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 the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a European country. Many countries in the region are similar to it. Germanic languages are widespread in the five most similar countries to the Netherlands. With the exception of Luxembourg, they all border the North Sea. These countries have a high level of development and their democratic governments also have relatively liberal laws. Four of the five most similar countries are democracies that still have monarchs, although they are primarily figureheads.
- Belgium and the Netherlands are two of the most similar countries, according to the Index. Belgium was once part of the Netherlands before it became completely independent in 1839. One reason it succeeded from the union is that it is mostly Catholic, unlike the Netherlands, however nowadays neither country is very religious. The biggest difference between them is language. Only about half of Belgiums speak Dutch natively, while the other half speak French.
- Germany and Netherlands were both originally part of the Holy Roman Empire. They have a mix of Catholics and Protestants but also have a high number of atheists and a minority population of Muslims. According to the Lewis Index, the typical personality of Dutch and German people is quite similar. Moreover, their laws are nearly identical. Both countries allow prostitution, same sex marriage, and abortion. One difference is that Germany no longer has a monarch as head of state.
- Denmark is another Germanic country that is extremely flat and has all of its land relatively close to the sea. Although both countries are part of the European Union, Denmark has not adopted the Euro as currency. Another difference is that Denmark is less densely populated and has about twice as much farmland as a percentage of its land. More of its land is devoted to growing barley, while potato farms are more common in the Netherlands.
- Luxembourg‘s head of state was the king of the Netherlands until 1890. It is one of the richest countries in the world and has a high level of development. Luxembourgish is a Germanic language that is similar to Dutch. One big difference is that Luxembourg is landlocked, so it does not nearly have the same amount of shipping infrastructure. While their climates are quite similar, Luxembourg tends to have more wheat fields.
- United Kingdom is just across the North Sea from the Netherlands. Both countries had considerable seafaring ability with their merchants establishing trading posts in distant locations. Over 90% of Dutch can speak English. Both countries are not very mountainous and are densely populated. However, there are some small technological differences, since Britain drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets. It also is not part of the European Union.
- France, 7. Ireland, 8. Austria, 9. Sweden, 10. Norway
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to the Netherlands
Four of the five least similar countries to the Netherlands are in close proximity to the Red Sea. These countries all have large Muslim populations as well. In addition, their hot desert climates and sparsely populated, barren landscapes are massively different from the Netherlands. Furthermore, the standard of living in all these countries is far lower and they are also less democratic.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert. It is predominately Muslim country and most of its people speak Arabic natively. Its infrastructure and standard of living have suffered due to recent civil war. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its laws are also far different since same sex marriage, prostitution, abortion, gambling, and alcohol are not allowed there.
- Eritrea borders Sudan. It is another country located on the Red Sea. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, but its people are part of the unique Oriental Orthodox denomination and more religious than the Dutch. Its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. Still, both countries do have a lot of land close to the coast.
- Yemen is across the Red Sea from Eritrea. Unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, it is poorly developed due to civil war. The country is also more mountainous than the Netherlands. While the Dutch are on average some of the tallest people in the world, Yemen is one of the shortest. Although both people in Yemen and in the Netherlands are considered to be Caucasian, their ancestries are still significantly different.
- Somalia is located in Africa across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. It is another anarchic, Muslim country with poorly developed infrastructure. It is very conservative, in contrast to more liberal Netherlands. However, despite the fact that Somali is completely unrelated to Dutch, both languages use the Latin alphabet.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert that has little development of its infrastructure. The country’s two official languages are French and Arabic. Like Eritrea, it also has a mix of Christians and Muslims. While the Netherlands has a dense railroad network, Chad does not even have a railroad in the entire country.
- Niger, 7. South Sudan, 8. Mali, 9. Laos, 10. Mauritania
The Netherlands is like if Belgium was more like the United Kingdom
According to the Index, Belgium is the most similar country to the Netherlands. However, the data shows that the United Kingdom has a few characteristics in common with the Netherlands that Belgium lacks. Both Netherlands and the United Kingdom have more Protestants and more native speakers of Germanic languages. Both countries once had a considerable amount of colonies spread across the world that enabled them to profit from trading.
All data accurate as of 2020.