Turkey’s Most Similar Countries

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.

Turkey has most in common with Central Asian countries, but it also has traits of European and Middle Eastern countries, so it is relatively unique. Four of the five countries most similar to Turkey have been part of the Ottoman Empire at one time or another. These countries tend to have many Muslims as well. However, with the exception of Iran, the laws in these countries are less conservative and more secular. The agriculture in the top five countries is similar as well, since their farms mostly grow wheat and barley. The terrain in these countries is quite mountainous as well.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to Turkey

  1. Azerbaijan is by far the most similar country to Turkey. The most similar language to Turkish is Azeri. The populations of both countries are mostly Muslim, although Azeri are mostly Shia, in contrast to Turkey. In addition, both countries have secular governments with strongmen as rulers. Their geography is also similar, although Azerbaijan does not border the Mediterranean Sea. Since Azerbaijan was once part of the Soviet Union, it has more of a Russian influence than Turkey.
  2. Albania had been part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, until it gained independence in 1912. It has the highest percentage of Muslims of any country entirely in Europe. Like Turkey, its government is officially secular, although Turks are generally more religious than Albanians. Although their languages are unrelated, both use the Latin alphabet. Both countries are quite mountainous and border the Mediterranean Sea.
  3. Iran is to the southeast of Turkey. It is another mountainous Muslim country. Although most Iranians speak Persian, the country has significant portions of the population that speak Kurdish and Azeri. Both countries excel in the Olympics at wrestling, however Iranians are not as interested in basketball as Turks. Like Azerbaijan, most of its population are Shi’ites, not Sunnis like in Turkey.
  4. North Macedonia is to the east of Albania. Unlike the first three countries on this list, it does not have a Muslim majority population, but it still shares many similar customs and infrastructure. They both drive on the right, use Type C, F electrical outlets, and have standard gauge railroad tracks. They also primarily use coal and hydropower to create electricity. However, one big difference is that North Macedonia is landlocked.
  5. Montenegro is another country on this list that borders the Mediterranean Sea. Like North Macedonia, most of its people are Christian, but it still has a significant Muslim population as well. Both countries especially enjoy soccer and basketball. Still, Montenegro’s agriculture is significantly different, since it grows a lot of grapes. As a result, in contrast to Turkey, winemaking is popular in Montenegro.
  6. Bosnia & Herzegovina, 7. Tunisia, 8. Bulgaria, 9. Uzbekistan, 10. Kyrgyzstan

The least similar countries to Turkey are located in two main regions: Melanesia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In contrast to the relatively dry Turkish climate, the least similar countries get much more rainfall. They are also poorer and their infrastructure is not as well developed. Interestingly enough, four of the top five least similar countries have English as their official language.

Top 10 Places Least Similar to Turkey

  1. Solomon Islands is tropical archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The country was a colony of Great Britain until 1978. The tropical rainforest nation located in Melanesia shares few things in common with Turkey, except that both countries have a lot of coastline. Furthermore, the country is fairly democratic, unlike Turkey.
  2. Central African Republic is least similar country to Turkey in Africa. It is landlocked and a high percentage of its land is forested. It was once a colony of France and as a result, it is mostly Christian. The country is far poorer than Turkey and has a younger population. In addition, its government is more democratic and has less censorship.
  3. Papua New Guinea is similar to the Solomon Islands. It is one of the hottest and wettest countries in the world, in contrast to Turkey’s drier and more temperate climate. Furthermore, its people are Christian and have little genetic similarity to Turks. In addition, they drive on the left and use Type I electrical outlets, unlike Turkey.
  4. Liberia is located in West Africa. It is yet another English speaking country on this list, although it was not a British colony like the others. It is mostly Christian and was founded by freed slaves from the United States. The country is quite flat and most of its land is near the Atlantic Coast. In addition, Liberia’s standard of living is far lower than Turkey.
  5. South Sudan is another landlocked country located to the east of Central African Republic. It is a newly formed Christian country that broke off from Sudan, due to civil war. Its infrastructure has yet to be fully modernized. Unlike Sudan, it is mostly Christian and get far more rainfall. The country’s diet is also extremely different from Turkey, since its staples are cassava and yam. Still, Turkey and South Sudan are in the same time zone.
  6. Lesotho, 7. Dem. Republic of Congo, 8. Malawi, 9. Haiti, 10. Zambia

Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Turkey

Turkey is like if Azerbaijan was more like Italy

According to the Index, Azerbaijan is by far the most similar country to Turkey. However, they also have a significant amount of differences as well. The data shows that Italy has the most traits of Turkey that Azerbaijan lacks (Greece has the second most). Both countries border the Mediterranean Sea and have a lot of coastline. In fact, they were once part of the Roman Empire and Istanbul was once known as New Rome. Italy and Turkey also have a lower percentage of college graduates and a lower percentage of employed women than Azerbaijan. In addition, soccer and basketball are more popular in these countries than in Azerbaijan.

Country Superlatives

Most Similar Demographics: Azerbaijan
Most Similar Culture: Azerbaijan
Most Similar Government: Ukraine
Most Similar Infrastructure: North Macedonia
Most Similar Geography: Spain

Least Similar Demographics: Burundi
Least Similar Culture: Cambodia
Least Similar Government: Yemen
Least Similar Infrastructure: Haiti
Least Similar Geography: Solomon Islands

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

23 Comments

  1. As a person living abroad for 15 years, Turkey is interestingly similar to many Latin American countries other than religion.

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  2. 6) BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA is another mountainous country with a significant percentage of Muslims. Their demographics and culture are also very similar. In addition, both countries grow a lot of wheat and corn, as well a lot of vegetables. Another difference is that the country is Slavic and has much less coastline than Turkey.

    7) MONTENEGRO is yet another Balkan country on this list, with a significant Muslim population. It borders the Mediterranean and is quite mountainous, just like Turkey. It is also a scenic tourist destination. Both countries are quite interested in basketball and excel at the Olympics. However, Montenegro is a Slavic country.

    8) BULGARIA is located to the northwest of Turkey. Both countries have significant Muslim populations. In fact, Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire, since today has a significant Turkish-speaking population, a remnant of the time when Bulgaria was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. However, unlike Turkey, Bulgaria, though was never part of the Soviet Union, uses Russian-made battle tanks and assault weapons, and has more of a Russian influence on its culture and politics, in contrast to the now Russia’s enemy Turkey. Also, both countries have extremely similar demographics and culture. Furthermore, Greeks, Germans and Armenians are also the largest minorities in both countries.

    9) MOROCCO had been part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, until it gained independence in 1912, and also has quite a large Turkish community, so it’s no wonder why the country is so similar. Their culture is also similar. Both countries are quite mountainous and border the Mediterranean Sea. However, unlike Turkey, Morocco speaks a completely different language, called Arabic, and has much more desert.

    10) ROMANIA is located across the Black Sea from Turkey, especially from Trabzon, to the northwest. Both countries were also in the Ottoman Empire. Their agriculture is similar as well, since they both predominately produce corn and wheat, but also wine, grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers, though Turkey also grows olives. However, Romania has medium coastline, its languages and writing systems, while distantly related to those of Turkey, are different, its people are mostly Orthodox and its climate is slightly colder.

    11) KYRGYZSTAN is another mountainous, mostly Turkic country with a significant percentage of Muslims. Their demographics and culture are also very similar. One difference is that the country has a much bigger Russian influence, since it was once part of the Soviet Union. Another difference is that the country’s population is mostly Mongoloid and is landlocked in contrast to Turkey.

    12) CROATIA is yet another Balkan country on this list, with a significant Ottoman influence on it. It borders the Mediterranean and is quite mountainous, just like Turkey. It is also a scenic tourist destination. Both countries are quite interested in basketball and excel at the Olympics. However, Croatia is a Slavic country, and has also a lot of islands.

    13) ITALY is located across the Adriatic Sea from Croatia. Both countries have significant Muslim populations, since Italy has many Albanians, especially in the country’s South, where a significant population even speaks Albanian natively there. In fact, Italy also houses a significant population of Romanians, so Romania, as stated above, was part of the Ottoman Empire, leading to a powerful Turkish influence on it. However, unlike Turkey, Italy is completely different, with its language being completely different, as well its religion. Also, both countries have extremely similar demographics, standard of living and culture. Furthermore, Italy has also a lot of coastline, like Turkey, making it a scenic tourist destination.

    14) LEBANON is another Arab country that borders the Mediterranean Sea. Their demographics are fairly similar. Both countries have a high employment rate for men, but a low employment rate for women. Their average income per capita is similar as well. Their diet is also similar.

    15) UZBEKISTAN may be the most similar country in Central Asia. Its technology is extremely similar. Due to the abundant reserves of natural gas in the region, both countries rely on it to create most of their electricity. In addition, they both use a lot of water for irrigation. Both countries predominately grow wheat, although Uzbekistan grows more cotton than barley. Another difference is that it does not border the Black Sea.

    16) TAJIKISTAN is another Muslim country in Central Asia. However, its native people have mostly Persian ancestry, not Turkic. Their holidays are also incredibly similar. Like Uzbekistan, its culture is also similar. Like Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan is also quite mountainous.

    17) GREECE is to the west of Turkey. It has a significant Muslim population in its northeastern and northwestern parts. However, there are also some significant differences, since Greece speaks a completely unrelated, though distantly related, language, has a far lower percentage of Muslims, and is mostly Orthodox Christian. Greece has also a significant amount of islands.

    18) GEORGIA is yet another country on this list that is mostly Eastern Orthodox, but also has a significant Muslim population. In addition, the countries are both mountainous, but also have a coastline. The countries drink about the same amount of alcohol and primarily drink wine and spirits. However, Georgia has more of a Russian influence on its culture, since it was once part of the Soviet Union. Also, its language is quite different.

    19) SYRIA is another Muslim country that borders the Mediterranean. A low percentage of both countries is used for agriculture, but their agriculture is similar. Both countries grow olives, barley, and wheat. The biggest difference is their governments. Syria’s government is more authoritarian.

    20) SPAIN is another country bordering the Mediterranean Sea with a troubled economy. Both countries are big tourist destinations and have similar climates. In addition both Spain and Turkey have been occupied by Muslim powers in their past. Spain was ruled by the Moors, while Turkey was much more recently ruled by the Ottomans. In fact, Spain, like Italy, has an enormous population of Romanians, whose country, in turn, is greatly influenced by Turkey culturally. Both countries have extremely similar demographics, standard of living and culture, though Spain seems to have a much higher standard of living than Turkey.

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