Similar Countries, but Different Geography

For the most part, countries with that are close in proximity to each other tend to also share many other characteristics. Still, there are some unique pairs of countries that are quite similar, except that their geography is far different. A list of these countries was developed by analyzing the data from the Country Similarity Index, which 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 and the United Kingdom have a huge amount in common. Australia was once a British colony. The two countries still even share a monarch. As a result, both countries have English as their official language. Most of their people have European ancestry. They are also mostly Christian, although they are not especially religious. Furthermore, they have a high standard of living and their infrastructure is well developed. Both countries drive on the left side of the road.

However, Australia is on a different continent on the opposite side of the globe. As a result, their flora and fauna is vastly different from the United Kingdom. Australia’s climate is also much drier and hotter. While most of the land in the United Kingdom is used for agriculture, a low percentage of Australia’s land is used for farming. Furthermore, Australia is far less densely populated and a lower percentage of its land is built up.


Argentina and Costa Rica were both colonies of Spain. Their people are mostly Catholic and the majority natively speak Spanish. The average age of their people is nearly the same. They also have a similar level of education. Their laws are also alike. Both allow same sex marriage and have decriminalized marijuana for personal use. Their governments both use the presidential system of government and their courts follow Civil Law.

Despite these similarities, Argentina is located in South America, while Costa Rica is part of North America. Costs Rica’s climate is hot and humid, while Argentina’s is much cooler and drier. Costa Rica’s land has dense tropical rainforests, whereas Argentina’s landscape is mostly grasslands and farmlands. Their agriculture is far different as well. Argentina’s most common crop is wheat, while Costa Rica grows a lot of coffee, sugar, and palm oil. It is also less densely populated.


Botswana and Jamaica were both colonized by the British and they use English as their official language. Furthermore, their people are predominately Protestant. The majority have Sub-Saharan African ancestry as well. According to the Lewis Model, their people tend to be quite friendly and outgoing. Their governments are both democracies as well. Their infrastructure has a similar level of development and both countries drive on the left side of the road.

However, Botswana is located in Southern Africa, while Jamaica is in North America. Botswana is landlocked and has a much drier climate than the island of Jamaica. As a result, Jamaica is mostly tropical rainforests, whereas Botswana’s land has a lot of drought tolerant shrubs. Their agriculture is not similar as well. Botswana grows a lot of corn, while Jamaica grows a lot of coconuts. Botswana’s population density is much more sparse than Jamaica’s too.


Colombia and Moldova are both predominately Christian countries. Spanish and Romanian are similar Romance languages and they both use the Latin alphabet. These countries are both democracies, but have little rule of law. Their infrastructure is not especially well developed or poor. Their GDP per capita is also similar. Both countries have liberal laws regarding drugs, abortion, and alcohol. Soccer is the most popular sport in these countries as well.

However, Moldova is a landlocked country in Europe with relatively flat terrain. Colombia is located in South America. It is more significantly mountainous than Moldova and has more coastline. While the vast majority of Moldova is farmland, Colombia’s land is heavily forested. Their crops are far different as well. Moldova grows more corn, sunflower, and wheat, while Colombia grows more rice, coffee, and sugarcane. Their natural flora and fauna is also significantly different.


Most people in Iraq and Lebanon speak Arabic. These countries also have many Sunni Muslims. The majority of their people have Caucasian ancestry. Their technology standards are also alike. Both countries drive on the right and most of their railroad tracks are standard gauge. The also use the same electrical voltage and frequency. Their GDP per capita is also similar. Both countries do not allow abortion or same sex marriage. They also allow polygamy and alcohol.

However, Iraq is nearly landlocked, while most of Lebanon’s land is close to the Mediterranean coast. Iraq also gets far less rainfall, so most of its landscape is barren desert. Lebanon’s farms more often grow olives than Iraq’s. Furthermore, less than 10% of Iraq’s land is considered to be mountainous, while over 80% of Lebanon’s land is. Lebanon is also far more densely populated and has a higher percentage of urban land than Iraq.


Both Lesotho and Papua New Guinea were once British colonies before becoming independent, so both use English as one of their official languages. They also drive on the left. Furthermore, they are parliamentary democracies. These countries also have a mix of Protestants and Catholics. The average age of their populations is quite young. Around 90% of the people in both countries are subsistence farmers and their poverty rates are high.

However, Lesotho is a landlocked country in African, while Papua New Guinea is located on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The vast majority of Papua New Guinea’s lands are forested. It has a hot and humid climate. In contrast, Lesotho is mostly grassland and has few trees. Its climate is also significantly cooler and drier than Papua New Guinea’s. Lesotho is also more densely populated.


AUSTRALIA GREAT BRITAIN18.417.215.515.87.916.7-8.8
ARGENTINA COSTA RICA17.516.214.313.97.215.5-8.3
AUSTRALIA NETHERLANDS17.213.413.414.96.814.7-7.9
AUSTRALIA IRELAND17.816.414.715.88.316.2-7.9
CHILE COSTA RICA18.416.714.413.88.115.8-7.7
BOTSWANA JAMAICA15.713.611.911.85.613.3-7.7
AUSTRALIA SWITZERLAND16.812.812.714.46.714.2-7.5
AUSTRALIA CANADA18.016.415.814.78.916.2-7.3
CANADA NEW ZEALAND17.116.515.814.18.615.9-7.3
JAMAICA NAMIBIA14.613.313.111.55.913.1-7.2
AUSTRALIA TRINIDAD & TOBAGO13.914.613.012.06.313.4-7.1
AUSTRALIA AUSTRIA16.612.612.414.57.014.0-7.0
CANADA TRINIDAD & TOBAGO13.213.813.912.36.313.3-7.0
JAMAICA SOUTH AFRICA15.613.711.912.06.313.3-7.0
COLOMBIA MOLDOVA13.411.413.613.15.912.9-7.0
ARGENTINA PANAMA17.216.213.512.17.814.8-7.0
ARGENTINA EL SALVADOR17.015.413.712.57.714.7-7.0
MEXICO URUGUAY17.116.213.814.28.415.3-6.9
ARGENTINA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC16.715.514.012.97.914.8-6.9
BELGIUM CANADA16.814.213.714.27.914.7-6.8
AUSTRALIA BELGIUM16.512.213.514.27.314.1-6.8
IRAQ LEBANON16.715.114.515.28.615.4-6.8
AUSTRALIA DENMARK17.413.113.413.87.714.4-6.7
EGYPT LEBANON16.916.012.715.18.515.2-6.7
CANADA NETHERLANDS16.013.213.414.97.714.4-6.7
EL SALVADOR URUGUAY16.615.912.712.67.914.5-6.6
CHILE PANAMA17.316.514.412.88.715.3-6.6
LESOTHO PAPUA NEW GUINEA11.311.512.315.46.112.6-6.5

(Minimum 63% similarity excluding geography)
Please see the complimentary article, that lists countries with a lot of geographical similarity, but have little else in common.

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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