Portugal’s Most Similar Countries

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.

Portugal is a European country. Many countries in the region are like it. The five most similar countries to Portugal border the Mediterranean Sea, even though Portugal does not. In addition, these countries are democracies that are part of the European Union. With the exception of Croatia, they all use the Euro as currency as well. In addition, four of the top five countries are mostly Catholic.

Although Brazil speaks Portuguese, it did not even make the list of top 10 countries, since there are significant differences between them besides language. Brazil has large swathes of sparsely populated rainforests, in contrast to the chaparral landscape of Portugal. Furthermore, Brazil has a high amount of racial diversity, unlike Portugal. It is also less developed and poorer. Moreover, it has significantly more conservative laws.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to Portugal

  1. Spain is Portugal’s only neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula, so both countries have a similar climate. They also share similar demographics and culture. Furthermore, in addition to driving on the same side of the road and using the same electrical outlets, they both use a unique railroad gauge that is not used anywhere else in Europe. One difference is that Portugal has a semi-presidential system of government, while Spain is a constitutional monarchy, however their laws are both extremely liberal.
  2. Italy is located across the Balearic Sea from Spain. Like Portugal, it grows and consumes a lot of wine. It also grows many olives. Both countries have beautiful beaches, athough Italy has a higher coastline to area ratio. Like Spain and Portugal, it is predominately Catholic and most of its people natively speak Romance languages. They also have low birth rates and a high number of elderly people.
  3. France and Portugal both have a semi-presidential system of government, since they both abolished their monarchies. Like Portugal and Italy, both countries grow and drink a lot of wine. However, Portugal eats less cheese than French. Since France is more northern, its average climate is not nearly as hot, so it has more wheat fields. Furthermore, according to the Lewis Model, the French tend to be less outgoing than Portuguese.
  4. Greece is the only country in the top five that is not Catholic. In addition, their language and writing system is quite different from Portuguese. However, there are some huge similarities as well. Their economic situations are worse than other EU members and they have high unemployment numbers. Portugal and Greece’s climates are similar and their predominant crop is olives. They both have similar laws and a unicameral legislature dominated by two parties.
  5. Croatia is yet another Catholic country that borders the Mediterranean on this list. One big difference is that its people natively speak Slavic languages. While Croatia is in the European Union, it has still not adopted the Euro. Both countries have extremely low birth rates and an aging population. Still, Croatians tend to be much taller. While both countries excel in soccer, Croatians tend to be more interested in basketball and handball.
  6. Slovenia, 7. Poland, 8. Belgium, 9. Romania, 10. Germany

The five least similar countries to Portugal are all located in Africa, despite its relative proximity to the continent. Most of their people natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. These countries all have dry climates and little agricultural or forested land as well. In addition, the five least similar countries have significant Muslim populations. Their laws are also significantly more conservative and their standard of living is lower.

Top 10 Places Least Similar to Portugal

  1. Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert and borders the Red Sea. Due to recent civil war, the country’s infrastructure and standard of living is quite low. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its laws are also extremely different, since it does not allow alcohol, abortion, gambling, or same sex marriage.
  2. Somalia borders the Indian Ocean. It is another anarchic, Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure due to civil war. It is another country with extremely conservative laws in contrast Portugal’s more liberal society. However, although Somali is not related to the Portuguese language, both countries use the Latin script.
  3. Eritrea is located between Sudan and Somalia. Although it is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, it is mostly Oriental Orthodox. Eritrea’s government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years. The country also uses the unique Ge’ez script for writing. However, most of the population in both countries lives close to the coast.
  4. Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert, located next to Sudan. Chad has a mix of European and Arab influences. Its official languages are French and Arabic. The country was run by an authoritarian dictator for many years. Still, despite being mostly Muslim, it is also about 40% Christian and 20% Catholic.
  5. Niger is located to the west of Chad. It is almost entirely Muslim. It is is one of the least developed countries in the world. In fact, it has the lowest average population age and the highest birth rate, in contrast to Portugal. The country is mostly barren desert. Still, since Niger was a French colony, it uses the Latin script.
  6. Yemen, 7. Mauritania, 8. South Sudan, 9. Papua New Guinea, 10. Afghanistan

Portugal is like if Spain was more like Brazil

Spain is by far the most similar country to Portugal. However, the biggest difference is that they do not speak the same language, although they are closely related. Therefore, Brazil is one country that is much more like Portugal than it is like Spain. Unlike Spain, their governments do not use the parliamentary form of government and have presidents instead. Furthermore, a lower percentage of their people completed college and they are also less affluent than Spain.

Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Portugal

Country Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Spain
Most Similar Culture: Brazil
Most Similar Government: Spain
Most Similar Infrastructure: Spain
Most Similar Geography: Spain

Least Similar Demographics: Niger
Least Similar Culture: Myanmar
Least Similar Government: Sudan
Least Similar Infrastructure: Haiti
Least Similar Geography: Solomon Islands

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

25 Comments

  1. I am frankly surprised to see so many Slavic countries so high up. As a Portuguese I feel the most similar country to Portugal would be Brazil but even in Europe I would have thought France and Italy are more similar to Portugal than Spain. And Romania definitely more so than Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. It puzzles me to see Luxembourg and Belgium there but not Andorra or San Marino or Monaco.

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    1. Anyone who thinks that Brazil is a mere extension of Portugal is mistaken. They are very different countries, even in the cultural aspect. The pronunciation of the Portuguese language in each country is very different and not even the writing is unified. In common only some habits, cultural traits and a common history. The rest is very different. There is no way for Brazil to be the country most similar to Portugal. Not only for geography, but for society (Brazilians are friendly and Portuguese are very closed), politics, urbanism and other aspects.

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  2. Not any Mediterranean countries for sure. Apart from geography they are all more illiberal and politically unstable than Portugal even the Euro-Med duo (France and “Spain”. I think we are closets to England and Galiza since by the criteria used here the obvious #1 (Brazil , of course) is a nonstarter. How does this caompare with England/Canada or England/Australia. Becayuse they are so sparsely populated and England is not and fairly democratic and US-like (whereas England is not) and a few people still believe in some religion (even if it’s the flavour of the month US loony Pentecostal one whereas in England fewer people believe in any religion at all but of those that do Catholics, Muslims and Hindus easily beat these US sects, denominations.

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    1. How do you say that the Mediterranean countries do not look like Portugal and say that Brazil looks more even though it is even more stable than the European countries in the region? It doesn’t make sense, Brazil is very different from Portugal in everything for everything, but the Portuguese don’t want to admit it because of a nationalist pride.

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  3. The most important Portuguese crop isn’t olive oil because it represents only 1% (in Ton/year) of the total agriculture production, of course that olive oil is a product more expensive than crude oil and so, in therms of value, it worth more than 1%. But, anyway, production of fruits and vegetables exceeds each one 30% and, for example, wine 11% or potatoes 6%… they all are more important than olive oil.

    Portuguese unemployment rate was never high and certainly was never as high as in the Mediterranean Countries, especially in Spain and Greece.

    Agree that Portugal does not overlaps with Brazil. Two totally different countries, different social approaches, different mindset, different climate, different landscape.

    Talking about landscape, I also have to say that Portugal is mainly forest: pine forest, eucalyptus forest and oaks of various families including cork oak. Portugal is lush and green most of the year and, gets more yellowish colors in the summer months, especially in the south. You are right, we do have a chaparral sort of landscape like in California but it is far from being our “trade mark”. That landscape is only typical of limestone regions like a small region in central western Portugal and in the Algarve, the rest are schist and granite regions where the dirt profile is deeper and retains more water and thus huge trees are allowed to grow.

    I think that in terms of mindset and stereotype, the Portuguese do not overlap as much with other Mediterraneans as Americans think. We do not share the Italian, Greek and most of Spanish way of loud talking and gesturing, especially when outside. We clearly do not overlap in the emotional departments, we prefer a low profile approach in our relationships. Some people say that it is the effect of the big Atlantic ocean in our personality and surely we are an Atlantic nation.

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    1. Thanks for your response. When comparing the agriculture of two countries in these studies, the % of agricultural land area is used. Olives groves represent that largest land area of any crop in Portugal, just like Greece and some other Mediterranean countries.

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  4. it is a surprise for me not to see Portugal and Brazil so close, the most likely is the political instability, climate, etc. I met Portuguese and they are very similar to Brazilians in all aspects, they say that the Brazilian is happy, but that does not define Brazil. If I left Brazil in several parts you will see that culturally Portugal is closer to the northeast, but in the way of life, I think they are closer to the south of Brazil.

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