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.
Uruguay is a Latin American country, but it has more characteristics of European countries than other countries in the region. Most people in the five countries most similar to Uruguay are Catholic. In addition, the majority of their people can speak Romance languages. Another aspect these countries have in common is that they are multi-party democracies. With the exception of Paraguay, their laws tend to be more much liberal than most countries. Four of the five countries are located in South America.
Top 10 Places Most Similar to Uruguay
- Argentina is located across the Rio de la Plata from Uruguay. It is the most similar country in demographics, culture, politics, and geography. Both countries are primarily Catholic, although Uruguay is slightly less religious. However, Uruguay and Argentina have slightly different infrastructure. Argentina’s railroads most often use the Iberian gauge. Furthermore, while both countries use Type C electrical outlets, Argentina also uses Type I, while Uruguay also uses Type L.
- Chile is another South American country with a high standard of living. They tend to have more developed infrastructure than other countries in the region. Chile and Uruguay also have extremely similar diets. Their geography is quite different however, since Uruguay is far less mountainous and it grows far more soybeans. Furthermore, Chile is also on the Pacific Coast, not the Atlantic. Still, both countries are highly urbanized and sparsely populated.
- Paraguay is another relatively flat country in South America. Its landscape is virtually identical to Uruguay, although it does not have any coastline. Both countries border Brazil and Argentina. The countries have a similar climate and devote most of their agricultural land to growing soybeans. However, Paraguayans speak the Guarani language, in addition to Spanish. Furthermore, a much higher percentage of its people have Native South American ancestry. It also has a lower standard of living than Uruguay.
- Brazil used to rule the area that is now Uruguay, before it gained its independence in 1828. Its geography is quite similar to the southern portions of Brazil. In addition, both countries share the same electrical grid, which uses mostly hydroelectric power. Both countries celebrate Carnival and excel at soccer. They are also both part of the Mercosur trade bloc. The biggest difference is that Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish.
- Spain is the most similar country in Europe. It also speaks Spanish and has a relatively similar subtropical climate, although Spain is drier. Both countries produce a lot of electricity through wind power. They both have liberal governments as well. They allow same sex marriage, abortion, as well as few restrictions on prostitution. However, Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government, unlike Uruguay.
- Colombia, 7. Venezuela, 8. Peru, 9. Mexico, 10. Portugal
The four least similar countries to Uruguay are predominately Muslim. In addition, the majority of people in these four countries speak Afro-Asiatic languages. Their climates are also much drier than Uruguay’s. All these countries have significantly less advanced infrastructure and their standard of living is also lower as well.
Top 10 Places Least Similar to Uruguay
- Sudan is an Arabic-speaking country in Africa, located to the south of Egypt, in the Sahara Desert. Its conservative governmental policies are quite unlike Uruguay’s. It does not allow gambling, abortion, or alcohol. In addition, its government is lead by the military, following a recent coup. The country recently lost land during civil war to South Sudan.
- Yemen is located in the Arabian Desert across the Red Sea from Sudan. It is another predominately Muslim, Arabic-speaking country with little cultural or technological similarity to Uruguay. Its government is unstable and anarchic, in contrast to Uruguay’s relatively stable democratic government. However, most people in Yemen are considered to be Caucasian, so their ancestry is not completely different from most people in Uruguay.
- Niger is another country in the Sahara Desert on this list. It is landlocked and has little agricultural land. The country was once a French colony before becoming independent, so French is its official language. It has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. In addition, it has the lowest average age of any country.
- Somalia is far poorer and less developed than Uruguay, due to civil war. Its policies, influenced by its Muslim population are extremely conservative, compared to the much liberal Uruguay. However, despite Somali and Spanish being completely unrelated languages, both use the Latin script.
- Bhutan is an extremely mountainous and landlocked country in Asia. It also has the highest average elevation in the world, while Uruguay is fairly flat and has a lot of coastline. In addition, Bhutan has unique traditions since its people are mostly Buddhist. Its language and writing system are completely different from Spanish as well. In addition, their people are more closely related to East Asians than Caucasians.
- Bangladesh, 7. Eritrea, 8. Cambodia, 9. Papua New Guinea, 10. Afghanistan
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Uruguay
All data accurate as of 2020.
Uruguay is like if Argentina was more like the Netherlands
By far the most similar country to Uruguay is Argentina. However these countries do have some distinct differences. The data suggests that the Netherlands is one country that has many of the characteristics of Uruguay that Argentina lacks. One reason is that the Netherlands and Uruguay are two of the countries with the most liberal laws. They both have lenient policies towards drugs. In addition, same sex marriage, abortion, and prostitution are legal in both countries. Like the Netherlands, its people are not particularly religious. Uruguay also adopted more European style technology standards than Argentina as well. It primarily uses Type C electrical outlets and has standard gauge railroad tracks, unlike Argentina. Uruguay and the Netherlands are also less mountainous than Argentina and a higher percentage of their land is close to the coast.
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