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.
Samoa is a country located in the South Pacific region. It is the only Polynesian country large enough to be studied, since Tuvalu and Tonga had too little available data. The four most similar countries are in Melanesia. They are also tropical islands in the South Pacific that were once colonized by an English-speaking country. Except for Papua New Guinea, the most people in these countries speak Austronesian languages. These countries are also predominately Christian, with a mix of Protestants and Catholics.
(Please note that most Polynesian and Micronesian countries are not included in this article since they did not have enough data for this study)
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Samoa
- Vanuatu is a Melanesian country to the west of Samoa. Since it was jointly administered by both Great Britain and France, it has less of a British influence. Both countries have a parliamentary government with an elected head of state. In addition, both countries do not have much agricultural land, except for coconut trees. Furthermore, fruit is a huge part of the diet in Samoa and Vanuatu.
- Solomon Islands is another country in the Pacific Ocean that was once colonized by Germany. However, they left little impact on the islands. They were eventually colonized by Great Britain, so their people are now mostly Protestant, although there are also some Catholics as well. Furthermore, neither country has a formal military force. However, the Solomon Islands are much more heavily forested than Samoa.
- Fiji is to the west of Samoa. Both countries have two mountainous main islands with similar flora and fauna. Fiji and Samoa also have about the same standard of living and their diets are alike as well. In addition, both countries like to play rugby. However, Fiji has a large percentage of people with Indian ancestry and many of them follow Hinduism. Another difference is that sugarcane is the dominant crop in Fiji.
- Papua New Guinea is another country that had been a German colony before World War I. While Papua New Guinea became a territory of Australia after World War II, Samoa was a territory of New Zealand. The country is less developed than Samoa but both are rural, mountainous, and tropical. One big difference is most of the native languages spoken in Papua New Guinea are not Austronesian languages.
- Philippines is a country located on an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Like Samoa, it is a predominately Christian country, although it is mostly Catholic. Both countries natively speak an Austronesian language and also have 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. One example of this is that the people in the Philippines are more interested in basketball than rugby, unlike Samoa.
- East Timor, 7. Belize, 8. Jamaica, 9. Malaysia 10. Mauritius
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Samoa
The least similar countries to Samoa all have much drier climates. With the exception of Afghanistan, most people in these countries speak Afro-Asiatic languages. These countries also have large populations of Muslims. Their governments are also much less democratic than Samoa’s. In addition, these countries all drive on the right side of the road.
- Saudi Arabia is an Arab country located between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. It has an autocratic government with extremely conservative Muslim laws. Its government also spends a lot of money on its military, while Samoa does not even have a military. Its people also tend to be much more wealthy than Samoans.
- Afghanistan is a landlocked Muslim country that has especially little in common with the Samoa. The infrastructure standards of Afghanistan are quite different from Samoa, since it drives on the right, uses Russian broad gauge railroad tracks, and uses Type C, F electrical outlets . Afghanistan also relies on hydropower for electricity, while Samoa relies on biomass and oil. Still, both countries are quite mountainous, although Samoa is much hotter and gets far more rainfall.
- Mauritania is yet another impoverished, predominately Muslim country with little similarity to Samoa. It is located in Africa on the Atlantic Coast. Most of its people natively speak a variety of Arabic. It was once a French colony. Its government is much more unstable and less democratic than Samoa. Its landscape is nearly all barren desert and it is not nearly as mountainous.
- Eritrea is across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia. Most of the land in both Samoa and Eritrea is close to the coast, Eritrea is primarily desert. Although its population is about 50% Christian, they are part of the unique Oriental Orthodox denomination. Linguistically, Eritrea has no similarity as well since their people natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages and use the Ge’ez script.
- Niger was once a colony of France before becoming independent. It is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Niger is landlocked and relatively flat in contrast to Samoa. Its landscape also has far less vegetation. Still, both countries use the Latin script, since Niger’s official language is French.
- Chad, 7. United Arab Emirates, 8. Israel, 9. Russia, 10. Libya
Samoa is like if Vanuatu was more like New Zealand
According to the Index, Vanuatu is the most similar country to Samoa. However, there are a few differences between them as well. The data shows New Zealand happens to have many characteristics of Samoa that Vanuatu lacks. Both countries are located in Polynesia and their native people have similar ancestry. Samoans also tend to be slightly wealthier and more educated than people in Vanuatu as well. Furthermore, both New Zealand and Samoa drive on the left side of the road. A higher percentage of their energy comes from renewable sources as well.
All data accurate as of 2020.