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 New Zealand
New Zealand is a former British colony, located in the South Pacific. With the exception of Australia, its five most similar countries are located far away from it, unlike most countries. They were all part of the United Kingdom at one time or another so they share similar traits. They are predominately White, English-speaking countries. Furthermore, most of their people are Christian, although they tend to not be particularly religious. Moreover, these countries are democracies and tend to have very well developed infrastructure.
- Australia is by far the most similar country to New Zealand. Australia even asked New Zealand to be one of its states when it was formed. Due to the Trans-Tasman agreement citizens of both countries can live and work in either country. Both countries drive on the left side of the road and have many cars per capita. They also both use Type I electrical outlets. Although both countries border the Pacific Ocean, Australia’s climate is much drier and also has hotter temperatures. In addition, New Zealand is much more mountainous.
- United Kingdom colonized New Zealand, so it is no wonder that they are high on this list as well. In fact of all the former British colonies, New Zealand is the most similar country to it. Although it is on the opposite side of the world, it has significant geographical similarities to Britain since they are both islands with temperate climates. Most of their farms grow either barley or wheat. Still, the UK is more densely populated and less mountainous.
- Ireland also has similar culture and demographics to New Zealand in part because of its high degree of similarity to Britain. Both countries have a lot of pastures for livestock. However, unlike other English speaking countries on this list, Ireland is mostly Catholic. Furthermore, the Irish are more outgoing than Kiwis, who are generally more reserved according to the Lewis Model. In addition, while both countries enjoy rugby, New Zealanders are more interested in cricket.
- Canada is another former British colony, but is located in North America. Both countries are sparsely populated but Canada is much colder. In addition, both are highly urbanized. However, Canada also has a significant amount of native French speakers concentrated in Quebec. However, Canada has adopted American infrastructure standards, like driving on the right side, uses Type A, B electrical outlets, and 120v supply voltage. Its people are also more interested in ice hockey, while few of its people follow cricket or rugby.
- United States is similar to Canada, but it is even further different from the rest of the former British colonies, since it became independent much earlier. The government of the United States has some differences with New Zealand’s, since it has a bicameral legislature and does not have the Queen of the UK as its head of state. Furthermore, the US has far less restrictive gun control laws and prohibits prostitution unlike New Zealand.
- Norway, 7. Sweden, 8. Iceland, 9. Denmark, 10. Germany
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to New Zealand
Four of the five least similar countries to New Zealand are located in Africa. They all have hot, dry climates as well. Most people in these countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages as well. The four least similar countries are mostly Muslim and have more conservative laws. They are also less democratic. Furthermore, their standard of living is also much lower than New Zealand’s.
- Niger is is a relatively flat, landlocked African country, located in the Sahara Desert. Its demographics are quite different from New Zealand, since it is the youngest country in the world and has an extremely high birth rate. However, one similarity is that both countries use the Latin alphabet, since Niger was once a French colony and still has French as their official language.
- Mauritania borders the Atlantic Ocean and is located in the Sahara Desert, so its landscape is mostly barren. The country is Muslim so it has much more conservative laws than New Zealand. Most Mauritanians natively speak a dialect of Arabic, although since it was once a French colony, French is also used there.
- Chad is yet another country on this list that is mostly Muslim, although it also has a significant amount of Christians as well. It is landlocked and located in the Sahara Desert. The country’s infrastructure is especially far different from New Zealand’s, since it drives on the right and uses Type C electrical outlets. It also does not have a railroad and few people have cars there. Furthermore, the country was ruled by a dictator for decades.
- Yemen borders the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is an anarchic Muslim country that is currently in civil war. Unlike other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, its infrastructure is not as well developed. It also has much less restrictive gun control laws. Still, most people in both Yemen and New Zealand are considered to be Caucasian.
- Eritrea also borders the Red Sea. It is a totalitarian one-party dictatorship and has poorly developed infrastructure, in contrast to New Zealand. However, it is the only country on this list that has a majority Christian population, although they are mostly Orthodox. New Zealanders tend to be far less religious as well. Eritrea also uses the unique Ge’ez script for most of their writing.
- Somalia, 7. Mali, 8. Sudan, 9. Ethiopia, 10. Afghanistan
New Zealand is like if Australia was more like Norway
While Australia is by far the most similar country to New Zealand, they do have significantly differences in their geography. Although Norway is in Europe, it has many of the geographical characteristics of New Zealand that Australia lacks. Norway and New Zealand are more mountainous than Australia. They also have cooler climates with significantly more rainfall. Furthermore, both countries primarily use hydropower to create electricity. They also both have unicameral legislatures.
All data accurate as of 2020.