Similar Geography, but Different Countries

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. Both countries are mostly hot, dry deserts. Much of their vegetation is drought tolerant shrubs, but they have large swathes of tropical savanna lands too. They are also quite sparsely populated. Furthermore, these countries have a lot of coastline and they both border the Indian Ocean. They are not especially mountainous as well.

However, Somalians have more Sub-Saharan African ancestry than Australians. They are also mostly Muslim, while Australians are mostly Christian. In addition, their people natively speak Afro-Asiatic languages, not Indo-European languages. Somalia also has more conservative laws and its government has less rule of law. 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. The climate in these countries is quite dry. Grasslands and desert shrublands are their two largest biomes. By far the most important crop is wheat in these countries. They have similar fauna as well. Their terrain is also similar since both countries are fairly mountainous.

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. Their laws are vastly different. Afghanistan allows polygamy and does not allow alcohol or abortion, unlike Mongolia. While Mongolia relies on coal power to create electricity, 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. As a result, an important crop in both countries is rice. Their landscapes are a mix of tropical forests and farmlands. They 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.

SIERRA LEONE-THAILAND

While Thailand is in Asia and Sierra Leone is in Africa, they still share a lot in common geographically. Both countries are slightly north of the equator. They also have a hot and humid climate, so their natural landscapes are both tropical forests. Their flora is distantly related since they are both part of the Paleotropical Kingdom. Most of the land in both countries is devoted to rice farming. These countries also have approximately the same population density.

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.

BRUNEI-EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Brunei and Equatorial Guinea are another pair of Asian and African countries that have similar geography. Both countries are slightly north of the equator. The vast majority of the land in these countries is covered by dense tropical rainforests, since they have quite hot climates and a lot of rainfall. Their flora is distantly related too since they are both part of the Paleotropical Kingdom. In addition, most of the land in these countries is relatively close to the coast.

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.

NEPAL – SWITZERLAND

Nepal and Switzerland are both on the Eurasian continent, although they are quite distant from each other. Both countries are extremely mountainous and landlocked. They also have a similar average temperature and precipitation. These countries have large areas of coniferous forests. They have around the same percentage of agricultural and forested land. Furthermore, they have a similar population density.

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. Their technology standards are different too. Switzerland drives on the right and uses Type C, J electrical outlets.

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)

Please see the complimentary article, that lists countries with a lot of overall similarity, except for their geography.

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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