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 the US
The United States is a former British colony located in North America. Relatively few countries are like it. The five most similar are all predominately white, English-speaking countries. In addition, the four most similar are mostly Protestant Christian. They are among the wealthiest nations in the world and have well developed infrastructure, including potable tap water and extensive networks of highways. They are also democracies and their legal systems are based on Common Law.
- Canada is by far the most similar country to the United States. This is in part because they are both originally British colonies. However Canada retained more characteristics of Britain than the United States since it became independent much later. Still, the United States has had a great influence on Canada due to its close proximity. In fact, they share the longest border between any two countries in the world. Both countries drive on the right, use standard gauge railroad tracks, and Type A,B electrical outlets with the same voltage.
- Australia is another former British colony characterized by a large European immigrant population. Like the United States, their people are more extroverted than other predominately White, English-speaking countries. However, like Canada, it became independent from Britain much later. In addition, it is on the opposite side of the earth so its geography is significantly different. Still, a significant portion of both countries is desert, although Australia has a greater percentage.
- New Zealand is yet country in Oceania whose culture and demographics are also similar to the United States. However, like Australia, it is on the opposite side of the planet, so its geography is significantly different. Although both countries have highly developed infrastructure, its technology is also significantly different since it drives on the left, uses 3’6″ gauge railroad tracks, and Type I electrical outlets with a higher voltage.
- United Kingdom originally founded the United States, so it is no wonder that they are high on this list as well. More Americans trace their ancestry back to Britain than any other country. However its government and geography differ from the United States. It is much more densely populated and is not as mountainous. Still, the forests of Great Britain do bear a strong resemblance to Eastern United States, while the landscape of the Western United States is significantly different.
- Ireland also has similar culture and demographics to the United States in part because of its similarity to Britain, but also because 10% of the United States population claims to have Irish ancestry. It is also the only country on this list that has a popularly elected head of state, like the United States, not the Queen of England. However, unlike other English speaking countries on this list, Ireland is mostly Catholic, although they are both relatively religious compared to other predominately White, English-speaking countries.
- Germany, 7. France, 8. Norway, 9. Switzerland, 10. Mexico
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to the US
The least similar countries to the United States are all far less developed and have a lower standard of living. Three of the five are located in Asia. Three of the five also have a predominately Muslim population. Furthermore, the governments of these countries are significantly less democratic than the United States’. They also have much younger populations are far less people have graduated from college.
- Cambodia and the United States have very different cultures. Cambodians are Buddhist and are generally good listeners and compromisers in contrast to Americans. Furthermore, they use the unique Khmer script for their writing. In addition, the country’s tropical rainforest climate is much warmer and wetter than the United States. As a result, its agricultural lands primarily grow rice. Their infrastructure isn’t as well developed and few people have cars, although both countries do drive on the right side of the road.
- Laos is a landlocked tropical country to the north of Cambodia. Its culture and demographics are extremely different from the United States. In contrast the the United States, the government of Laos is dominated by the Communist Party and there is little democracy or rule of law. Although it was once a colony of France, it did not become very westernized. Their people follow both Buddhism and also indigenous beliefs. They also use the unique Lao script for their writing.
- Niger is another mostly Muslim country in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is landlocked and almost completely desert. It is among the poorest countries in the world and has the highest birth rate. The average woman has more than 6 children. The typical diet in Niger is extremely different as well. The most common staple food is millet, but Niger also eats a lot of sorghum. Still, Niger is more democratic than other countries in the bottom 5, although its government is also unstable.
- Somalia is an anarchic country in Africa with war torn infrastructure. Since it is also a conservative Muslim country, its politics are much less liberal. Furthermore, it is mostly desert with vastly different flora and fauna from the United States. However, the country uses the Latin script and some areas of the country were once occupied by Britain, so English is used there to some degree.
- Bangladesh is another country in Asia with little similarity to the United States. It is a densely populated, predominately Muslim country with a tropical monsoon climate. Not only is its infrastructure far less developed than the infrastructure in the United States. Its standards are also far different since it drives on the left, use one meter wide railroad track gauge, and also uses different electrical outlets and voltage. Still, most people in both countries do speak Indo-European languages, although they use vastly different writing systems.
- Eritrea, 7. Sudan, 8. Guinea-Bissau, 9. Chad, 10. Mali
The United States is like if Canada was more like Mexico
Canada is by far the most similar country to the United States, according to the Index. However, they also have some noticeable differences as well. The data shows that Mexico has many characteristics of the United States that Canada lacks. Spanish is more widespread in the United States than Canada, due to immigration from Latin America. Furthermore, the United States and Mexico have warmer climates than Canada’s. They are also more densely populated. Both countries use the presidential system of government as well. In fact, Mexico’s official name is the United Mexican States.
All data accurate as of 2020.