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 Places Most Similar to North Macedonia
North Macedonia is a European country. The five countries most similar to it were all once occupied by the Ottoman Empire at some point. The top four countries are all mostly Orthodox Christian and their people natively speak Southern Slavic languages. However, in addition to their Christian population, these countries have significant Muslim populations as well.
- Bulgaria is the only country in the European Union in the top five. It was not part of Yugoslavia, but it is still quite similar to North Macedonia. Bulgarian is the most similar language to Macedonian and some even consider it to be the same language. It addition they both use the Cyrillic writing system. Both countries like wrestling but Bulgaria has been more successful at the Olympics.
- Serbia is located just to the north of North Macedonia. It is another landlocked country that was once part of Yugoslavia. The people in both countries are mostly Orthodox Christians. Their infrastructure is nearly identical. Both countries use a mix of hydropower and coal to create electricity. There is not a big difference in their governments either, although Serbia is not part of NATO.
- Montenegro is another former Yugoslavian country that is mostly Orthodox Christian, but also has many Muslims. Montenegro also has a parliamentary form of government, with the head of state elected by popular vote. Their laws are also significantly similar. However, Montenegro’s agriculture is quite different, since a large portion of their land is devoted to growing figs and grapes. It is also not landlocked.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina is also a mix of both Christians and Muslims. Still, it has more Catholics and less Albanians. Both countries generate power mostly with coal. Due to their mountainous terrain, they both also have many dams, which are used as water reservoirs and also create electricity. Bosnia’s government is also unique since it has an unusual presidency that rotates periodically between a Croat, Serb, and Bosniak.
- Albania is located to the west of North Macedonia. Albanian is actually one of the official languages of North Macedonia, since over 25% of its people are Albanian. Still, the Albanian language is far different from Macedonian. It also has a significant number of Christians, but they are mostly Catholic. Albania’s climate is very similar to Macedonia and both countries are quite mountainous. However, Albania has a lot of coastline.
- Croatia, 7. Romania, 8. Slovakia, 9. Slovenia, 10. Ukraine
Kosovo was not included in this list because many major statistics gathering organizations include it with Serbia. There simply is not enough data gathered to make a comparison, although it very well have might made the list.
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Top 10 Places Least Similar to North Macedonia
Few countries are extremely different from North Macedonia, in part because it has a mix of Christians and Muslims. It also is neither an extremely wealthy or poor country. Three of the least similar countries to it are located around the Red Sea, while the two others are located in Melanesia. All these countries have a lower standard of living than North Macedonia.
- Papua New Guinea is located in the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world, in contrast to North Macedonia. A large portion of the country is forested. However, both countries are quite mountainous. Both countries are also mostly Christian, but Papua New Guinea is mostly Protestant. Its infrastructure is significantly different as well. It drives on the left side of the road and uses Type I electrical outlets.
- Solomon Islands is very similar to Papua New Guinea. The heavily forested tropical rainforest nation shares few things in common with North Macedonia, but it is lower on this list than Papua New Guinea primarily because it has a higher standard of living. In contrast to North Macedonia it is a group of islands, where everyone lives close to the coast, but both are mountainous.
- Somalia is an African country that borders the Indian Ocean. The country’s standard of living and infrastructure have suffered since it is currently in a civil war. Its climate is much hotter and drier. A low percentage of its land is used for agriculture. Somalia also has a lot more coastline and is not as mountainous.
- Niger is located in the middle of the Sahara Desert. It was once a French colony before becoming independent, so it uses French as its official language. Its people natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. The country has the youngest average population in the world, in contrast to North Macedonia’s aging population. It is also one of the least developed countries in the world.
- Chad is another landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. It was also colonized by France, but uses both French and Arabic as official languages now. Although it is mostly Muslim, it also does have a significant Christian population as well, although few are Orthodox Christians. Its government has been run by a dictator for decades, so it is significantly less democratic as well.
- Sudan, 7. Yemen, 8. Eritrea, 9. Singapore, 10. Cambodia
North Macedonia is like if Bulgaria was more like Albania
Bulgaria is the most similar country to North Macedonia, according to the Index. However these countries also have a few significant differences. Albania is one country that has significantly more in common with North Macedonia than it does with Bulgaria. A significant percentage of North Macedonia’s population is Albanian and Albanian is even one of its official languages. In addition, Bulgaria is wealthier than North Macedonia and Albania.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to North Macedonia
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Bulgaria
Most Similar Culture: Bulgaria
Most Similar Government: Montenegro
Most Similar Infrastructure: Serbia
Most Similar Geography: Serbia
Least Similar Demographics: Laos
Least Similar Culture: Myanmar
Least Similar Government: Saudi Arabia
Least Similar Infrastructure: Haiti
Least Similar Geography: Bahrain