Similar Countries, but Different Culture

Most of the time, similar countries speak the same language, use the same writing system, and follow the same religion. However, there are some unique pairs of countries that have a lot in common except for their culture. 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 the biggest difference between their culture and their other characteristics, including demographics, infrastructure, government, and geography.

HUNGARY-NORTH MACEDONIA

Hungary and North Macedonia are both landlocked countries in Eastern Europe. They have a similar temperate climate. Most of their people have Caucasian ancestry. Both countries are parliamentary democracies with unicameral legislatures. Despite this, they have relatively little rule of law. Their technology standards are similar as well. Both countries drive on the right, use standard gauge railroad tracks, and have Type C, F electrical outlets.

However, Hungarian is not an Indo-European language like Macedonian. Furthermore, the Cyrillic alphabet is more commonly used in Macedonia. Furthermore, most Hungarians are Catholic, while most Macedonians are Orthodox Christians. Another difference is that Hungarians tend to be less religious. Hungary’s divorce rate is one of the highest in the world, while North Macedonia has one of the lowest. Hungary also has a lower marriage rate than North Macedonia.

ALBANIA-GEORGIA

Albania and Georgia are both mountainous countries that border the sea. They are among the least wealthy nations in Europe. These countries primarily rely on hydropower to create electricity. Both of their governments are parliamentary democracies and have unicameral legislatures. Their laws are extremely similar as well. Both do not allow same sex marriage or prostitution, however they do allow abortion and gambling.

However, Georgian is not in the Indo-European language family like Albanian. Moreover, Georgia does not use the Latin alphabet, but its own unique alphabet. Furthermore, most Albanians are Muslim, while most Georgians are Christian. Another difference is Georgia tends to do better in the Olympics. In fact, Albania has never won an Olympic medal. Georgia also has a higher divorce rate than Albania.

GREECE-ISRAEL

Both Israel and Greece border the Mediterranean Sea and most of their land is close to the coast. Their people tend to be well educated and they have many college graduates. Both countries are parliamentary democracies with unicameral legislatures that are elected by proportional representation. Their infrastructure is well developed too. Both countries have potable tap water and almost all their people have access to electricity.

However, Hebrew is an Afro-Asiatic language, not an Indo-European language like Greek. Another difference is that these languages have their own unique alphabets. Furthermore, most people in Israel are Jewish, while most Greeks are Orthodox Christian. In addition, Greeks tend to drink significantly more alcohol than Israelis. Their cuisine is also different, since Jews are not supposed to eat pork.

BULGARIA-TURKEY

Turkey and Bulgaria border each other and the Black Sea. Both countries were part of the Ottoman Empire in the past. Their laws are similar. These countries do not allow same sex marriage or polygamy, but have few restrictions on prostitution or abortion. Their technology standards are similar as well. Both countries drive on the right, use standard gauge railroad tracks, and have Type C, F electrical outlets. Their GDP per capita is comparable as well.

However, Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, not a Turkic language. Another difference is that Turkish is written in the Latin alphabet, while Bulgarian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Furthermore, most people in Turkey are Sunni Muslim, while most Bulgarians are Orthodox Christian. As a result, Bulgarians consume far more alcohol. Turks tend to be more interested in basketball than Bulgarians as well.

MYANMAR-VIETNAM

Myanmar and Vietnam are both tropical countries located in Southeast Asia. Rice is by far the most commonly grown crop in these countries. A high percentage of people in these countries work in agriculture. The vast majority have East Asian ancestry. A low percentage of their people own cars. Their medical infrastructure is also not well developed. Their governments are both run by one party. Moreover, they prohibit same sex marriage, polygamy, and prostitution.

However, the Burmese language and the Vietnamese language are unrelated. They also use different writing systems. Vietnamese used to use Chinese characters before switching to the Latin alphabet, while Burmese uses a unique Indic script. Not only do they follow different schools of Buddhism, but Vietnamese are significantly less religious. In fact, Vietnam has no official religious holidays, unlike Myanmar. In addition, Vietnamese tend to drink more alcohol and smoke more cigarettes.

MALAYSIA-THAILAND

Malaysia borders Thailand and both countries have coastline on the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They both have a hot, humid climate. Their major cities tend to have many skyscrapers and high rises. Both countries have parliamentary governments, but have a monarch as their head of state. These countries drive on the left and have one meter gauge railroad tracks as well. Furthermore, coal and natural gas are their two biggest sources of power. The vast majority of people in both countries have access to electricity and drinking water.

However, the Malay and Thai languages are from completely different language families. Another difference is that Malay is primarily written in the Latin alphabet, although they have also used the Arabic script, whereas Thai uses a unique Indic script. Furthermore, most people in Malaysia are Muslim, while most people in Thailand are Buddhist. As a result, Malaysians tend to consume far less alcohol. Malaysians also tend to be more interested in badminton, while boxing is more popular in Thailand.

DATA TABLE

COUNTRIESDEMO.CULT.GOV.INFRA.GEO.AVG. – CULT.DIFF.
HUNGARY NORTH MACEDONIA13.98.315.517.216.214.307.40
CZECHIA NORTH MACEDONIA15.28.915.216.316.414.206.88
LATVIA NORTH MACEDONIA14.58.015.515.613.713.206.83
ALBANIA GEORGIA13.28.215.116.014.114.606.40
HUNGARY SERBIA14.910.216.517.517.516.606.40
GREECE ISRAEL12.77.314.015.912.113.686.38
LUXEMBOURG NORTH MACEDONIA13.58.114.215.214.814.436.33
BULGARIA TURKEY13.18.113.716.514.414.436.33
ITALY ISRAEL11.97.313.616.812.213.636.33
MYANMAR VIETNAM14.07.712.614.115.314.006.30
MALAYSIA THAILAND12.87.811.915.915.614.056.25

(Minimum 63% similarity, excluding culture)

Please see the complimentary article, that lists countries with a lot of cultural 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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