Same Language, but Very Different Countries

Most of the time, countries use the same language are very similar. However, there are some exceptions. A few pairs of countries speak the same language, but have little else in common. A list of these countries was developed by analyzing the data from theĀ Country Similarity Index, that weighs equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. For the purposes of this article, both countries must have the same official language and most of their people must speak the language natively (including dialects and creole varieties).

FRANCE-HAITI

Haiti was once a colony of France before it became independent in 1804. As a result, the official language in both countries is French. However, the creole language most people in Haiti speak natively is not mutually intelligible with French.

Besides language, these countries are vastly different. Haiti is on a tropical island in the Caribbean Sea, while France is located in Europe and has a more temperate climate. Moreover, the majority of people in Haiti have African ancestry, unlike France. Haiti’s infrastructure is also far less advanced than France’s. Their people have fewer vehicles and televisions per capita, as well as less access to the internet. France mostly relies on nuclear power to create electricity, while Haiti primarily uses oil. Haiti also bans abortions and same sex marriage.

Other very different pairs of French speaking countries: FranceMauritius, HaitiMauritius

GUYANA-UNITED KINGDOM

Guyana was once a colony of the United Kingdom before it became independent in 1966. As a result, the official language in both countries is English. However, the creole language most people in Guyana speak natively is significantly different from British English.

Despite having the same official language, these countries are far different. Guyana is a heavily forested, sparsely populated nation in South America. In contrast, the United Kingdom has few forests, since much of its land is used for agriculture. Furthermore, most people have African or South Asian ancestry in Guyana, while most British people have caucasian ancestry. The UK’s infrastructure is also significantly more advanced than Guyana’s. It also has more liberal laws, since same sex marriage and unorganized prostitution are allowed in the UK.

Other very different pairs of English speaking countries: CanadaGuyana, GuyanaNew Zealand

ANGOLA-PORTUGAL

Angola was once a colony of Portugal, before it became independent in the 1960s. As a result, Portuguese is still the official language in both countries. Unlike many other African countries, the majority of people speak the official language fluently.

However, Angola is located in Africa, while Portugal is in Europe. Moreover, the majority of people in Angola have African ancestry and work in agriculture, unlike Portugal. In addition, Portugal’s government is much more democratic than Angola’s. It also has more rule of law. Furthermore, Portugal has a much higher standard of living. Their crops are quite different as well. Portugal grows many olives and grapes, while Angola grows a lot of corn.

Other very different pairs of Portuguese speaking countries: BrazilAngola, Cape VerdeAngola

NETHERLANDS-SURINAME

Suriname was once a colony of the Netherlands before 1954. As a result, most people in Suriname natively speak Dutch. Unlike in Guyana and Haiti, standard Dutch, not a creole language, is natively spoken in Suriname.

However, Suriname is a densely forested, sparsely populated country in South America. In contrast, the Netherlands is extremely densely populated and much of its land is either urban land or farmland. Suriname is also much more racially and religiously diverse than the Netherlands. It has far more people with South Asian and African ancestry. It also has a greater percentage of people who are Hindu and Muslim. Suriname’s infrastructure is far less advanced than the Netherlands. It drives on the left. It also uses a different electrical voltage and frequency.

Other very different pairs of Dutch speaking countries: BelgiumSuriname

BAHRAIN-SUDAN

Bahrain and Sudan both use Arabic as their official language. However, their natively spoken varieties are slightly different.

However, Bahrain is in Asia, while Sudan is in Africa. Bahrain is also more densely populated and most of its people live near the coast, unlike Sudan. People in Sudan have far more African ancestry. In contrast, due to recent immigration, Bahrain has far more males than females. Another difference is that Bahrain is significantly wealthier than Sudan. Its infrastructure is far more advanced. People in Bahrain consume far more electricity as well.

Other very different pairs of Arabic speaking countries: LebanonSudan, BahrainMauritania

BOLIVIA-SPAIN

Bolivia was once a colony of Spain, until it became independent in the year 1825. Most people in these countries natively speak Spanish, although a significant portion of Bolivians still speak indigenous languages as well.

However, Spain is located in Europe, while Bolivia is in South America. Spain’s climate is also significantly drier than Bolivia’s, since a large portion of Bolivia is rainforest. In addition, most people in Bolivia have a mix of native South American and Caucasian ancestry. On average they are also more than 10 years older. Furthermore, Bolivia’s infrastructure is not as well developed as Spain’s. It has far less vehicles and few people use its railroad network.

Other very different pairs of Spanish speaking countries: SpainGuatemala, SpainHonduras

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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