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 Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is an Arab country in the Middle East. The top five countries most similar to it are also located on the Arabian Peninsula. These countries are all mostly Muslim and use Arabic as their official language. With the exception of Jordan, they are all in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The GCC is similar to the European Union in that people and goods are allowed to flow freely between their countries. Furthermore, while these countries do not have a shared currency, all of their currencies have a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar. In addition, they are among the driest countries in the world and have little vegetation.
- Oman is another absolute monarchy that is conservative and censors journalists. It also shares similar demographics and development of infrastructure. In addition, they are the least densely populated countries in the region. The biggest difference between the two countries is their religious denomination. Most people in Oman are Ibadi Muslims whereas most people in Saudi Arabia are Sunni Muslims.
- United Arab Emirates is another oil-rich Muslim country with a high level of development. The cities in both countries tend to have many skyscrapers in development. However, UAE is far more cosmopolitan than Saudi Arabia. Nearly 90% of its inhabitants are immigrants, many coming from the Indian subcontinent. Still, both countries are monarchies are with relatively conservative laws.
- Kuwait is a small country located between Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It is another country with a lot of wealth from oil. In the past, Saudi Arabia wanted to annex the entire Kuwaiti territory. However it did manage to annex two-thirds of its territory in the 1920s. One difference is that over one third of Kuwaitis are Shia. In addition, there is a significant Christian population there as well.
- Qatar is a small peninsula connected to Saudi Arabia. Political relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar broken down recently and the border between them had been closed for several years. Another difference is that it is much more densely populated. Despite this, both countries have a high degree of similarity. Both countries are absolute monarchies.
- Jordan is a Sunni Muslim country to the north of Saudi Arabia. Jordan’s royal family, the Hashemites, once ruled the Kingdom of Hejaz, which comprises both Mecca and Medina, but were taken over by the Saudis in the 1920s. Therefore, Jordan’s culture and demographics are extremely similar to Saudi Arabia. However, its economy is not nearly as advanced, since there is relatively little oil there.
- Bahrain, 7. Libya, 8. Egypt, 9. Iraq, 10. Syria
The Top-Rated Tours of Saudi Arabia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Saudi Arabia
The five least similar countries to Saudi Arabia are all predominately Christian. Since they were colonized by European countries they adopted the Latin alphabet as well. These countries are all quite poor and underdeveloped. In addition, their governments tend to be more democratic than Saudi Arabia. They also get far more rainfall. With the exception of Haiti, they are all located in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Since the country was once a colony of France, it is mostly Catholic and has little cultural or demographic similarity to Saudi Arabia. Much of its land is used for farming and many people are farmers, quite unlike Saudi Arabia. However, the two countries are located at relatively the same latitude. Both drive on the right side of the road as well.
- Mozambique also borders the Indian Ocean, but it is located in Africa. It was a colony of Portugal before its independence, so its laws tend to be much less conservative than Saudi Arabia’s. It also has the least similar infrastructure to Saudi Arabia, not only is it not well developed, but it also drives on the left and uses a different train gauge. Although it is mostly Christian, it does have the highest percentage of Muslims on this list with around 20%.
- Lesotho is another relatively poor Christian country on this list. It is quite mountainous and landlocked, since it is completely surrounded by South Africa. Although both countries are monarchies, Lesotho’s monarch only has ceremonial powers and its government is more democratic. Neither country has much forested land, but Lesotho’s landscape is mostly grassland, not barren desert.
- Papua New Guinea is a Melanesian country located in the Pacific Ocean. In contrast to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, it is one of the wettest countries on Earth. While Saudi Arabia is highly developed, Papua New Guinea has little infrastructure. Furthermore, Papua New Guinea drives on the left and uses Type I electrical outlets.
- Burundi is a landlocked country in Great Rift Valley of Africa. It borders Lake Tangyanika and a large percentage of its land area is lakes or wetlands, in contrast to the Arabian desert. The country’s diet is largely based on bananas. Burundi also drinks far more alcohol per capita than Saudi Arabia.
- Solomon Islands, 7. Liberia, 8. Democratic Republic of Congo, 9. Malawi, 10. East Timor
Saudi Arabia is like if Oman was more like Libya
According to the Index, Oman is the most similar country to Saudi Arabia. However, they do have a few notable differences. Libya is one country that has significantly more in common with Saudi Arabia than it does with Oman. Saudi Arabia and Libya have a greater percentage of Sunni Muslims than Oman. Unlike Oman, both countries strictly prohibit alcohol. They also have a lower percentage of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Saudi Arabia
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Jordan
Most Similar Culture: Jordan
Most Similar Government: Oman
Most Similar Infrastructure: United Arab Emirates
Most Similar Geography: Oman
Least Similar Demographics: Burundi
Least Similar Culture: Latvia
Least Similar Government: Austria
Least Similar Infrastructure: Mozambique
Least Similar Geography: Singapore