Similar Countries with Extremely Different Infrastructure

There are some unique pairs of countries that are quite similar to each other in most aspects except for their infrastructure. 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 five pairs of countries were found to have a biggest difference between their infrastructure and their other aspects, including demographics, culture, government, and geography.


Saudi Arabia and Yemen border each other. They also located along the coast of the Red Sea. These countries have a hot, dry climate as well. As a result, much of their landscape is barren. They are predominately Muslim countries and the majority of their people natively speak Arabic. Both these countries have extremely conservative laws. They criminalize same sex relations and do not allow alcohol. Furthermore, they have few restrictions on guns.

However, Saudi Arabia is much wealthier than Yemen, so its infrastructure is much more developed. Saudi Arabia has significantly more vehicles and televisions per capita. Saudi Arabians also use far more electricity on average. Yemen is still broadcasting television signals in analog, while Saudi Arabia has switched to only broadcasting digital signals. Saudi Arabia’s military is also much better funded and it has a wider array of equipment.


Like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Kuwait and Mauritania are both predominately Muslim countries. Arabic is the official language of both countries as well. These countries also have hot, dry climates and much of their land is barren. Both countries have autocratic governments too. They prohibit alcohol, prostitution, and gambling. Furthermore, they both allow polygamy.

However, Kuwait is significantly wealthier than Mauritania, so its infrastructure us much more developed. Kuwait has a lot more vehicles and televisions per capita. Kuwait also uses far more electricity on average. Furthermore, Mauritania uses Type C, E electrical outlets, while Kuwait uses Type G. Kuwait also spends much more money on its military. Another difference is that Kuwait has to desalinize much of its drinking water, while Mauritanians rely on water from wells.


Most people in Chile and Nicaragua natively speak Spanish. They are also predominately Catholic. The majority of their people have a mix of European and Native American ancestry. They also have slightly more females than males. Both countries border the Pacific Ocean and are mountainous. They have a lot of coastline and most of their people live close to the coast.

However, Chile’s infrastructure is much more developed than Nicaragua’s. It has a more extensive network of highways and railroads. Their standard electrical outlets are different as well. Chile uses Type C, like most European countries, while Nicaragua uses Type A, B, like the United States. They also use different electrical voltages and frequencies. While Russia supplies Nicaragua with much of its military equipment, Chile relies on Switzerland and Germany for its military equipment.


Before 1950, North Korea and South Korea were one country, until civil war broke out between communists and capitalists. Their people are ethnically Korean and speak the same language. They both share the same peninsula and border the Pacific Ocean. As a result, they have a temperate climate as well as similar flora and fauna. Their terrain is also fairly mountainous and both countries have a lot of coastline. Both countries do not allow same sex marriage or prostitution. They also allow abortion and alcohol.

However, North Korean’s infrastructure is significantly less advanced than South Korea’s. It has far fewer vehicles per capita and its network of railroads is not nearly as well developed. South Korea uses far more electricity on average. Well South Korea’s tap water is safe to drink, North Korea’s is significantly more polluted. Furthermore, South Korea has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world, while in stark contrast, few people in North Korea use the internet.


Brunei and Indonesia are both located on tropical islands that border the Pacific Ocean. Most of their people have East Asian ancestry. They are also mostly Sunni Muslim. There is not much difference between Indonesian and the Malay language. They are also quite densely populated. Their laws are similar as well. Both countries do not allow sex marriage or gambling. They also have many restrictions on abortion and alcohol.

However, Brunei is much wealthier than Indonesia, so its infrastructure is better. A much higher percentage of people own cars in Brunei. While Indonesia uses Type C electrical outlets, like the Netherlands, Brunei uses Type G electrical outlets, due to the influence of Great Britain. Brunei also uses different railroad gauge than Indonesia. While Indonesia relies on coal to create electricity, Brunei relies on natural gas.


Greece and Cyprus are incredibly similar countries. Both countries border the Mediterranean Sea and have a lot of coastline. They have the same climate and their farms most commonly grow olives and wheat. A majority of their people natively speak Greek and are Orthodox Christians. Both countries have many college graduates and their average incomes are similar. They are both part of the European Union and use the same currency as well. In addition, they are both democracies that have relatively similar laws.

Unlike other pairings on this list, there is not a huge disparity in their infrastructure’s level of development. However, they have significantly different standards of technology. This is in part a result of Cyprus being administered by the British for several decades. While Greece drives on the right, Cyprus drives on the left. Greece uses Type C, F electrical outlets, while Cyprus uses Type G like the British standard. Another difference is that Cyprus has no railroads still in use. Their sources of energy are different as well. Cyprus relies on oil imports, whereas the majority of electricity in Greece is created from coal power plants.


SAUDI ARABIA YEMEN15.016.411.510.3016.5014.85-4.55
SAUDI ARABIA SUDAN11.914.611.69.0014.6013.175-4.175
EGYPT YEMEN16.517.012.611.3014.9015.25-3.95
CHILE NICARAGUA16.916.013.310.208.7013.725-3.525
OMAN SUDAN11.514.811.89.4013.6012.925-3.525
CHILE HONDURAS16.215.713.410.309.5013.7-3.4
MAURITANIA SAUDI ARABIA13.413.811.510.0014.9013.4-3.4
NORTH KOREA SOUTH KOREA14.314.79.310.2016.0013.575-3.375
BRUNEI INDONESIA15.714.111.510.9015.4014.175-3.275
CYPRUS GREECE 17.616.116.113.7017.4016.8-3.1

(Minimum 63% Country Similarity)

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