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 Rwanda
Rwanda is a country in the Tropical Africa region. The top five countries most similar to Rwanda are all located around the African Great Lakes. In addition, four of the top five have English as one of their official languages. Most people in these countries speak Bantu languages as well. They also are all predominately Christian, although Tanzania also has a large Muslim population. Furthermore, the infrastructure in these countries is not highly developed.
- Burundi and Rwanda are two of the most similar countries, according to the Index. They were once a single territory ruled by Belgium called Ruanda-Urundi until 1960. The languages they natively speak there are mutually intelligible. Their geography is also incredibly similar. They are both densely populated countries with about the same climate and amount of land. One difference is that most signs in Burundi are in French, not English, although Rwanda also has French as one of its official languages.
- Uganda is located to the north of Rwanda. Both countries have nearly an equal mix of Protestants and Catholics. Furthermore, a high percentage of the land in both countries is used for agriculture and they both grow beans, corn, sorghum, and sweet potato. Uganda and Rwanda have also received significant military aid and equipment from Russia. However, Rwanda was not a British colony so it did not adopt driving on drive the right side of the road or common law in its legal system. Still, both have English as one of their official languages.
- Tanzania is another country that has English and Swahili as official languages. The countries were both part of German East Africa before World War II. Both countries rely on a mix of natural gas and hydropower to create electricity. Their people also drink a relatively large amount of homemade liqueur. However, Tanzania is not landlocked. It also has a much higher percentage of Muslims and allows polygamy.
- Malawi is another densely populated, landlocked country located in the Great Rift Valley. Both countries have English as one of their official languages. Their demographics are also similar. Both have a high rate of poverty and most of their people are farmers. They also have more females than males. However, Malawi is far more democratic than Rwanda. It also has a higher percentage of Protestants.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is another former colony of Belgium, located to the west of Rwanda. Both countries use Type C electrical outlets and drive on the right side of the road. There are some political similarities as well. Both countries have bicameral legislatures ruled by one party and are not very democratic. They also have essentially the same legal system. However, the country is much more sparsely populated and is more heavily forested.
- Cameroon, 7. Zambia, 8. Republic of Congo, 9. Central African Republic, 10. Togo
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Rwanda
The least similar countries to Rwanda have a higher level of development and are democracies. The three least similar countries are located in East Asia, while the other two are Nordic countries. With the exception of Taiwan, they all have much colder climates than Rwanda. Four of the five are located on islands, in contrast to Rwanda. In addition, these countries tend to be much less religious than Rwanda.
- Japan is by far the least similar country to Rwanda. Its demographics, culture, and infrastructure are especially different. There just isn’t much in common between the two, except that they are both mountainous and get about the same amount of rainfall. Its infrastructure is especially different since it drives on the left, uses Type A, B electrical outlets, and a different TV broadcast standard.
- Taiwan is yet another Asian country located in the Pacific Ocean on this list. Like Japan and South Korea, its demographics and culture are quite different from Rwanda. Its laws are especially different because it does not allow gambling, but allows same sex marriage. However, Taiwan’s subtropical climate is more similar to Rwanda than Japan and South Korea.
- South Korea is another country with a temperate climate also located in East Asia. It is a highly developed country with a lot of coastline. However, unlike Japan and Taiwan, South Korea does have a significant Christian population. It also drives on the right and uses Type C electrical outlets. Still, these countries have little else in common.
- Finland is the least similar country to Rwanda that is mostly Christian. Still, it is much less religious than Rwanda. Both countries have a lot of their territory taken up by freshwater lakes. Still, it is much more sparsely populated and heavily forested than Rwanda. Its government is also far more liberal and democratic. Furthermore, its climate is much colder.
- Iceland is located on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most northern countries, while Rwanda is close to the equator. The country is also far less populated and has less vegetation. It uses far more energy per capita than Rwanda as well. Furthermore, it has a parliamentary government with a unicameral legislature.
- Saudi Arabia, 7. Norway, 8. Israel, 9. United Arab Emirates, 10. Qatar
Rwanda is like if Burundi was more like South Africa
Rwanda and Burundi are two of the most similar countries, however most signs are in English in Rwanda, while most signs are in French in Burundi. This is one reason the data shows that South Africa is one country that has a few traits of Rwanda that Burundi lacks. They also both have far more incarcerated people than Burundi. Furthermore Rwanda and South Africa have a higher percentage of Protestants.
All data accurate as of 2020.