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 Philippines
The Philippines is a country in Insular Southeast Asia. However, few countries in the region have a high degree of similarity to it. This is in part because the Philippines was colonized by both Spain and later the United States, leading to its highly unique character. The five most similar countries to the Philippines are all located on mountainous tropical islands. Most people in four of the five most similar countries natively speak Austronesian languages. Interestingly enough, four of the ten most similar countries are in Latin America.
- Indonesia‘s geography is very similar to the Philippines. It is also composed of densely populated tropical islands with many volcanos. Their people have relatively similar demographics and standard of living. In addition, rice is the most commonly grown crop in both countries. However, the biggest difference between the Philippines and Indonesia is religion. Most Filipinos are Catholic, while Indonesians are predominately Sunni Muslims. This difference creates divergent culture and politics.
- Malaysia is highly similar to Indonesia. However it is lower on this list because it has higher standard of living than both Indonesia and the Philippines. It also has more of a British influence, since it had once been one of its colonies, so it drives on left and uses Type G electrical outlets. Unlike the Philippines, it is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. Furthermore, a large percentage of Malaysia’s population is ethnically Chinese.
- Samoa is a group of tropical islands in Polynesia. It is another country that natively speaks an Austronesian language, but also has English as one of their official languages. However, Samoa was once a colony of New Zealand, not the United States, so its culture and infrastructure is more similar to New Zealand. Like Filipinos, Samoans are mostly Christian, but they have more Protestants and less Catholics.
- Dominican Republic, like the Philippines, had periods of being colonized by both Spain and the United States. So it is no surprise that the Dominican Republic would be high on this list, despite being in North America. Both countries are mostly Catholic and have few atheists. They also share American traits like using 911 for emergencies, driving on the right side of the road, and having Type A, B electrical outlets. In addition, both countries have a relatively similar standard of living.
- East Timor is the only other predominately Catholic country in Asia, since it was formerly a colony of Portugal. It gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002. However, its people have a greater degree of Melanesian ancestry than Filipinos. In addition, English is not in widespread use in East Timor. While both countries tend to eat a lot of rice, people in East Timor tend to eat more corn.
- Vanuatu, 7. Vietnam, 8. Panama, 9. Guatemala, 10. Colombia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to the Philippines
The four least similar countries to the Philippines are all Nordic countries. Not only is their climate much colder than the Philippines, but they are much wealthier and their infrastructure is better developed. Although these countries are predominately Christian, unlike the Philippines, they are mostly Protestant and much less religious. These countries are also far more sparsely populated and their cities tend to have less skyscrapers and high-rises.
- Finland‘s geography is quite cold, relatively flat, and has a lot of freshwater lakes. It also has a much higher standard of living. While both countries are Christian, Finland is Protestant and much less religious, like other Nordic countries. It uses the parliamentary form of government and its laws are less conservative than laws in the Philippines.
- Iceland is a well developed but sparsely populated country, in contrast to the Philippines. Not only are their demographics and culture quite different from Philippines, but also their geography. Iceland’s climate is much colder and hardly any of their land is used for agriculture. Iceland also uses far more electricity and creates much of it by using geothermal energy. Still, both countries are mountainous islands.
- Sweden is similar to its neighbor to the east, Finland. Its demographics, culture, geography, technology, and politics are all fairly different from the Philippines. Its government is also much more liberal and also less authoritarian. Sweden is also does far better in the Olympics. Furthermore, its people are more interested in ice hockey and soccer, while people in the Philippines are more interested in basketball.
- Norway is yet another wealthy Nordic country on this list. Its demographics are extremely different to the Philippines. Its people are much taller and heavier. Furthermore, its government has more entitlements for its citizens, like tuition free college and welfare for the unemployed. However, the country’s long coastline and relatively mountainous geography pushes it slightly lower down on this list relative to the other Nordic countries.
- Libya is a country located in North Africa. It is located in the Sahara Desert so its climate is much drier than the Philippines. It is also significantly less densely populated. Furthermore, Libya’s terrain is relatively flat. Unlike the Philippines, it is mostly Muslim. Since the official language is Arabic, unlike other countries on this list, it does not use the Latin alphabet.
- Saudi Arabia, 7. Switzerland, 8. Luxembourg, 9. Kuwait, 10. Yemen
The Philippines is like if Indonesia was more like Belize
According to the Index, Indonesia is the most similar country to the Philippines. However, these countries have some significant differences as well. The data shows that Belize is one country that has many characteristics of the Philippines that Indonesia lacks. English is the official language in both Belize and the Philippines. Furthermore, they have a higher percentage of Catholics and Christians than Indonesia. In addition, their infrastructure is similar. Both countries drive on the right side of the road and use Type A, B electrical outlets, unlike Indonesia. In addition, their legal systems both have elements of Common Law.
All data accurate as of 2020.