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 Thailand
Thailand is a Mainland Southeast Asian country. Very few countries have a high degree of similarity with it. The five most similar countries to Thailand all have hot, humid climates. With the exception of Malaysia, rice dominates their farmlands. These countries have a mix of influences from India and China. The four most similar countries to Thailand are predominately Buddhist.
- Cambodia and Thailand were part of the Khmer Empire before the kingdom declined. Their people have relatively similar demographics and culture. In addition, both countries are constitutional monarchies and have similar laws. A majority of the land in both Cambodia and Thailand is used to farm rice. Most of their land is not mountainous. However, Cambodia is significantly poorer and less developed than Thailand.
- Vietnam is another Asian country bordering the South China Sea that is similar to Thailand. They both have a tropical climate and beautiful beaches. The countries have a similar standard of living as well. Both have many high-rises and skyscrapers in their large cities. However, Vietnam’s culture and government is more similar to China than Thailand. Vietnam is less religious due to its communist government. It also practices a different school of Buddhism than Thailand.
- Laos shares a lot of cultural similarity with Thailand, since their languages are closely related, their alphabets are very similar, and they practice Theravada Buddhism. However, Laos is much poorer and its infrastructure is less developed. In addition, it is landlocked and more mountainous than Thailand. A far lower percentage of its land is used for agriculture. It also has a much younger population than Thailand.
- Myanmar borders Thailand to the west. Both countries border the Indian Ocean. In the 1500’s, both countries were part of the Toungoo Empire. Later, Myanmar became part of British India, before becoming independent after World War II. Therefore, Myanmar is more influenced by India than the rest of Southeast Asia. Like Laos and Cambodia, its economic situation is worse than Thailand’s and it is also less developed.
- Malaysia is by far the most similar country to Thailand in regards to technology. Both countries mostly use gas to create electricity. In addition, their power grids are connected. Their transportation is also similar, since both countries drive on the left and use meter-gauge railroad tracks. However, Malaysia is a predominately Muslim country, unlike Thailand. Although there is a significant population of Muslims in Thailand as well as many Buddhists in Malaysia. One big difference is that most of its agricultural land is devoted to producing palm oil, not rice.
- Sri Lanka, 7. Indonesia, 8. Philippines, 9. Brunei, 10. Taiwan
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Thailand
The four least similar countries to Thailand are all located in Africa. These countries have dry desert climates and their infrastructure is much less developed than Thailand’s. Furthermore, they have little demographic or cultural similarity. People in four of the five least similar countries natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages. They also have a large Muslim populations.
- Niger‘s demographics are very different from Thailand. The country has the youngest population in the world, in contrast to Thailand. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world, while Thailand has one of the lowest birthrates in Asia. It is also a landlocked and sparsely populated country with a desert climate.
- Chad is located to Niger’s east. It is another landlocked, sparsely populated country in the Sahara Desert, with very little infrastructure. The country has a mix of Christians and Muslims, unlike Thailand. It was once a colony of France, so French is one of its official languages, along with Arabic.
- Eritrea is another country on this list that is in the Sahel region of Africa. It has a conservative totalitarian one-party dictatorship and poorly developed infrastructure. In addition, its dry desert climate contrasts Thailand’s tropical forest landscape. Another difference is that the unique Ge’ez script is used for writing there.
- Somalia, is a predominately Muslim African country. Its infrastructure is quite poor, due in part to the fact that it is still in civil war. Its government is extremely conservative. It does not allow abortion or the consumption of alcohol. In addition, although both countries border the Indian Ocean, Somalia’s climate is much drier than Thailand’s.
- Iceland is a well developed but sparsely populated country. Not only are their demographics and culture quite different from Thailand, but also their geography. Iceland’s climate is much colder and hardly any of their area is used for agriculture. It is mostly barren land. Iceland’s people are also much wealthier than Thailand.
- Yemen, 7. Afghanistan, 8. Djibouti, 9. Mauritania, 10. Canada
Thailand is like if Cambodia was more like Malaysia
According to the Index, Cambodia is the most similar country to Thailand. However, there are some large differences between these countries as well. The data shows that Malaysia is one country that has much more in common with Thailand than it does with Cambodia. The biggest reason is that they have similar technology. Cambodia’s infrastructure is much less developed. Their major cities tend to have more high-rises and skyscrapers. They also have older and more educated populations, since they have a higher standard of living. Thailand also has a higher percentage of Muslims than Cambodia.
All data accurate as of 2020.