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.
Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia. Very few countries are similar to it. Buddhism is widespread in the five most similar countries. With the exception of Vietnam, they use writing systems that have their origins in the Brahmic script. They also all have tropical climates and their farms produce a significant amount of rice. Furthermore, most people in the region have ancestries originating in East Asia.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Myanmar
- Cambodia is another country that practices Theravada Buddhism. Both countries have about the same GDP per capita and a similar population density. They both purchase many of their weapons from China and use Chinese-made battle tanks. However, Cambodia was also once part of French Indochina, not British India, so it has a greater French influence than Myanmar. It is also far less mountainous.
- Laos is another rural and mountainous country in Southeast Asia. Both countries lack a high level of development and create most of their electricity using hydropower. Most of the people in Laos and Cambodia are farmers. Like Cambodia, Laos was part of French Indochina. While both countries practice Theravada Buddhism, many Laotians also practice local folk religions.
- Thailand borders Myanmar to the east. In the 1500’s, both countries were part of the Toungoo Empire. Thailand’s culture is significantly similar to Myanmar’s, although their languages are unrelated. Another difference is that Thailand is much more prosperous and developed. Both countries grow a lot of rice, although a far greater percentage of Thailand is used for agriculture, since it is not as mountainous.
- Vietnam is another Buddhist country in Southeast Asia, but it differs significantly from the top three countries since its people follow Mahayana tradition. In addition, its people are less religious than Burmese due to its Communist government’s influence. Vietnamese also uses the Latin script, instead of a Indic script, unlike the other Southeast Asian countries. Although both countries have a lot of coastline, Vietnam’s is on the Pacific Ocean.
- Bhutan borders both China and India, like Myanmar. Most people in these countries speak Sino-Tibetan languages. They are also both mostly Buddhist, although Bhutanese follow the Vajrayana tradition. Even though both countries use Brahmic scripts, Bhutan’s is a North Indic script, not a South Indic script. Their governments are also different since Bhutan uses the parliamentary system and has a monarch as their head of state.
- Indonesia, 7. Sri Lanka, 8. Malaysia, 9. Philippines, 10. Bangladesh
The five least similar countries to Myanmar are all European countries and are predominately Christian. They all use the Latin script and four of the five primarily speak Germanic languages. In addition, these countries have a much higher standard of living and are more democratic than Myanmar. Their climates are all much colder as well.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Myanmar
- Iceland has a much lower percentage of forests and agricultural land than Myanmar. It also is much more sparsely populated. It is a mostly Protestant country, although it is not especially religious. Iceland also uses far more electricity per capita than Myanmar, although both countries do create most of it through hydropower. Both countries are also mountainous.
- Luxembourg is a landlocked country in Western Europe. It is relatively flat and also quite densely populated. The country is one of the wealthiest in the world. A high percentage of its people are college graduates. It is mostly Catholic. The country has three official languages: Luxembourgish, German, and French.
- Finland is quite flat and has many freshwater lakes, unlike Myanmar. It is one of the most democratic countries in the world. It is sparsely populated and heavily forested. Their diet is especially different from Myanmar, since it is heavy in potatoes and wheat products. Furthermore, its climate is also far colder than Myanmar’s.
- Netherlands is extremely flat, low-lying, and densely populated in contrast to Myanmar. The Netherlands is also far less religious and has more liberal laws than in Myanmar. While Myanmar uses the presidential system of government, the Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch as its head of state.
- Denmark is another country that borders the North Sea. Like the Netherlands, it is not very mountainous. It is a mostly Protestant country, although it is not especially religious. The country is located on a peninsula, so it has a lot of coastline. Furthermore, its government provides far more entitlements for its citizens than Myanmar, since it has free healthcare, tuition free college, and unemployment benefits.
- Belgium, 7. Germany, 8. Canada, 9. United States, 10. Switzerland
Myanmar is like if Cambodia was more like Bhutan
According to the Index, the most similar country to Myanmar is Cambodia. However, these countries also have some significant differences. The data indicates that Bhutan has many traits of Myanmar that Cambodia lacks. Most of the people in both countries speak Sino-Tibetan languages. They are also more mountainous than Cambodia. Moreover, Myanmar and Bhutan have more restrictions on abortion than Cambodia.
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