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 Norway
Norway is a European country. The four most similar countries to it are mostly Protestant, but they are also some of the least religious countries in the world. With the exception of Finland, most of their people natively speak Germanic languages as well. In addition, their governments tend to be very democratic and liberal. They tend to have many entitlements for their citizens. Furthermore, they are also some of the most prosperous and well developed countries.
- Sweden and Norway were a united country for nearly 100 years, until Norway declared independence in 1905. The countries have similar geography, although Sweden is less mountainous. Both countries are constitutional monarchies with similar egalitarian laws and generous welfare benefits. Sweden and Norway are the two most successful countries at the Olympics in cross-country skiing. While both countries enjoy soccer and handball, Sweden is more interested than Norway in ice hockey.
- Denmark and Norway were also a united country until 1814, but they were united much longer than Norway and Sweden. Danish was the official language in Norway for many years and therefore it is extremely similar to Bokmål Norwegian. Both languages use the same alphabet. However, Denmark’s geography is quite different from Norway, since it is extremely flat, has a far greater percentage of agricultural land, and a more temperate climate. Still, both countries have a lot of coastline.
- Iceland and Norway’s demographics are nearly identical, in part due to the fact that Iceland was settled by Norwegians. Both countries use a lot of energy and primarily rely upon hydroelectricity to produce it. They are also mountainous and have a lot of coastline. Their legislatures are unicameral and their governments have similar laws, although Iceland does not have a monarch.
- Finland is yet another Nordic country on this list. However, one big difference is that Finnish is not an Indo-European language, so it is unrelated to Norwegian. Although both countries tend to have quite cool climates and are sparsely populated, Finland is not mountainous. Another difference is that Finland does not use the same railroad gauge as Norway, although their infrastructure is otherwise fairly similar.
- Germany another is country that borders the North Sea, but it has far less coastline and its climate is more temperate. A lot of Norway’s military equipment is made in Germany. One difference is that Germany has more Catholics, although neither country is especially religious. Also, Germany does not have nearly as many dams and does not rely on hydropower to create electricity.
- Netherlands, 7. United Kingdom, 8. Austria, 9. Switzerland, 10. Luxembourg
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Norway
The five least similar countries to Norway are in Africa. In addition, most people in these countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Furthermore, four of the five least similar countries are mostly Muslim. Although they are relatively in close proximity to Norway and are also sparsely populated, their climate is much hotter and drier. In addition, these countries have a far lower standard of living and their laws are much more conservative.
- Somalia borders the Indian Ocean. It is an anarchic, war-torn, Muslim country. Due to civil war, Somalia has a low standard of living and little infrastructure. Norway has many cars and trains, while Somalia does not even have a railroad in use. However, both countries do use the Latin alphabet and have a lot of coastline.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, so its climate is much hotter and drier than Norway’s. Most people speak a dialect of Arabic there. It is another poor Muslim country, like others on this list, that has recently experienced internal conflicts. As a result, it lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its laws are especially conservative, since it does not allow alcohol, abortion, same sex relationships, or prostitution.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. It is yet another African country on this list. The country has both Arabic and French as official languages and it has a mix of Muslims and Christians living there. Although both countries drive on the right and use Type C electrical outlets, Chad’s infrastructure is far less developed than Norway.
- Eritrea is located on the Red Sea, next to Sudan. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population. However, they are mostly Oriental Orthodox and have a large Muslim population as well. In addition, it is extremely poor and its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. Furthermore, it uses the unique Ge’ez script for writing.
- Niger is next to Chad. It is another former French colony that is located in the Sahara Desert. Not only is it landlocked but its terrain is fairly flat in stark contrast to Norway. Furthermore, it has the youngest average population in the world and the highest birthrate. However, since French is its official language, both countries use the Latin alphabet.
- Mali, 7. Yemen, 8. South Sudan 9. Gambia, 10. Mauritania
Norway is like if Sweden was more like Iceland
According to the Index, Sweden is the most similar country to Norway. However, there are still a few differences between them. The data shows that Iceland has many traits of Norway that Sweden lacks. According to the Lewis Index, Norwegians and Icelanders tend to be more outgoing than the Swedes. In addition, Norway and Iceland are less densely forested and more of their land is tundra. Unlike Sweden, Norway and Iceland’s farms primarily produce barley. They also both border the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
All data accurate as of 2020.