not use the Euro. The countries also have a similar geography, although Latvia has a higher percentage of forested land and Poland has more agricultural land. Poland also has a more extensive train network and does not use railroad tracks with a Russian gauge.
- Germany, 7. Slovenia, 8. Croatia, 9. Finland, 10. Hungary
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Latvia
The four of the five least similar countries to Latvia are located in Africa. Most of these countries are clustered near the Red Sea and have hot, dry climates. Four of the five least similar countries are also predominately Muslim. Most people in these countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Furthermore, these countries have a much lower standard of living than Lithuania.
- Eritrea borders the Red Sea. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years, unlike the current stable democracy in Lithuania. It also has a unique language and writing system that is completely different from Latvian. However, over half of the people in the country are Christian, although they are part of the unique Oriental Orthodox denomination.
- Yemen is located on the Arabian Peninsula, across the Red Sea from Eritrea. Unlike other countries on the peninsula it is far less wealthy and its infrastructure is less developed. It currently has an on-going civil war. The country is also quite mountainous and its landscape is mostly barren, in contrast to Latvia. Although the people in both countries are considered to be Caucasian, Latvians tend to look quite different because they have far more blonde hair and blue eyed people.
- Sudan is in the Sahara Desert. It also borders the Red Sea like Yemen and Eritrea. Despite being in the same time zone as Latvia, it is far different. It is mostly Muslim and has far more conservative laws. It does not allow alcohol, abortion, or prostitution. The country recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan, due to civil war.
- Niger is a landlocked, predominately Muslim country in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The country has the youngest population in the world, in stark contrast to Latvia, which is much older. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world, while Lithuania has one of the lowest. Most of Niger’s population is male, while Lithuania has one of the lowest percentages of males in the world.
- Somalia is an anarchic, Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure. In addition, its hot desert climate contrasts Latvia’s cool temperate forest landscape. Furthermore, pork is by far the most consumed meat in Latvia, while in Somalia, it is forbidden. Still, one similarity is that both of their languages use the Latin alphabet.
- Chad, 7. Mali, 8. South Sudan, 9. Gambia, 10. Mauritania
Latvia is like if Lithuania was more like Finland
According to the Index, Lithuania is the most similar country to Latvia. However, there are a few aspects in which they are different. Finland is one country that has many aspects of Latvia that Lithuania lacks. Latvia and Finland have more Protestants than Lithuania. Ice hockey is also more popular in these countries than it is in Lithuania. Furthermore, according to the Lewis Model, their people tend to be less outgoing than Lithuanians as well.
All data accurate as of 2020.