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.
Madagascar is a Sub-Saharan African country. However, it is one of the more unique countries in the region. Unlike the majority of people in the five most similar countries, who natively speak languages from the Niger-Congo family, Madagascar’s people speak an Austronesian language. This is because a significant portion of the population migrated from Southeast Asia and mixed with the native African population. Still, four of the top five countries most similar to Madagascar have French as their official language. With the exception of Benin, the vast majority of the people in these countries are Christian as well.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Madagascar
- Democratic Republic of Congo is another French-speaking African country, although unlike Madagascar it was colonized by Belgium, not France. Both countries have a high rate of poverty and do not have well developed infrastructure. The vast majority of their people are farmers, although a low percentage of the land in both countries is used for agriculture. In addition, both countries grow significant amounts of cassava and rice. Both countries do not allow gay marriage or abortion. Furthermore, they are part of the COMESA free trade area. One big difference is that the Democratic Republic of Congo is not a democracy, despite its name.
- Republic of Congo is another former French colony. Both are sparsely populated, tropical countries with little infrastructure. Both countries are mostly Protestant, but also have many Catholics. They also have similar public holidays. Both have a semi-presidential form of government and bicameral legislatures. In addition Madagascar and Republic of Congo receive military aid from South Africa. One difference is that Republic of Congo has a far higher percentage of forested land. Their people also tend to drink much more alcohol.
- Mozambique is the closest country on the mainland of Africa to Madagascar. The countries have an extremely similar climate, although their flora and fauna quite different. They are both rural and relatively sparsely populated. Unlike other countries on this list, its official language is Portuguese. Its infrastructure is also significantly different because Mozambique drives on the left and uses 3’6″ gauge railroad tracks, although neither country is well developed. In addition, although most of their laws are similar, one difference that abortion is legal upon request in Mozambique.
- Central African Republic is another former French colony on this list. Their infrastructure is fairly similar, since both countries drive on the right, use Type C, E electrical outlets, and depend on hydropower to create electricity. In addition, both countries have extremely high rates of poverty. Cassava forms the biggest part of the diet in both countries, but people in Madagascar tend to eat more rice and less yams. Another difference is that Central African Republic is landlocked and less mountainous than Madagascar.
- Benin, like the Republic of Congo and Madagascar is a former French colony. Both countries are democracies, although Benin has a presidential system of government and a unicameral legislature. In addition, their infrastructure is similar. They both drive on the right, use one meter gauge railroad track, and the same electrical outlets. The plurality of people are Christian in both countries, however Benin has far more Muslims and people that practice Voodoo.
- Togo, 7. Cameroon, 8. Ivory Coast, 9. Burundi, 10. Liberia
With the exception of Japan, the least similar countries to Madagascar are all located on the Arabian Peninsula, despite the fact that they border the Indian Ocean. They are all predominately Muslim countries that have dry climates and barren landscapes with little agricultural or forested land. In addition, these countries are monarchies, not democracies like Madagascar. Furthermore, they have a much higher standard of living, due to their vast oil reserves.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Madagascar
- Japan is another country based on an island, but it is far different. Its infrastructure is especially different since it drives on the left, uses Type A, B electrical outlets, and 3’6″ gauge railroad tracks, unlike Madagascar. Furthermore it is much more densely populated and its standard of living is much higher. However, the people of Madagascar do have some East Asian ancestry, although it is uniquely mixed with African ancestry.
- Kuwait is a predominately Muslim country located in the Arabian Desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, in contrast to Madagascar. The countries also have extremely different diets, since Kuwaitis do not eat very much cassava and eat potatoes and bread. It has relatively little agricultural land and most of it is used to cultivate dates.
- Bahrain is another island in the Indian Ocean. However, other than that these countries have little in common. Bahrain is far more densely populated and its cities have many skyscrapers. Like Kuwait, Bahrain is also far more affluent and developed than Madagascar. It has more cars per capita and more public transportation infrastructure. It also uses Type G electrical outlets, unlike Madagascar.
- United Arab Emirates is yet another Arab country on this list. While Madagascar has more women than men, the United Arab Emirates has far more men than women, since many men have migrated there to work in construction. Furthermore, the country has the tallest building in the world, while Madagascar does not have a single skyscraper in the entire country.
- Saudi Arabia borders the United Arab Emirates to the south. The country’s government is especially conservative and authoritarian, compared to Madagascar. It is an absolute monarchy and does not even have a legislature. Furthermore, it does not allow prostitution, gambling, or alcohol. Still, both countries are fairly sparsely populated.
- Qatar, 7. Israel, 8. Canada, 9. United Kingdom, 10. Finland
Madagascar is like if Congo was more like the Philippines
According to the Index, Madagascar’s most similar country in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However these countries also have some significant differences. The data shows that the Philippines is one country that has many traits of Madagascar that the Democratic Republic of Congo lacks. The native people in both Madagascar and the Philippines speak Austronesian languages, since people from Southeast Asia migrated to Madagascar over a thousand years ago. Madagascar and the Philippines are also more democratic than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furthermore, both countries are located on islands and rice is their predominate crop.
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