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.
Panama is a Latin American country. Many countries in the region are similar to it, in part due to its central location between Central and South America. The five most similar countries speak Spanish and are predominately Catholic. They also have similar governments that use the presidential system. Four of the five countries border the Caribbean Sea. Their infrastructure is similar as well. They all drive on the right side of the road and use Type A, B electrical outlets.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Panama
- Costa Rica, like its neighbor to the north, is one of the few countries without a military and both countries are strong allies of the United States. Panama and Costa Rica are also two of the most prosperous Central American countries. Both countries primarily use hydroelectricity to create power. One big difference is that Panama has many more skyscrapers.
- Colombia is the only South American country that borders both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Panama was once part of Colombia, before achieving independence in 1903 with the help of the United States. It shares similar culture, demographics, and standard of living with Panama. Its agriculture is also similar. Both countries produce a lot of coffee, rice, and sugarcane. They also have a high percentage of forested land. One difference is that Colombia has one of the largest armies in the Western Hemisphere.
- Nicaragua is yet another country that borders both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea on this list. In fact, there are plans to build a canal between the two, just like in Panama. However, Panama is more prosperous and it has far more skyscrapers. Furthermore, while Nicaragua has close relations with Russia, in contrast Panama has the closest ties with the United States of any Central American country.
- Dominican Republic is not in Central America, but it has many of the same traits as Panama. Both countries have been heavily influenced by the United States. They use 911 for emergencies and Type A & B electrical outlets. They also produce many baseball players. Panama also has the highest percentage of people with African ancestry in Spanish-speaking Central America. However, Dominican Republic is not as wealthy and its infrastructure is less developed.
- El Salvador is another country in the Central American Integration System, like Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Both countries have adopted the United States Dollar as their legal currency. Neither country allows same sex marriage or polygamy. However, El Salvador does not allow abortions. Furthermore, it has a much higher murder rate and suicide rate. It also has less people with African ancestry than Panama.
- Honduras 7. Ecuador, 8. Venezuela, 9. Guatemala, 10. Mexico
The five least similar countries to Panama all are mostly Muslim. In addition, four of the five use the Arabic script. These countries also have a much lower standard of living than Panama. Their governments are less democratic and more anarchic. Their climates are also noticeably drier than Panama’s. Most people in four of the five least similar countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Panama
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert and borders the Red Sea. It is a conservative Muslim country that does not allow alcohol, gambling, or prostitution. The majority of its people natively speak Arabic. Its government is lead by the military, following a recent coup. In contrast, Panama does not even have a military.
- Yemen is located in the Arabian Desert across the Red Sea from Sudan. It is another impoverished Arabic-speaking country with little demographic, cultural, or technological similarity to Panama. Still, both countries are located along major shipping routes, although Yemen has little shipping infrastructure.
- Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Asia. The majority of its people are Muslim, however the people of both countries do natively speak Indo-European languages. Still, Afghanistan uses the Arabic script. Like other countries on this list its climate is much drier than Panama. While soccer and baseball are the most popular sports in Panama, cricket is the most popular sport in Afghanistan.
- Somalia is another country in Africa on this list. Its governmental policies, influenced by its Muslim population, are extremely conservative, compared to more liberal policies in Panama. In addition, the countries are on opposite ends of the precipitation scale, as Panama is a rainforest, while Somalia is quite dry. Still, both countries use the Latin alphabet, despite the fact that their languages are completely unrelated.
- Chad is yet another landlocked country on this list. It was once a French colony and its official languages are French and Arabic. The diet of its people is especially different from Panama, since they tend to eat a lot of sorghum and millet. However, although Chad is mostly Muslim, it also has a sizable Christian population as well.
- Niger, 7. North Korea, 8. Eritrea, 9. Libya, 10. Pakistan
Panama is like if Costa Rica was more like Colombia
Costa Rica is by far the most similar country to Panama, according to the Index. Colombia is one country that is slightly more like Panama than it is like Costa Rica. This is not surprising, since Panama is located in between these two countries. Panama was once just a province of Colombia, before it became independent. Baseball is more popular in these countries than in Costa Rica. There also tends to be less rule of law in Panama and Colombia. Furthermore, the cities in these countries tend to have more skyscrapers than in Costa Rica’s.
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