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 Taiwan
Taiwan is an East Asian country. Very few countries are like it. The five most similar countries all border the Pacific Ocean. They also all have a significant population of Buddhists that follow the Mahayana tradition, although these countries tend to have many atheists as well. The most similar countries tend to be densely populated and their large cities have many skyscrapers. With the exception of the western portion of China, these countries also get a lot of rainfall.
- China is extremely similar in demographics and culture, however it also has some big differences. Its one-party, authoritarian government is vastly different from Taiwan’s. Its electrical system is also different since it uses a higher voltage. Furthermore, its railroad tracks are 3’6″ gauge like Japan, not standard gauge. Finally, Taiwan’s geography is quite different. It is a wet subtropical island, in contrast to mainland China’s colder and dryer climate.
- Japan ruled Taiwan for 50 years, until the end of World War II. Both countries are mountainous islands in the Pacific Ocean, although Taiwan is more tropical. While Taiwan doesn’t drive on the left, it does use 3′-6″ railroad tracks and Type A, B electricity with 110 voltage, just like Japan. While Japanese is quite different from Chinese, a lot of Japanese writing still uses traditional Chinese characters.
- South Korea is another densely-populated mountainous land, where the agriculture is primarily rice, although Taiwan is more tropical. In addition, the countries have a similar standard of living. Both countries have unicameral legislatures and two major parties. They also create electricity using mix of coal, gas, and nuclear energy. However, their language and writing system is quite different.
- Singapore like Taiwan, is a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean with mostly ethnic Chinese people. Nevertheless, Singapore was colonized by Britain, so it has many British traits like driving on the left side of the road, using common law, and speaking English. Furthermore, it is much more religiously and ethnically diverse. Another difference is that Singapore is not mountainous.
- Vietnam is a lot less similar to Taiwan than the top four countries. However, they share some distinct similarities. Their geography is the biggest similarity, since both are mountainous countries with a lot of coastline that border the South China Sea. In addition, their agricultural lands predominately grow rice. Also, both countries practice Mahayana Buddhism. However, Vietnam’s standard of living is much lower than Taiwan’s. Furthermore, it has a one-party, authoritarian government.
- Malaysia, 7. Thailand, 8. Philippines, 9. Brunei, 10. Indonesia
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Taiwan
The five least similar countries to Taiwan have a predominately Muslim population and most of their people natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Four of the five are located in Africa. In addition, they all have desert climates, in contrast to Taiwan, which gets a lot of rainfall. These countries also have a much lower standard of living than Taiwan as well. Their governments also tend to be less democratic.
- Somalia is an anarchic, Muslim country in Africa with poorly developed infrastructure, due to on-going civil war. Its culture and demographics are completely different from Taiwan as well. Somalia also has a a dry climate in contrast to Taiwan’s wetter climate. Still, both countries are hot and have a lot of coastline.
- Niger has the youngest population in the world. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world. Taiwan is on the opposite end of the spectrum in these statistics. Furthermore, Niger is a landlocked, relatively flat, sparsely populated desert country, in stark contrast to Taiwan. Its infrastructure is also far less advanced.
- Chad is located to the east of Niger. It is another landlocked, sparsely populated country located in the Sahara Desert. The country has a mix of Christian and Muslims. It is quite poor and its infrastructure is not well developed. Furthermore, Chad was ruled by an authoritarian dictator for much of its history.
- Mauritania is yet another country on this list located in the Sahara Desert. It is located on the Atlantic Ocean coast, far away from Taiwan. The country’s official language is Arabic, but it was once a colony of France so French is used there too as well. The country’s laws are much more conservative than Taiwan’s. It does not allow abortion, same sex marriage, or alcohol.
- Yemen is technically on the Asian continent, but other than that it has little in common with Taiwan. It is another conservative Muslim country on this list. Unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, it has a low standard of living, in part due to on going civil war. Its government is also anarchic and far less liberal. Furthermore, it has more guns per person and far less strict gun control laws.
- Sudan, 7. Mali, 8. Afghanistan, 9. Eritrea, 10. Central African Republic
Taiwan is like if China was more like Japan
According to the Index, China is the most similar country to Taiwan, especially in terms of demographics and culture. However, it has significant differences in geography and government. The data shows that Japan has many of the traits of Taiwan that China lacks. Both countries have democratic governments and do not censor their citizens nearly as much as China. They are both located on islands and have a lot of coastline. They also get a lot of rainfall due to their coastal location. Furthermore, people in Japan and Taiwan are wealthier on average than people in China. Another similarity is that both countries primarily use Type A, B electrical outlets.
All data accurate as of 2020.