Extremely Different Countries with Similar Geography

For the most part, countries with similar geography tend to also share many other characteristics. Still, there are some unique pairs of countries that may have a similar climate and terrain, but have little else in common. A list of these countries was developed by analyzing the data from the Country Similarity Index, that weighs equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The following six pairs of countries were found to have a biggest difference between their geography and their other aspects, including demographics, culture, politics, and infrastructure.

AUSTRALIA-SOMALIA

Australia and Somalia may not be on the same continent, but they have a lot in common geographically. They both border the Indian Ocean and have a lot of coastline. Over 75% of the land area in these countries has a hot, dry climate. As a result, much of their vegetation is drought tolerant desert shrublands and dry savanna grasslands. They are also quite sparsely populated. Furthermore, less than 10% of the land in Australia and Somalia is considered to be mountainous. Both countries have an average elevation of less than 500 meters above sea level.

However, most Australians have Caucasian ancestry, since they immigrated from Europe, whereas Somalians have mostly Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Almost all Somalians are Muslim, while Australians are mostly Christian. In addition, their people natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages, not Indo-European languages. Somalia also has far more conservative laws. It does not allow abortion, gambling, or alcohol. Moreover, their technology is far different. Not only is Australia more developed, but it also drives on the left and uses Type I electrical outlets unlike Somalia.

AFGHANISTAN-MONGOLIA

Both Afghanistan and Mongolia are landlocked countries in Asia. In fact, since they are so far from the coast, most of the water in these countries does not even flow into an ocean. Both countries get around 30 cm of precipitation per year, although Afghanistan is considerably warmer. Their vegetation mainly consists of grasslands and desert shrubs. Less than 10% of their land is forested. Wheat is by far the most common crop in both countries, although a low percentage of their land is cultivated. Both countries are fairly mountainous. Their average elevations are over 1,500 meters above sea level.

While Mongolians have mostly East Asian ancestry, Afghanis have mostly Caucasian ancestry. Mongolians are predominately Buddhist, whereas the majority of Afghanis are Muslim. Their native languages are unrelated as well. Mongolians use Cyrillic, while Afghanis use the Arabic script. Their laws are vastly different too. Afghanistan allows polygamy and does not allow alcohol or abortion, unlike Mongolia. Furthermore, Mongolia relies on coal power to create electricity, while Afghanistan relies on hydropower.

PHILIPPINES-TAIWAN

The Philippines and Taiwan are both located on mountainous islands in the Pacific Ocean and border the South China Sea. They are also located in the same time zone. Furthermore, these countries have hot, humid climates as well. Their average temperature is around 25 degrees Celcius and they get around 240 cm of rainfall per year. As a result, rice is a commonly grown crop in both countries. Their landscapes are a mix of tropical forests and farmlands. The Philippines and Taiwan are quite densely populated and their largest cities tend to have many high rise buildings.

The average age of people in the Philippines is much younger than Taiwan. In addition, its people are not nearly as wealthy. Since the Philippines was colonized by Spain and the United States, it is far more Westernized. Most people in the Philippines are Catholic, whereas Taiwanese tend to follow Buddhism and traditional Chinese religions. Their languages and writing systems are completely unrelated as well. Furthermore, the infrastructure in Taiwan is much more developed. Filipinos have far fewer vehicles per capita and they also do not have high-speed rail.

SIERRA LEONE-THAILAND

While Thailand is in Asia and Sierra Leone is in Africa, these countries still share a lot in common geographically. Both are within 10 degrees north of the equator. They also have hot and humid climates, so their natural landscapes are both tropical forests. Their native plants are distantly related since they are both part of the Paleotropical Kingdom. Around 70% of their land is used for agriculture, with most of it devoted to rice farming. Thailand and Sierra Leone also have approximately 120 people per square kilometer as well.

Most people in Sierra Leone have African ancestry, while Thais have East Asian ancestry. The average age in Sierra Leone is significantly lower Thailand’s and its birth rate is much higher. Sierra Leone is mostly Muslim whereas Thailand is predominately Buddhist. Furthermore, the native languages and writing systems in these countries are unrelated. Another big difference is their infrastructure. Sierra Leone drives on the right and uses Type G electrical outlets, unlike Thailand. Sierra Leone uses significantly less energy per capita and also has far fewer vehicles.

BRUNEI-EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Brunei and Equatorial Guinea are another pair of Asian and African countries that have similar geography. Both countries are within 10 degrees north of the equator. Over 85% of the land in these countries is covered by dense tropical rainforests, since their climates are quite hot and they get a lot of rainfall. Their plants are distantly related too since they are both part of the Paleotropical Kingdom. In addition, most of the land in these countries is within 100 kilometers from the ocean. Furthermore, only 10 to 20 percent of the terrain in Brunei and Equatorial Guinea is mountainous.

Most people in Equatorial Guinea have African ancestry, while most people in Brunei have East Asian ancestry. Brunei is mostly Muslim whereas Equatorial Guinea is predominately Christian. Furthermore, most people in Equatorial Guinea speak Niger-Congo languages, while most people in Brunei speak Austronesian languages. Another big difference is their infrastructure. Brunei drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets, unlike Equatorial Guinea. Furthermore, Brunei has far more vehicles per capita and also uses much more energy per capita.

NEPAL – SWITZERLAND

Nepal and Switzerland are both on the Eurasian continent, although they are quite distant from each other. Over 80% of their land is considered to be mountainous. In addition, they are both landlocked. These countries also have a similar average temperature and precipitation. Switzerland is about 5 degrees Celcius, while Nepal is around 8 degrees Celcius on average. They both have large areas of coniferous forests. Around 40% of their land is forested. Furthermore, Nepal and Switzerland have around 200 people per square kilometer.

While Switzerland is one of the wealthiest and most educated countries in the world, Nepal has a significantly lower standard of living. The majority of people in Nepal are Hindu, whereas the Swiss are mostly Christian, but also less religious. In addition, the Nepalese language uses the Devanagari script, in contrast to the official languages used in Switzerland, which use the Latin script. Their technology standards are different too. Switzerland drives on the right and generally uses the Standard railroad gauge, while Nepal drives on the left and uses the Indian broad gauge.

DATA TABLE

COUNTRIESDEMO.CULT.GOV.INFRA.GEO.GEO. – AVG.DIFF.
AUSTRALIA SOMALIA4.97.46.25.312.75.956.75
AFGHANISTAN MONGOLIA7.15.69.714.115.79.136.58
PHILIPPINES TAIWAN10.35.410.912.416.29.756.45
SIERRA LEONE THAILAND6.46.58.98.6147.606.40
BRUNEI EQUAT. GUINEA7.77.210.58.114.88.386.43
NEPAL SWITZERLAND6.94.810.6713.77.336.38

(Minimum 63% Geographical Similarity)

Do you agree with this list? Any other pairs of countries that you would add?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

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