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 Vietnam
Vietnam is a Mainland Southeast Asian country. However, unlike most other countries in its region, Vietnam was more influenced by China than India. The five most similar countries to Vietnam have many Buddhists. With the exception of China, most of the land in these countries is tropical and rice is by far the most commonly grown crop. Four of the top five are part of the ASEAN Free Trade Area. These countries also tend not to be very democratic.
- Laos is to the west of Vietnam. It is another country that has a government controlled by the Communist Party. Both countries were part of French Indochina. While they have a similar climate, Laos is landlocked, in contrast to Vietnam, where most of the country is close to the coast. Laos also has a lower standard of living. While Vietnam’ large cities have many high-rises and skyscrapers, Laos does not have any building taller than 100 meters.
- Thailand is less influenced by the West than Vietnam since it was never colonized. Their diets remain extremely similar as both countries almost exclusively eat rice as their staple food, with a mix of chicken, pork, and fish. The infrastructure in Vietnam and Thailand also has a similar level of development. Their trains both use 1-meter gauge railroad tracks, however Thailand drives on the left.
- Cambodia, like Laos and Vietnam, was part of French Indochina. The countries have about the same percentage of forested land and agricultural land. Vietnamese and Khmer are distantly related, however their writing systems are completely different, since Vietnamese uses the Latin script. Cambodia is also poorer and less developed than Vietnam. It is also less mountainous than Vietnam.
- China ruled Vietnam several times in history, most recently in 15th Century. So its culture is more similar to China than other Southeast Asian countries. The governments of both countries are totally controlled by the Communist Party. As a result, China and Vietnam have similar religious traditions as well. They both have high rates of atheism but also practice Mahayana Buddhism. One big difference is their geography. Since it is further to the north, China is colder. In addition, a lot of its land is desert. Only the climate in Southeast China is similar.
- Myanmar is another country in Southeast Asia, but it borders the Indian Ocean, not the Pacific Ocean. Both countries are mountainous and have a lot of coastline. Both countries do not allow same sex marriage, polygamy, prostitution. One big difference in their laws is that Myanmar has far more restrictions on abortion. Since Myanmar was once part of British India, it has more British than French influence as well.
- Taiwan, 7. Philippines, 8. Indonesia, 9. Malaysia, 10. North Korea
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Vietnam
The countries least similar to Vietnam are all much less densely populated. These countries all get far less rainfall than Vietnam. Most people in four of the five least similar countries have Caucasian ancestry. Since Vietnam is not especially rich nor especially poor, the least similar countries are at both extremes. Interestingly enough, although Vietnam uses the Latin alphabet, four of the five least similar countries use it too.
- Canada has few traits in common with Vietnam. Its climate is much colder and its standard of living is much higher. The country is less densely populated and more urbanized. Their governments are especially different. Canada is much more democratic and more rule of law. However, due to recent immigration, there still is a significant population of people with East Asian ancestry living in Canada.
- Niger is a landlocked country in the middle of the Sahara Desert, so its geography is far different from Vietnam. Although both countries were once colonized by France, they have little in common. The country is mostly Muslim and has the youngest average population in the world. It also has a much lower standard of living. One big similarity is that both countries use the Latin alphabet.
- Australia is the closest country in distance to Vietnam of the five least similar countries. They both also have some beautiful beaches, however the similarities largely end there. While Vietnam is mostly rainforest, Australia is mostly desert and has completely different flora and fauna. The country’s technology is also quite different, since they drive on the left and use Type I electrical outlets.
- Yemen is the least similar country in Asia to Vietnam. It is a predominately Muslim country. Its native people speak Arabic. While Vietnam has extremely strict gun control laws, Yemen has few gun control laws. While Vietnam had a civil war in the past, its government now has strong control over the country. Yemen is still enduring a long civil war, so its infrastructure is less developed than Vietnam’s.
- Iceland is one of the coldest countries in the world. Much of Iceland’s landscape is barren and little is used for agriculture. In addition, while Vietnam has a significant military and conscription, Iceland does not even have a military. While they have little in common culturally, both countries do have a significant amount of irreligious people. They also have a lot of coastline.
- Afghanistan, 7. United States, 8. Ireland, 9. Somalia, 10. Libya
Vietnam is like if Laos was more like Taiwan
According to the Index, Laos is the most similar country to Vietnam. However, these countries have some significant differences as well. The data indicates that Taiwan is one country that has many of the traits of Vietnam that Laos lacks. Both Vietnam and Taiwan have a lot of coastline, while Laos is landlocked. In addition, Taiwan and Vietnam have similar religious traditions as well. They both have high rates of atheism but also practice Mahayana Buddhism. Taiwan and Vietnam are also wealthier and have better infrastructure than Laos.
All data accurate as of 2020.