The Most Similar Countries to Malawi

map of similar countries to malawi

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.

diagram of similar countries to malawi

Top 10 Countries Most Similar to Malawi

Malawi is a country in the Tropical Africa region. The top five countries most similar to it all have English as one of their official languages, since they were once colonized by the British. Furthermore, most of their people natively speak languages from the Niger-Congo family as well. The top five also have a majority Christian population, although Tanzania’s is only around 60 percent. In addition, their landscapes are similar since they are mostly tropical savannas.

  1. Zambia is to the west of Malawi. They were once part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, before gaining independence from Great Britain. Around 30 percent of people in both countries natively speak Chewa. Both countries are landlocked and rely on hydropower to create electricity. However, Zambia is more sparsely populated. It also has a far lower percentage of agricultural land.
  2. Zimbabwe, like Zambia and Malawi, was once part of Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, before gaining independence from Great Britain. It is another landlocked country in Southern Africa that also grows lots of corn. Both countries drive on the left and use 3′-6″ railroad gauge. They also do not allow polygamy or the sale of pornography. One difference is that Zimbabwe’s government is more volatile and less democratic.
  3. Uganda is another East African country that is located in the Great Rift Valley near a large freshwater lake. Both countries have a high percentage of agricultural land and most people living there are farmers. In addition, they have about the same population density. While both countries are predominately Christian, Uganda has far more Catholics. Uganda is also less democratic than Malawi, since elections are often rigged there.
  4. Tanzania borders Lake Malawi as well. The countries have relatively the same climate and standard of living. However, Tanzania has a significantly higher percentage of Muslims. Despite this, Tanzanians drink more alcohol per capita than Malawi. It also relies more on fossil fuels than hydropower to create electricity.
  5. Ghana is the most similar country to Malawi in West Africa. They are both predominately Christian, but also have a significant amount of Muslims as well. Both countries are democracies that use the presidential system of government and also have a unicameral legislature. However, their diets are significantly different. While people in both countries eat a lot of cassava, Malawians tend to eat more corn and potatoes, while Ghanians eat more yams.
  6. Rwanda, 7. Kenya, 8. Mozambique, 9. Eswatini, 10. Lesotho

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Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Malawi

The least similar countries to Malawi are located in two locations: East Asia and the Middle East. The five least similar countries all have a much higher standard of living as well. Unlike landlocked Malawi, they all have a significant amount of coastline as well. Furthermore, these countries tend to have many skyscrapers in their cities, in contrast to Malawi.

  1. Japan is by far the least similar country to Malawi. Not only is its geography significantly different, but also its demographics, culture, and technology. There isn’t much in common between the two, except that they both drive on the left and use 3’6″ railroad track gauge. Its climate is also colder and wetter than Malawi. 
  2. Taiwan is another East Asian country located on an island in the Pacific Ocean on this list. Like Japan, its demographics and culture are quite different from Malawi. However, Taiwan’s subtropical climate is more similar to Malawi than Japan. However, their agriculture is significantly different, since Taiwan tends to grow a lot of rice.
  3. South Korea also borders the Pacific Ocean. It is another highly developed country on this list. Although it is not an island, most of its land close to the coast. However, South Korea does have a significant Christian population. Still, their languages and writing systems are completely unrelated. The use different electrical outlets and drive on different sides of the road as well.
  4. Saudi Arabia has a sparsely populated desert landscape, in contrast to Malawi, which has some of the highest percentage of surface freshwater in the world. The country is predominately Muslim and its people primarily speak Arabic. While Saudi Arabia creates most of its electricity using fossil fuels, Malawi primarily uses hydropower. Its government is also an absolute monarchy, while Malawi is more democratic.
  5. Bahrain is a small densely populated island, near Saudi Arabia. The country has many skyscrapers, while Malawi does not have any skyscrapers in the entire country. Everyone is close to the coast in Bahrain, in contrast to landlocked Malawi. Its population is also far wealthier as well. Furthermore, Bahrain has a much higher percentage of males.
  6. Iceland, 7. Kuwait, 8. China, 9. Finland, 10. Qatar

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Malawi is like if Zambia was more like Gambia

Malawi and Zambia are extremely similar countries. Only a few countries are more similar to Malawi than Zambia. Gambia is one country that has a few traits of Malawi than Zambia lacks. They are both more densely populated than Zambia. They also no longer allow polygamy. In addition, about 10% of Malawi’s population is Muslim, while in Zambia it is far lower.

Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Malawi

All data accurate as of 2020.

graph of similar countries to malawi

Country Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Zambia
Most Similar Culture: Zambia
Most Similar Government: Zambia
Most Similar Infrastructure: Zambia
Most Similar Geography: Zambia

Least Similar Demographics: Japan
Least Similar Culture: Japan
Least Similar Government: North Korea
Least Similar Infrastructure: United States
Least Similar Geography: Bahrain

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