Least Similar Bordering Countries

Most of the time, countries that border each other are similar to each other. However, there are a few notable borders that break this trend. These tend to be in extremely mountainous areas, sparsely populated deserts and dense forests. This only examines countries with land borders. According to the Country Similarity Index, China and Afghanistan are the least similar countries that border each other. Their demographics, culture, governments, infrastructure, and geography are extremely different. In fact, eight of the ten least similar pairs of bordering countries involve China. This article focuses on the three least similar bordering countries.

1. Afghanistan – China

Fittingly, the border between China and Afghanistan has no roads between them, since it is extremely mountainous and sparsely populated. China built a barbed wire fence along this border, which is less than 100 km long. At 3 hours, 30 minutes time difference, it is also the point where the clock changes the most on each side of a border.

Their demographics and cultures are quite different. Most Afghanis have Caucasian ancestry, while most Chinese have East Asian ancestry. While Chinese tend to follow Buddhism and their own traditional religions, Afghanistan is mostly Muslim. Furthering the contrast, Chinese are far less religious than Afghanis. Their languages and writing systems also are completely unrelated. Furthermore, soccer and basketball are more popular in China, while Cricket is the most followed sport in Afghanistan.

Although both countries are not very democratic, Afghanistan’s laws are more conservative than China’s. Afghanistan does not allow abortion or alcohol. It also criminalizes same sex relations and has less restrictions on guns than China.

Their infrastructure is also far different. China’s is much more advanced. While China’s large cities typically have many skyscrapers and high-rises, there are no skyscrapers in Afghanistan. In addition, Afghanistan lacks passenger rail, while China has large network of high speed trains and many of its major cities have subways.

Their geography is also significantly different. Although both countries are located in Asia and are quite mountainous, China’s landscape has a much greater variety of climates and biomes. Still, the Tibet Autonomous Region is not far different from Afghanistan’s landscape.

2. China – Pakistan

The border between China and Pakistan is significantly longer than China’s border with Afghanistan. The exact boundary lines remain in dispute. It is located in another incredibly mountainous stretch of territory where few people live. There is a road between the two countries, but it is the highest paved border crossing in the world.

Like Afghanistan, Pakistan is mostly Muslim. Its languages and writing system is completely unrelated to Chinese. It is not nearly as successful as China in the Olympics. Most of its medals have been won in field hockey, a sport that has little following in China.

Their infrastructure is especially different. Not only is Pakistan’s technology less advanced, but it also has different standards. Its cars drive on the left, it uses Indian gauge railroad tracks, and it has Type D electrical outlets, unlike China. They have less cars per capita.

Pakistan’s system of government is also unlike China’s. It is more democratic and has a parliamentary system, not a semi-presidential system. Furthermore, it has a bicameral legislature and many parties, unlike China.

3. North Korea – Russia

The border between North Korea and Russia is along the Tumen River. It is less than 20 km long. Although no roads cross this river, there is a railroad bridge in regular use between the two countries.

The demographics in North Korea and Russia are extremely different. North Koreans have East Asian ancestry, while most Russians have Caucasian ancestry. It has an older population than North Korea. Furthermore, its people are more affluent and have a much higher percentage of college graduates than North Korea.

Their culture is also extremely different as well. The Korean language and writing system is completely unrelated to Russian. However, both countries do have a high percentage of atheists, although most people are Orthodox Christian in Russia. Russian also has a far higher divorce rate than North Korea.

North Korea is also more densely populated than Russia. It also gets far more rainfall on average. Most of North Korea is deciduous forest, while Russia is dominated by conifer trees due to its colder climate. Russia’s most popular crops are wheat, barley, and sunflower, while North Korea’s are corn, rice, and beans.

List of low similarity borders

(under 64 similarity)

1CHINAAFGHANISTAN44.2
2CHINAPAKISTAN46.1
3RUSSIANORTH KOREA46.7
4CHINANEPAL47.0
5CHINAINDIA48.4
6CHINARUSSIA50.5
7CHINABHUTAN52.0
8MOROCCOSPAIN53.3
9CHINATAJIKISTAN53.3
10CHINAKYRGYZSTAN53.5
11CHINAMYANMAR54.0
12CHINALAOS55.5
13CHINAKAZAKHSTAN55.5
14INDONESIAPAPUA NEW GUINEA56.1
15CHINAMONGOLIA56.5
16MONGOLIARUSSIA56.6
17BHUTANINDIA56.8
18CENT. AFR. REP.SUDAN57.1
19INDIAMYANMAR57.8
20LIBYANIGER58.0
21CHADLIBYA58.4
22EGYPTISRAEL58.8
23BANGLADESHMYANMAR58.8
24ARMENIAIRAN58.9
25MOZAMBIQUESOUTH AFRICA60.4
26GUYANAVENEZUELA60.5
27AFGHANISTANTURKMENISTAN60.8
28IRAQTURKEY60.9
29ALGERIANIGER60.9
30AZERBAIJANRUSSIA61.0
31ISRAELLEBANON61.4
32ISRAELJORDAN61.4
33CHINANORTH KOREA61.8
34NORWAYRUSSIA62.1
35AFGHANISTANUZBEKISTAN62.1
36ALGERIAMALI62.5
37KENYASOMALIA62.9
38ARMENIATURKEY62.9
39EAST TIMORINDONESIA63.1
40DJIBOUTIETHIOPIA63.1
41IRANPAKISTAN63.5
42FINLANDRUSSIA63.6
43BRAZILGUYANA63.6
44BRAZILSURINAME63.7
45MEXICOUNITED STATES63.9

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