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 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is a Central Asian country. The five most similar countries to it were all once part of the USSR. In addition, they all have a majority Muslim population but their governments have secular laws. Most people in the top four countries speak Turkic languages that are highly related to Turkmen. Furthermore, they are all landlocked and their climates are dry. With the exception of Kyrgyzstan, these countries are not very democratic as well.
- Uzbekistan is located to the north of Turkmenistan. Both countries are sparsely populated deserts that rely on a lot of irrigation to water their crops, which consist mostly of wheat, but also cotton. Both countries also have a similar diet. They mostly eat beef and lamb meat. In addition, both countries have presidents that are dictators, but Turkmenistan’s is more extreme. Another difference is that Uzbekistan does not border the Caspian Sea.
- Kazakhstan is similar to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, especially politically, demographically, and culturally. In addition, both countries do not allow same sex marriage or polygamy, but they allow alcohol and abortion. However, Kazakhstan has far more Russians. In addition, its economy is more prosperous. Another difference is their source of electricity. While Turkmenistan relies on natural gas, Kazakhstan uses mostly coal power plants.
- Kyrgyzstan is another landlocked country with a dry climate, however it is much more mountainous and colder than Turkmenistan. Still, its demographics and culture are similar to Turkmenistan. One big difference is that Kyrgyzstan is the only multi-party democracy in Central Asia, in stark contrast to Turkmenistan. It also does not do as much irrigation. Both countries grow a lot of wheat, but Kyrgyzstan grows less cotton.
- Azerbaijan is just across the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan. Due to abundant reserves of natural gas in the region, both countries entirely rely on it to create electricity. In addition, both countries have authoritarian rulers. However, its people have significantly less East Asian ancestry than Turkmenistan. In addition, Azerbaijan is more affluent. It has many skyscrapers and high-rises, while Turkmenistan does not have any buildings taller than 150 meters.
- Tajikistan is unique among former USSR countries in Central Asia, since its native people have mostly Persian ancestry, not Turkic. Still, their holidays are incredibly similar, due to shared Islamic and Russian influence. Like Turkmenistan, its government heavily censors the internet. Both countries have blocked YouTube and Facebook. Like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan is much more mountainous than Turkmenistan.
- Iran, 7. Egypt, 8. Turkey, 9. Syria, 10. Algeria
Top 10 Countries Least Similar to Turkmenistan
The least similar countries to Turkmenistan are all located on islands that get a lot of rainfall and are heavily forested. Four of the five border the Pacific Ocean. The least similar countries are also all democracies that have significantly less censorship. Their infrastructure is also quite different. All five countries do not use Type C electrical outlets. Four of the five least similar drive on the left, in contrast to Turkmenistan.
- Japan is technically on the same continent as Turkmenistan, but it is extremely different. Its culture is especially different. One reason is that Japanese do not follow an Abrahamic religion. Furthermore, its language and writing system are completely different. Their diet is also quite different since they eat a lot of pork fish, and rice in contrast to Turkmens. Still, people in Turkmenistan do have some East Asian ancestry, although it is mixed with Caucasian ancestry.
- Papua New Guinea is another mountainous island country in the Pacific Ocean on this list. However, unlike Japan, it is on the other end of the economic spectrum. It has a high percentage of forested area and one of the highest rainfall amounts in the world. It has little in common demographically, technologically, or culturally with Turkmenistan as well.
- Solomon Islands is very similar to Papua New Guinea. However, the standard of living in the Solomon Islands is slightly higher. Most of its land is near the coast and it is quite mountainous, in stark contrast to Turkmenistan. Still, both countries have a low population density. The country is mostly Christian.
- Taiwan is the fourth straight country on an island in the Pacific Ocean with little similarity to Turkmenistan. The country is much more densely populated than Turkmenistan. Its government also has more liberal laws. Taiwan allows prostitution and same-sex marriage. However, Taiwan has banned gambling, while Turkmenistan allows it.
- Bahamas is the least similar country in North America. It was colonized by Great Britain, although it is highly different, since its people are of mostly African ancestry. Furthermore, it is a highly developed tropical island group, unlike Turkmenistan, which is landlocked and poorer. However, neither country is very mountainous.
- Jamaica, 7. Singapore, 8. New Zealand, 9. Samoa, 10. Trinidad & Tobago
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Turkmenistan is like if Uzbekistan was more like Iran
Uzbekistan is by far the most similar country to Turkmenistan, according to the Index. There is not a huge amount of difference between these countries, so few countries are a lot more similar to Turkmenistan than they are to Uzbekistan. The data indicates that Iran has a few more characteristics in common with it. Their governments do more censorship and block many websites. Furthermore, Turkmens tend to have less East Asian ancestry and more Caucasian ancestry than Uzbeks. In addition, both Turkmenistan and Iran are wealthier than Uzbekistan.
Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to Turkmenistan
All data accurate as of 2020.
Most Similar Demographics: Uzbekistan
Most Similar Culture: Uzbekistan
Most Similar Government: Azerbaijan
Most Similar Infrastructure: Azerbaijan
Most Similar Geography: Uzbekistan
Least Similar Demographics: Burundi
Least Similar Culture: Japan
Least Similar Government: Ireland
Least Similar Infrastructure: Solomon Islands
Least Similar Geography: Trinidad & Tobago