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.
Malaysia is an Insular Southeast Asian country. There are relatively few countries with a high degree of similarity to it. The four most similar countries all have many native speakers of Austronesian languages. Furthermore, the majority of their people in the four most similar countries practice Abrahamic religions and use the Latin script for their writing. In addition, these countries all have tropical climates and border the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, four of the five most similar countries drive on the left side of the road.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Malaysia
- Brunei used to rule a large portion of Borneo, before Malaysia and Indonesia took over a majority of the island. Like Malaysia, Brunei practices Islam and speaks the Malay language. Both countries use Type G electrical outlets and drive on the left, like Great Britain. They also both have monarchs, although Malaysia’s government is far more democratic. One difference is that Brunei is wealthier due to its oil production.
- Indonesia is highly similar to Malaysia, since the countries both practice Islam and speak mutually intelligible languages. However, Malaysia’s economy is more prosperous. In addition, since Indonesia was a Dutch colony, it uses Type C, F electrical outlets. It also uses different a different railroad gauge, although both countries do drive on the left side of the road. Another difference is that Indonesia has a lower percentage of people with Chinese ethnicity.
- Singapore is a small island country off the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia and Singapore were once part of the same country, but they separated in the 1960s. Despite these facts, there are significant differences between them. Singapore is basically just a densely populated city, so its geography is quite different from Malaysia which is quite mountainous and forested. Singapore’s lingua franca is English, not Malay. Furthermore, few people in Singapore speak Malay natively, since nearly 75% of its population are Chinese in ethnicity. Both countries are religiously diverse, but less than 15% of Singapore’s population is Muslim.
- Philippines is another densely populated country in the Pacific Ocean. Their people have relatively similar demographics and standard of living. However, the biggest difference between the Philippines and Malaysia is religion. Most Filipinos are Catholic, while Malaysians are mostly Muslim. Both countries were colonized by English-speaking countries, but since Philippines was colonized by the United States, it drives on the right and uses Type A, B electrical outlets.
- Thailand is just to the north of Malaysia. While it does not have much linguistic or religious similarity to Malaysia, the two countries are both constitutional monarchies. In addition, Thailand’s technology is quite similar to Malaysia since both countries drive on the left and use one-meter wide railroad tracks. Their power grids are interconnected as well, although they do not use the same electrical outlets. Both countries also have a relatively high standard of living compared to some other countries in Southeast Asia.
- Vietnam, 7. Mauritius, 8. Fiji, 9. Myanmar, 10. Sri Lanka
Few countries are far different from Malaysia. It does not have an especially high or low standard of living. Furthermore, a variety of different religions are practiced there. The five least similar countries to Malaysia fall into two groups: impoverished countries in the Sahara Desert and wealthy, predominately Germanic-speaking countries in Europe. However, these least similar countries do share one trait in stark contrast to Malaysia: a significant amount of their land is barren, due to either high altitude or extremely arid climates.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Malaysia
- Chad, like Malaysia, has a majority Muslim population, however religion is the only major similarity between them. It is a landlocked African country in the Sahara Desert. Its infrastructure is much less developed than Malaysia. The country drives on the right and uses Type C, F electrical outlets. Its government is also far less democratic.
- Eritrea‘s population is mostly Christian, but it around 40% of its people are Muslim as well. One big difference between these countries is their languages and writing system. Eritrea uses the unique Ge’ez script and its people natively speak Semitic languages. Its government has also been a one-party dictatorship for many years.
- Niger, like Chad, is a landlocked country in Africa with an extremely dry climate that is mostly Muslim. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and has the highest birth rate of any country. While Malaysia was a British colony, Niger was once a French colony. Still, both countries did adopt the Latin script although their languages are unrelated.
- Iceland is a well developed but sparsely populated Christian country. Not only are their demographics and culture much different from Malaysia, but also their geography. Although both countries have a lot of coastline, Iceland is significantly colder and its landscape is sparsely vegetated. They are also quite distant from each other.
- Switzerland is one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world. In addition, its geography is also quite different from Malaysia, since it is a temperate, landlocked country. However, both countries are mountainous. The country is also more democratic and has more liberal laws than Malaysia.
- Angola, 7. Mauritania, 8. Central African Republic, 9. Burundi, 10. Finland
Malaysia is like if Brunei was more like Indonesia
According to the Index, Brunei is the most similar country to Malaysia. However they also have some significant differences. Brunei is less democratic, but wealthier than Malaysia. Indonesia, on the other hand, is more democratic, but less as wealthy as Brunei. Their laws also tend to be slightly less conservative than Brunei’s as well. Brunei’s cities also tend to have less skyscrapers.
All data accurate as of 2020.
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