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 Sweden
Sweden is a European country. It is like many countries in Northern Europe. The five most similar countries to Sweden all border the Baltic Sea or North Sea and have relatively cool climates. The majority of people in four of the top five countries speak Germanic languages. They all tend to have many Protestants and irreligious people as well. Furthermore, these countries are among the most democratic in the world.
- Norway and Sweden were a united country for nearly 100 years, until Norway declared independence in 1905. The countries have similar geography, although Sweden is less mountainous. Both countries are constitutional monarchies with similar egalitarian laws and generous welfare benefits. Sweden and Norway are the two most successful countries at the Olympics in cross-country skiing. While both countries enjoy soccer and handball, Sweden is more interested than Norway in ice hockey.
- Finland is extremely similar to Sweden, due in part to the fact that Finland was part of Sweden for almost 700 years. In fact, Swedish is still one of Finland’s official languages. Although the Swedish language is vastly different from Finnish, the two languages use essentially the same alphabet and orthography. Both countries are mostly Protestant but are not especially religious. In addition, their climate and landscape is almost identical. One big difference is that Sweden does not use the Euro. It is also not a constitutional monarchy. Furthermore, its trains use a different rail gauge.
- Denmark and Sweden were part of the Kalmar Union between 1397 and 1523. The countries have especially similar governments. They are both constitutional monarchies that provide generous entitlements to their citizens. Although they do not border each other, they are linked by the Øresund Bridge. However, Denmark has little interest in ice hockey and is not nearly as good in the Winter Olympics as other countries on this list. In addition, Denmark has a unique electrical outlet. Furthermore, Denmark has a far higher percentage of farmland than Sweden.
- Germany is just to the south of Denmark. It has a similar standard of living as Sweden. The countries have about the same number of guns per capita. They excel at the Olympics and both have hosted the World Cup before. One big difference is that Germany has more Catholics, although neither country is especially religious. Germany’s climate is also much more temperate and it is also more densely populated.
- Netherlands is another higher urbanized Germanic country on this list. In addition, although both of their governments are relatively liberal, Sweden still criminalizes drug use and does not allow prostitution, in contrast to the Netherlands. Still, the countries have a lot in common, since they have similar demographics and culture. However, the Netherlands is far more densely populated.
- Austria, 7. Estonia, 8. Latvia, 9. Iceland, 10. United Kingdom
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Sweden
The four of the five least similar countries are located in Africa. In addition, most of these countries are close proximity to the Red Sea. Although these countries are relatively in close to Sweden and are also sparsely populated, their climate is much hotter and drier. In addition, these countries have a far lower standard of living and their culture is more conservative. Most of the people in these countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. They all have large Muslim populations as well.
- Eritrea is located along the Red Sea, next to Sudan and Ethiopia. It is the only country on this list with a majority Christian population. However, Eritreans tend to be more religious and are mostly Oriental Orthodox. In addition, the country is extremely poor and its government has been a dictatorship for almost 20 years.
- Somalia is another country on the Horn of Africa. It has a lot of coastline on the Indian Ocean. It is an anarchic, war-torn, Muslim country in stark contrast to Sweden. Furthermore, Somalia has little infrastructure, while Sweden has many cars and trains per person. However, both countries do use the Latin alphabet, although their languages are unrelated.
- Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert. It is an impoverished, predominately Muslim country, like others on this list. The country has experienced recent political upheaval due to internal conflicts. As a result, it lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan. Its laws are also far more conservative than Sweden’s. It does not allow alcohol, same sex marriage, or abortion.
- Yemen is a war-torn and extremely conservative Muslim country that unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, is not well developed. Sweden and Yemen have no linguistic similarity as well, since they speak an Afroasiatic language and use the Arabic script. It also has more firearms per person and less strict gun control laws.
- Chad is a landlocked country in the Sahara Desert. It is yet another African country on this list. The country has both Arabic and French as official languages and has a mix of Muslims and Christians living there. Although both countries drive on the right and use Type C electrical outlets, Chad’s infrastructure is far less developed than Sweden.
- Niger, 7. Bangladesh, 8. Gambia, 9. Mali, 10. Mauritania
Sweden is like if Norway was more like Finland
According to the Index, Norway and Finland are the two most similar countries to Sweden. Finland has several traits of Sweden that Norway lacks. People in Finland and Sweden are more interested in ice hockey than Norway. They are also less mountainous and have more freshwater lakes. Furthermore, Swedish is one of the official languages in both Finland and Sweden. They are also both part of the European Union, unlike Norway.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Sweden
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Norway
Most Similar Culture: Norway
Most Similar Government: Denmark
Most Similar Infrastructure: Norway
Most Similar Geography: Finland
Least Similar Demographics: Niger
Least Similar Culture: Saudi Arabia
Least Similar Government: Yemen
Least Similar Infrastructure: Haiti
Least Similar Geography: Samoa