The data from the Country Similarity Index was used to find extremely different countries that are considered to be part of the same continent. Countries that have territory in two different continents were considered to be a part of the continent where the majority of their land is located. The following pairs of countries are the least similar countries on each continent:
ASIA – 27.9 similarity
No two countries on the same continent are more different that Japan and Yemen, in fact few pairs of countries are less similar. These countries are located at opposite sides of Asia and they have six hours of time difference between them. While Yemen is mostly barren desert, a high percentage of Japan’s land is forested. Japan’s climate is significantly colder and wetter. Furthermore, Japan is much more densely populated.
While most people in Yemen have Caucasian ancestry, the majority of Japanese have East Asian ancestry. Furthermore, Japan has the oldest average population in the world, whereas the average person in Yemen is only 20 years old. Japanese tend to be far more educated and wealthier. Few people work in agriculture there, while the vast majority of people in Yemen do.
Their culture is far different as well. Yemen is mostly Muslim, while the Japanese follow Shintoism and Buddhism. Japanese also tend to be less religious. Their languages are writing systems are completely different. In contrast to Japan, people in Yemen are not supposed to drink alcohol or eat pork. Most people in Yemen are circumcised, whereas few Japanese are.
Yemen’s infrastructure is much less developed than Japan’s. They also have different technology standards. Japan drives on the left and uses Type A, B electrical outlets, unlike Yemen. Japan’s TV broadcast standard is ISDB, in stark contrast analog broadcasting is still the standard in Yemen. While Japan’s train network is one of the best in the world, Yemen does not even have a railroad.
Their governments are far different as well. Japan is a democracy, while Yemen’s government would be best described as anarchic, due to years of civil war. Furthermore, Yemen’s laws are more conservative. Japan’s gun control policies are significantly stricter than Yemen’s. Japan also gives a greater amount of welfare benefits to its citizens.
AFRICA – 41.1 similarity
While Eritrea has a desert climate, Mauritius has a tropical climate, so Mauritius has more forests and farmlands. Mauritius is also significantly more densely populated, since it is a small island. Eritrea is in the Northern Hemisphere, while Mauritius is in the Southern. However, these countries only have one hour of time difference.
Since many indentured servants were brought to Mauritius from South Asia. A high percentage of the country has Indian ancestry. The birth rate is significantly lower in Mauritius. Its people have more average years of schooling and more average wealth than people in Yemen. A much lower percentage of people in Mauritius work in agriculture.
Most people in Mauritius speak French Creole, while the majority of people in Eritrea speak Afro-Asiatic languages. They also use different writing systems, since Eritrea uses the unique Ge’ez script. Another difference is that a majority of people in Mauritius are Hindu, although both countries do have many Christians and Muslims as well.
The infrastructure in Mauritius is better developed than in Eritrea. More people have access to electricity and drinking water there. Since Mauritius was once a British colony, it drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets. A much greater percentage of people in Eritrea are in the military.
The biggest difference might be their governments. Eritrea is a one-party authoritarian state, while Mauritius is parliamentary democracy with many parties. Their laws are different as well. Prostitution and abortion are not allowed in Mauritius, while Eritrea has less restrictions on these laws. Eritrea also bans gambling, unlike Mauritius.
NORTH AMERICA – 43.2 similarity
The latitudes of Canada and Haiti are far different. Because of this, Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world, while Haiti is located on a tropical island. Because of this big difference in climate, their crops and plants are significantly different. Canada is much more sparsely populated as well. Although both countries are considered to be part of North America, Haiti is on a different tectonic plate.
Most people in Canada have Caucasian ancestry, in contrast most Haitians have Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Far more people in Canada are college educated. Literacy is nearly universal in Canada, in contrast to Haiti. Furthermore, Canada’s poverty rate is much lower than Haiti’s. Another difference is that the average Canadian is nearly 20 years older than the average Haitian.
While both countries have French as one of their official languages, the majority of Canadians natively speak English. Canadians also tend to be significantly less religious than Haitians. According to the Lewis Model, Haitians are far more outgoing than Canadians. While Canada is a winter sports powerhouse, few Haitians have even been to the Winter Olympics.
Haiti is significantly less democratic than Canada. There is also much less rule of law in Haiti. These countries also use different forms of government. Canada uses the parliamentary system, while Haiti uses the semi-presidential system. Furthermore, abortion and same sex marriage are not allowed in Haiti.
Canada has far more vehicles per person than Haiti. In addition, Haiti does not even have a working railroad. Most of Haiti’s electricity is created from oil power, while Canada mostly relies on hydropower. Canada also has faster internet speeds and cleaner tap water. However, both countries do drive on the right and use Type A, B electrical outlets.
EUROPE – 53.0 similarity
Iceland is an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean, while Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Most of the land in Moldova is used for farming, but Iceland has few farms because of its extremely cold climate. Iceland is extremely mountainous and has many volcanos, but Moldova’s terrain is quite flat. Moldova is also more densely populated.
While the majority of people in both countries have Caucasian ancestry, it is much more common for people in Iceland to have blue eyes and blonde hair than in Moldova. Iceland’s population is significantly more wealthy than Moldova’s. It also has higher employment rates for both men and women.
Although both countries are predominately Christian, most people in Moldova are Orthodox, while most people in Iceland are Protestant. Moreover, Moldovans are significantly more religious. These countries both use the Latin alphabet, but their languages are not that similar. Moldovans also tend to drink more alcohol and smoke more cigarettes. Corn is a much bigger part of the diet in Moldova.
There is significantly less rule of law and democracy in Moldova compared to Iceland. While Iceland allows same sex marriage, it does not allow gambling, unlike Moldova. Military service is mandatory for males in Moldova, in contrast Iceland does not even have a military.
The infrastructure in Iceland is more advanced than in Moldova. Iceland consumes far more electricity. Furthermore, Iceland relies on hydropower and other renewable resources, while Moldova relies on natural gas. Still, both countries drive on the right and use Type C, F electrical outlets.
SOUTH AMERICA – 53.5 similarity
Chile is located along the Pacific coast, while Guyana is on the Atlantic Coast. Guyana is one of the most heavily forest countries in the world, while large parts of Chile are barren desert. Since Chile is located along the Andes Mountains, its terrain is far more mountainous than relatively flat Guyana. Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, whereas Guyana is in the Northern.
Most people in Chile have a mix of Native South American and Caucasian ancestry. Guyana’s population has a mix of people with South Asian and Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Chileans are also significantly wealthier. On average they are also slightly older than people from Guyana.
Since Guyana was a British colony, English is the official language in Guyana, while Spanish is the official language in Chile. Both countries are mostly Christian, but Guyana is mostly Protestant, while Chile is mostly Catholic. Guyana is also far more religious diverse. It also has many Hindus and Muslims. Cricket is the most popular sport in Guyana, while soccer is more popular in Chile.
However, their governments are not far different. Both are multi-party democracies and use the presidential system. Still, the legal system in Guyana is largely based on Common Law. Prostitution is legal in Chile, while it is strictly prohibited in Guyana.
Their infrastructure is significantly different as well. Guyana drives on the right and uses Type A, B electrical outlets, unlike Chile. Internet speeds tend to be much better in Chile as well. Furthermore, Chile’s military is also much more sophisticated than Guyana’s.
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