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 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is located in South Asia. Very few countries are similar to it. The five most similar countries all border the Indian Ocean and have tropical climates. Four of these five countries primarily grow rice. In addition, the four most similar countries drive on the left side of the road. With the exception of Mauritius, they all primarily use Indic scripts for their writing. Furthermore, these countries tend not to do well at the Olympics, despite their large populations.
- India is by far the most similar country to Sri Lanka. A majority of the population descended from Northern India and they have deep demographic and cultural ties. Both countries love to play cricket, but have little success in the Olympics. However, there are some big differences as well since the majority of Sri Lankans practice Buddhism, not Hinduism. In addition, its climate is hotter and wetter than India.
- Mauritius is another tropical island located in the Indian Ocean, although it is closer to Madagascar. Around two-thirds of the country has Indian ancestry. Most were brought to Mauritius by the British as indentured servants. Despite their similar climates, most of their farms produce sugarcane, not rice. In addition, most of its people are Hindu, not Buddhist.
- Bangladesh is another country on the Indian subcontinent. Both countries were once colonized by Great Britain. Like India and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh primarily speaks an Indic language. In addition, they both have tropical climates and primarily grow rice. However, Bangladesh is mostly Muslim. In addition, it has one of the densest populations in the world.
- Thailand began practicing Theravada Buddhism after Sinhalese monks converted them in the 13th Century. Both countries produce a lot of rice and their cuisine is similar. In addition, their writing systems both descended from the Grantha script, although their languages are completely different. Another big difference is that Thai people have East Asian ancestry, unlike Sri Lanka.
- Myanmar was part of British India, before it became independent. It is located between India and Thailand. Like Thailand, it is another predominately Buddhist country in Southeast Asia that uses a writing system that descended from the Grantha script. However, Myanmar is less densely populated than Sri Lanka. It also does not drive on the left side of the road, although interestingly enough, many of its vehicles have their steering wheel on the right side.
- Fiji, 7. Malaysia, 8. Indonesia, 9. Philippines, 10. Nepal
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Sri Lanka
Two regions Sri Lanka has little similarity with are Europe and landlocked countries in the Sahel region of Africa. Europe is wealthier and has better infrastructure than Sri Lanka, while many African countries have a lower standard of living. Their culture and climates are also quite different. Most of these countries primarily use the Latin alphabet.
- Iceland is another country located on an island, but they have little else in common. It is a well developed, sparsely populated country. Not only are their people and culture quite different from Sri Lanka, but also their politics. Iceland is much more liberal than Sri Lanka. Its climate is much colder and little of its land is used for agriculture.
- Finland is a flat and sparsely populated country with many freshwater lakes. Like Iceland and Switzerland, it is much more liberal than Sri Lanka. In addition, while Sri Lanka is one of the most religious countries in the world, more than 50% of people in Finland don’t practice religion.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the middle of Africa. It is also mostly desert. The country was ruled by an authoritarian dictatorship for many years. Its standard of living is far lower than Sri Lanka. It is predominately Muslim, but also has a large percentage of Christians.
- Niger is similar to Chad. It is another predominately Muslim country located in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The country was once a colony of France before becoming independent. It has significantly less developed infrastructure than Sri Lanka.
- Switzerland is one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world, in contrast to Sri Lanka. Switzerland’s geography is also quite different, being a landlocked country with a temperate climate. Still, both countries do have a large proportion of forested land.
- Eritrea, 7. Canada, 8. United States, 9. Luxembourg, 10. Sweden
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Sri Lanka is like if India was more like Thailand
The most similar country to Sri Lanka is India, according to the Index. However Sri Lanka also has some significant differences with India. Thailand is one country that has many of the traits of Sri Lanka that India lacks. Most people in Sri Lanka and Thailand are Theravada Buddhists. In addition, their writing systems are closely related. These countries also have a higher standard of living than India.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Sri Lanka
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: India
Most Similar Culture: India
Most Similar Government: Indonesia
Most Similar Infrastructure: India
Most Similar Geography: Philippines
Least Similar Demographics: Mali
Least Similar Culture: Germany
Least Similar Government: Turkmenistan
Least Similar Infrastructure: Iceland
Least Similar Geography: Libya