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 Spain
Spain is a European country. Many countries are similar to it. The top five countries are all in the European Union and use the Euro as their currency. The top four have a majority Catholic population and most of their people natively speak Romance languages. They all have well developed infrastructure and a high standard of living.
- Portugal is Spain’s only neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula, although it does not actually border the Mediterranean. They share similar demographics and culture. Both countries have a similar climate and grow many olives. Furthermore, they both use a unique railroad gauge, not used anywhere else in Europe. One difference is that Portugal has a semi-presidential system of government, while Spain is a constitutional monarchy.
- Italy is just across the Balearic Sea from Spain. The two countries have similar climate, demographics, and culture. It is yet another European country where most people are Catholic and speak a Romance language. In addition, both are parliamentary multi-party democracies with similar laws. In addition, they share some sporting similarities, since they both have won the World Cup and have also have strong soccer and basketball leagues.
- France borders Spain to the North. It is the only other country in Europe that borders both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. These countries have roughly the same population density and amount of pollution. Like Italy and Spain, it is also is strong in soccer. However, France has a more diverse population, since it has more Muslims and Africans. Another difference is that, France’s climate is wetter and cooler.
- Greece is another country that borders the Mediterranean and has a very similar climate and vegetation. The personality of their people are among the most extroverted in Europe, according to the Lewis Model. However there are some big differences too. Greeks are generally Orthodox Christian, not Catholic. Although Greek is part of the same language family as Spanish it is significantly different. It also uses a different writing system.
- Belgium was once known as Spanish Netherlands, since it was ruled by the Habsburgs for over 100 years. The two countries governments are quite similar since they are both constitutional democracies with similar liberal laws. Unlike Portugal, France, and Italy, Belgians drink more beer than wine, like the Spanish. Still Belgium is more north and significantly denser in population.
- Slovenia, 7. Croatia, 8. Germany, 9. Luxembourg, 10. Austria
Although most Latin American countries speak Spanish, only Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay are significantly similar. Many Latin America countries are located in sparsely populated rainforests, in contrast to the chaparral landscape of Spain. Furthermore, Latin Americans tend to have a high diversity of ancestries, unlike the Spanish. Spain is also wealthier and more developed than all the Latin American countries.
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Spain
All five of the least similar countries to Spain are located in Africa. Their climates are generally hotter and drier than Spain. They also have few cultural or demographic similarities. Most people in the top five countries speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Four of the five countries are predominately Muslim nations with much more conservative laws and less democracy than Spain.
- Niger is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. Like other countries on this list it is mostly Muslim. However, since it was colonized by France, French is the official language and the Latin alphabet is used there. Its demographics are also significantly different since it is one of the youngest countries in the world on average.
- Chad is to the east of Niger. It is another landlocked country located in the Sahara Desert. The country’s two official languages are Arabic and French. It is mostly Muslim, but it also has a significant percentage of Christians. The country was ruled by a dictator for several decades. Although their infrastructure is less developed than Spain’s, their standards are similar since both countries drive on the right and use Type C electrical outlets.
- Somalia is another anarchic Muslim country that has poorly developed infrastructure, due to civil war. Its conservative policies contrast Spain’s more liberal society. However, both countries do have lots of coastline. In addition, Somalia actually uses the Latin alphabet, despite their people natively speaking an Afroasiatic language.
- Eritrea is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population, however the Christians there are part of the Oriental Orthodox denomination. The country also uses the unique Ge’ez script for its writing system. In addition, Eritrea has one of the world’s most authoritarian governments.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert, near Somalia and Yemen. It is predominately Muslim and most people speak Arabic there. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its authoritarian government and lack of development also make it quite different from Spain.
- Mauritania, 7. Yemen, 8. Mali, 9. South Sudan, 10. Bangladesh
Spain is like if Portugal was more like Chile
While Portugal is by far the most similar country to Spain, according to the Index, these countries do not speak the same language, although they are closely related. This is the biggest reason the data indicates that Chile has a few aspects of Spain that Portugal lacks. Most people in both Spain and Chile natively speak Spanish.
All data accurate as of 2020.