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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
All data accurate as of 2020.
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