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 Russia
Russia is in the North Eurasia region. Four of the five most similar countries to Russia were once part of the Soviet Union. Most were part of the Russian Empire at one time or another too. With the exception of Latvia, they all use the Cyrillic alphabet. Their infrastructure is similar as well. They all use Type C, F electrical outlets and drive on the right side of the road. In addition, four of the five use the Russian railroad track gauge. These countries also tend to have high levels of atheism and many irreligious people, due to their government’s oppression of religion in the past.
- Belarus was a former member of the Soviet Union and retains more ties to Russia than others. Citizens of both countries can move freely between them and also work. Belarus also has the highest percentage of Russian speakers outside of Russia. The biggest difference is that most of Belarus is agricultural land, while Russia is far more sparsely populated and has more wilderness.
- Ukraine had been part of the Russian Empire for over 100 years, even before it became part of the Soviet Union. Their demographics, culture, and technology are all quite similar, even though diplomatic relations between the two countries at this point have broken down significantly. Like Ukraine, the biggest difference between the countries is geography, although they border each other.
- Kazakhstan, like Ukraine, had been part of the Russian Empire for over 100 years. Both countries still maintain significant economic and military ties. The biggest difference between Russia and Kazakhstan is the ethnicity of its people. Kazakhs are Turkic people who practice Islam. However, there still are a large amount of Russians living in Kazakhstan and Russian is still an official language there. Their governments are quite similar as well. Both countries are sparsely populated, but Kazakhstan has a warmer and drier climate.
- Serbia is the only country on this list that was not part of the Soviet Union. Most Russians and Serbians speak Slavic languages and are Orthodox Christians. They also both use the Cyrillic alphabet, although Serbian can be written in the Latin script as well. Their laws are also similar. Both do not allow same sex marriage or prostiution. They also do allow abortion. One difference is that Serbia has a parliamentary system of government with a unicameral legislature.
- Latvia was also part of the Soviet Union, before it became independent. It is now part of the European Union. The country is located between the Baltic Sea and Russia. It is a diverse mix of Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians, although both Latvia and Russia are not very religious. However, in general, Latvians are less outgoing than Russians. In addition, it has a higher level of development and is now part of the European Union and NATO.
- Lithuania, 7. Bulgaria, 8. Romania, 9. Montenegro, 10. Slovakia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Russia
The least similar to Russia countries come from primarily two different places. Melanesia has little similarity, despite the fact that both countries are predominately Christian. Another group of countries with little similarity to Russia are predominately Muslim countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. These countries all tend to be far less developed than Russia. Their average temperatures are much warmer as well.
- Solomon Islands is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Unlike Russia, which has one of the strongest militaries in the world, Solomon Islands doesn’t even have a military. The islands also need to import all their energy in the form of oil, while Russia relies on domestically produced natural gas. The country is also more democratic and uses the parliamentary system of government. However, both countries are mostly Christian.
- Sierra Leone is an African country on the Atlantic Coast. It was originally created by the British as a place for freed slaves to settle. It is especially different from Russia demographically. Its people are much skinnier and shorter than Russians on average. In addition, it has a high rate of poverty. The country is predominately Muslim and more religious than Russia. The diet of people in Sierra Leone is especially dissimilar since they mostly eat rice and cassava.
- Gambia is another predominately Muslim former British colony in Africa. The country is densely populated and its land is concentrated along the Gambia River. Like other countries on this list, its climate is far hotter than Russia, although they get about the same amount of rainfall. The country also has a much higher birth rate and few elderly people in contrast to Russia.
- Somalia is located in Africa on the Indian Ocean coast. It is conservative Muslim country. The country has been at civil war, so its infrastructure is not well developed. In contrast to Russia’s subarctic taiga, it is located in a tropical desert. Still, both countries are sparsely populated and have a lot of coastline.
- Papua New Guinea is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world. Its people have little in common demographically or culturally with Russia. Furthermore, although its people are Christians, they are generally Protestants and more religious. In addition, its technology is far different from Russia’s, since it drives on the left, uses Type I electrical outlets, and has no railroads in use.
- Bangladesh, 7. Malawi, 8. Niger, 9. Guinea-Bissau, 10. Liberia
Russia is like if Belarus was more like Canada
Belarus is by far the most similar country to Russia. Geography is the biggest difference between these countries, despite the fact that they border each other. Canada’s geography much more closely resembles Russia, although they are not especially similar countries in other respects. These countries are less densely populated and have colder climates than Belarus. Much more of their landscape is covered with coniferous forests and they have a far lower percentage of agricultural land. The both border the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean, while Belarus is landlocked. Much of their land is covered with freshwater lakes.
All data accurate as of 2020.