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 Mali
Mali is a Sub-Saharan African country located in the Sahel region. The top five countries most similar to it were all colonized by France and still use French as one of their official languages. In addition, the majority of the people in these countries are Muslim. However, most of these countries have secular governments, unlike many Arab countries. These countries all happen to have some of the lowest standards of living in the world as well.
- Niger is located to the east of Mali. It is another landlocked in Africa that is mostly desert. Both countries were once part of the Songhai Empire. Although both countries have French as their official language, the native languages in Niger are completely different from those in Mali since they are not from the Niger-Congo language family. Both countries tend to eat a lot of millet and sorghum, although Malians tend to eat more rice as well.
- Burkina Faso borders both Mali and Niger. Both countries have a significant percentage of Fula people. There is little difference in the infrastructure between these two countries. Their governments are also similar. Although they are not especially democratic, they are also not dictatorships. They both have unicameral legislatures with many different parties represented. Mali and Burkina Faso also allow polygamy and unorganized prostitution. However, only 60% of Burkina Faso’s citizens are Muslim.
- Senegal and Mali were actually one country briefly in 1960, but much earlier in history Senegal was part of the Mali Empire. Their flags are also incredibly similar. Furthermore, their agriculture is similar as well since they both grow millet, rice, sorghum, and corn, but Mali grows less peanuts. However, Senegal is not landlocked and it also gets more rainfall. Another difference is that Senegal has a much higher rate of unemployment.
- Guinea is to the south of Mali. Both countries have many Mandé and Fula people. Guinea’s flag is also nearly identical to Mali’s except that the red and green are reversed. Both countries use a combination of hydropower and oil to create electricity. However, Guinea does not have a large percentage of desert land, like Mali. Another significant difference is that it does not use the West African CFA franc.
- Chad is yet another landlocked country located in the Sahara Desert on this list. Both countries are predominately Muslim, although Chad has a higher percentage of Christians. Furthermore, both countries were colonized by France, but Chad has a greater Arab influence. In fact, Arabic is one of its official languages. Chad was also not part of French West Africa, so it uses a different, albeit related, currency.
- Benin, 7. Gambia, 8. Ivory Coast, 9. Togo, 10. Cameroon
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Mali
The five least similar countries to Mali all border the Pacific Ocean. They also have a lot of coastline and they get far more rainfall. In addition, the infrastructure in these countries is much more developed. The majority of the people in four of the five least similar countries have East Asian ancestry. The people in these countries also tend to be less religious than Malians.
- Japan is by far the least similar country to Mali. In fact, they are two of the least similar pairs of countries in the world. Its geography is especially different, since it is a mountainous archipelago with a temperate climate and a lot of rainfall. Its demographics, culture, and technology are also quite different. There isn’t much in common between the two, except that the average height and weight of their people are similar.
- New Zealand is another mountainous, temperate archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, like Japan. It is much wealthier and more developed than Mali. However, both countries do use the Latin alphabet, although their native languages are unrelated. New Zealand’s laws are also much more liberal than Mali, since it allows same sex marriage or the possession of pornography.
- Taiwan‘s climate is hotter than Japan, since it is closer to the equator, but its climate is still much wetter than Mali. The diet of Taiwanese people is especially different from Mali, since they eat more fruits, meat, and rice. It is also a densely populated and mountainous island, in contrast to landlocked Mali.
- South Korea is yet another East Asian country with little in common with Mali, however it does have a few more things in common than Japan and Taiwan. Similar to Mali, most South Koreans are circumcised. South Korea also drives on the right side of the road and uses Type C electrical outlets. However, their infrastructure is much more developed than Mali. One of the most striking differences is that South Korea has the highest percentage of college graduates in the world, while less than 50% of people are literate in Mali.
- Singapore is a small densely populated island in Southeast Asia. Like New Zealand, it was once a colony of Great Britain before becoming independent. Most of its people have Chinese ancestry. Despite being surrounded by Muslim countries, only 15% of its people are Muslim and it is quite religiously diverse. Still, its infrastructure is more developed and has different standards. The country drives on the left side of the road and uses Type G electrical outlets.
- United Kingdom, 7. Canada, 8. Norway, 9. Netherlands, 10. Ireland
Mali is like if Niger was more like Burkina Faso
According to the Index, Niger is the most similar country to Mali. However, there are a few differences between these countries. Burkina Faso is one country that has many of the traits of Mali that Niger lacks. Unlike Niger, most people in Mali and Burkina Faso speak Niger-Congo languages. They also both allow polygamy and also unorganized prostitution, unlike Niger.