Have you ever wondered which states are the least similar to each other? According to the State Similarity Index, there is no clear cut answer to this question, but the data suggests that Wyoming – New Jersey and Hawaii – Arkansas are two of the least similar pairs of states. In fact, either Hawaii or Wyoming feature in the ten least similar pairs of states. Based on the selected criteria, these states have extremely different demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The following article takes a look at the five least similar pairs of states and analyzes the reasons why they are so different from each other.
Wyoming – New Jersey
While Wyoming is one of the states with the highest percentage of White people, New Jersey is one of the most diverse. It is melting pot of many different races, with significant populations of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians. Even their White populations have different origins, since there are many people with Italian ancestry in New Jersey, while Wyoming has far more people with German ancestry. Another difference is that New Jersey has a high percentage of single people, while Wyoming has one of the lowest in the United States.
People from New Jersey tend to have a distinct accent, similar to the accent natively spoken in New York City, while people from Wyoming tend to have an accent similar to the “standard” American accent. Country music is very popular in Wyoming, while Pop and Rock music are more popular in New Jersey. Furthermore, soccer is much more popular in New Jersey than in Wyoming. While New Jersey has extremely low rates of people that own guns or have hunting licenses, Wyoming has some of the highest rates in both these respects. Another difference is that people in New Jersey are known to be temperamental and speak their mind openly, while people in Wyoming are more relaxed and friendly.
Politically, these states are far different as well. The Democratic Party is much more popular in New Jersey, while the Republican Party is more popular in Wyoming. New Jersey has policies more friendly to immigrants. It is a sanctuary state and provides in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Another difference is that New Jersey’s laws are more in favor of unions than Wyoming. Smoking is not banned in public places in Wyoming, unlike in New Jersey. Wyoming does not have an income tax, while New Jersey’s is one of the highest in the United States.
One of the biggest differences between New Jersey and Wyoming is their infrastructure. Since New Jersey is far more densely populated, its road and railroad network is much denser. New Jersey has large seaports, Wyoming, in contrast, is landlocked and has no navigable rivers. New Jersey has many skyscrapers, while Wyoming’s tallest building is less than 50 meters tall. Wyoming uses far more water per capita, in part due to irrigation for agricultural land. Their energy sources are different as well. Coal power plants make most of the electricity in Wyoming. New Jersey uses a mix of natural gas and nuclear power. A far higher percentage of people in New Jersey do not own cars and instead rely on public transportation.
New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the United States, since it is located between New York City and Philadelphia. The only state more sparsely populated than Wyoming is Alaska. Wyoming’s climate is also much drier than New Jersey. As a result, Wyoming is mostly grassland, while New Jersey has more forested area. New Jersey is well known for its beaches, in contrast Wyoming is double landlocked. The Rocky Mountains run through Wyoming, so its terrain is much more mountainous than New Jersey’s as well.
Hawaii – Arkansas
Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asians in the United States. Many of its people have Japanese, Filipino, and Native Hawaiian ancestry. The vast majority of people in Arkansas are White, but it also has a significant Black population as well. Another difference is that Hawaii is wealthier and its people are more educated. It has a higher percentage of millionaires and a lower poverty rate. A much higher percentage of Hawaii’s people graduated from college and high school.
The culture in Hawaii and Arkansas is far different as well. Country music is very popular in Arkansas, while Pop and Hip-Hop music are more popular in Hawaii. A far higher percentage of people are union members in Hawaii than in Arkansas. In addition, Hawaiians tend to do more physical activity and watch less television than people from Arkansas. Arkansas also has a higher rate of suicide, homicide, and smoking than Hawaii. Another difference is that Hawaii has the highest rate of interracial marriage in the country, while Arkansas had banned the practice before 1967.
Hawaii is one of the most liberal states, so its people heavily favor the Democratic Party. The state has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate in more than 30 years. Hawaii has more restrictions on guns and less restrictions on abortions than Arkansas. While capital punishment is banned in Hawaii, it is still allowed in Arkansas. In addition, Arkansas has not banned corporal punishment in schools either. Another difference is that Hawaii allows undocumented immigrants to have drivers licenses and even provides in-state university tuition for them.
Hawaii has many skyscrapers and few mobile homes. A low percentage of people have cable television in Arkansas, while an extremely high rate of people in Hawaii have it. Unlike the vast majority of states, homes in Hawaii often do not have a heating source, due to its tropical climate. While Hawaii is the state with the most airplane passengers per capita, Arkansas has very few. Hawaii also has a much higher percentage of people in the military than Arkansas. It is one of the few states that has bases for each of the five traditional branches of the military.
Arkansas is landlocked, while Hawaii is a tropical island with vastly different flora and fauna. Their crops are significantly different as well. Hawaii tends to grow a lot of fruits, while Arkansas produces a lot of soybeans. Since Hawaii is much further to the south, it has a significantly warmer climate. There is also a four hour time difference between Hawaii and Arkansas. Moreover, Hawaii is more densely populated than Arkansas and a higher percentage of its land is urbanized.
Wyoming – Massachusetts
Massachusetts is one of the states with the highest percentage of Catholics, while Wyoming is mostly Protestant. It has a much greater percentage of people with Irish ancestry as well. Another difference is that Wyoming has significantly more men than women, while the reverse is true in Massachusetts. Furthermore, Massachusetts is the state with the highest percentage of college graduates, in contrast to Wyoming. A higher percentage of the people in Massachusetts have advanced degrees as well.
Massachusetts is one of the least religious states. A significantly lower percentage of its people believe in god than in Wyoming. Natives of Massachusetts also have a distinct non-rhotic accent, while people from Wyoming tend to have an accent similar to the “standard” American accent. While Massachusetts was a major location for early English colonization in North America, Wyoming was colonized much later in history. Massachusetts has a lower rate of incarceration and suicide than Wyoming. Another difference is that people in Massachusetts are much more interested in ice hockey.
Massachusetts and Wyoming are on opposite sides of the political spectrum as well. Democrats dominate most political offices in Massachusetts, but in Wyoming Republicans are far stronger. Massachusetts has a significantly higher minimum wage than Wyoming. The laws in Massachusetts are also more favorable to unions. Moreover, smoking tobacco is not banned in public places in Wyoming, unlike in Massachusetts. On the other hand, marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, while Wyoming has some of the strictest laws against it in the country.
Wyoming has many mobile homes and no skyscrapers, while the reverse is true for Massachusetts. Wyoming also uses far more water per capita, in part due to irrigation for agricultural land. Massachusetts has some of the best hospitals in the country and many physicians per capita, but Wyoming’s healthcare infrastructure is less developed. Railroads in Wyoming transport a lot of coal, but the state does not even have an Amtrak stop. A much higher percentage of people use public transportation in Massachusetts and passenger rail is frequently used. Highways in Massachusetts also tend to have relatively few semi-trucks, compared to Wyoming.
Wyoming is a double landlocked state, whereas Massachusetts is located on the Atlantic Coast. They are over 1,500 miles away from each other. The climate in Wyoming is also much drier than in Massachusetts. As a result, Wyoming is mostly grassland, while Massachusetts has a much higher percentage of forested area. Massachusetts is also far more densely populated than Wyoming. Boston’s urban area takes up a significant portion of the state.
Hawaii – Mississippi
While Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asians in the United States, Mississippi has the highest percentage of Blacks. Mississippi has the second highest obesity rate in the country, whereas Hawaii has the second lowest obesity rate. Furthermore, Mississippi has a higher poverty rate than Hawaii. Mississippi also has a significantly lower percentage of high school and college graduates. Another difference is that Mississippi has the highest percentage of Protestants in the country, while Hawaii has the highest percentage of Buddhists.
Hawaiians attend religious services at a much lower rate than Mississippians. In addition, Hawaiians tend to do more physical activity and watch less television than people from Mississippi, but interestingly enough far more professional athletes come from Mississippi. Moreover, Hawaii has a lower homicide rate. It also has a much lower rate of smoking tobacco than Mississippi. Hawaiian and Tagalog are still the native languages of many people living in Hawaii, whereas few people in Mississippi speak a language other than English.
Mississippi’s government is far more conservative than Hawaii’s, so there are far more Republicans representing the state. Mississippi has less restrictions on guns and more restrictions on abortions than Hawaii. Capital punishment is banned in Hawaii, but it is still allowed in Mississippi. Their judges are selected through completely different methods as well. There are elections in Mississippi, but in Hawaii the judges are initially chosen by the governor and a judicial selection committee decides if they are retained. Another difference is that Hawaii has a significantly higher sales tax.
While Hawaii has many skyscrapers, there are no skyscrapers in Mississippi. Furthermore Mississippi has a much higher percentage of mobile homes. Hawaii is the state with the most airplane passengers per capita, whereas Mississippi has very few. A low percentage of people have cable television in Mississippi, while an extremely high rate of people in Hawaii have it. Interestingly enough, not only does Hawaii have more vehicles per capita than Mississippi, it also has a significantly higher percentage of its population that uses public transportation.
Hawaii is extremely mountainous and even has active volcanos. In contrast, Mississippi’s terrain is fairly flat. Its highest point is only 806 feet above sea level, while Mauna Kea is almost 13,000 feet taller. Although Mississippi is not landlocked, it has very little coastline, in contrast to Hawaii. Mississippi is also much more sparsely populated and has a greater percentage of farmland than Hawaii. Their crops are far different as well, since Hawaii grows many fruits, while Mississippi grows a lot of soybean and cotton.
Hawaii – North Dakota
North Dakota is one of the states with the highest percentage of White people in the county. In contrast, Hawaii is one of the few states where most of the population is not White. A large percentage of its people have Japanese, Filipino, and Native Hawaiian ancestry. Another difference is that the average person in North Dakota is much taller than the average person in Hawaii. North Dakota also has a higher rate of obesity.
Ice hockey is extremely popular in North Dakota, but due to its climate very few people have the opportunity to play it in Hawaii. Country music is far more popular in North Dakota, while pop music is more popular in Hawaii. While Hawaii has one of the highest military enlistment rates, North Dakota has one of the lowest. However, Hawaiians have a much lower rate of volunteerism than North Dakotans. Although both states have high gun ownership rates, a far lower percentage of its people have hunting licenses. In addition, Hawaii is linguistically diverse, whereas few people in North Dakota speak a language other than English. Native North Dakotans also speak with a unique accent.
Few Democrats are elected in North Dakota, in contrast to Hawaii. As a result, North Dakota has less restrictions on guns and more restrictions on abortions than Hawaii. Marriage to first cousins is legal in Hawaii, whereas it is criminalized in North Dakota. Furthermore, North Dakota’s alcohol laws are stricter. Alcohol can only be sold in a dedicated section of the grocery store there. Their judges are selected through completely different methods as well. There are elections in North Dakota, but in Hawaii the judges are initially chosen by the governor and a judicial selection committee decides if they are retained.
The infrastructure in Hawaii and North Dakota is far different as well. A large amount of oil is being extracted in North Dakota via fracking. In contrast, little mining is done in Hawaii. Not only does North Dakota produce significantly more energy, it also uses significantly more. While the vast majority of communities in North Dakota fluorinate their public water supply, few communities in Hawaii do. Although Hawaii has a higher population density, its network of roads and railroads is not as dense as North Dakota’s. While Hawaii has bases for each of the five traditional branches of the military, North Dakota only has an air force base. Another difference is that North Dakota’s fire departments heavily rely on volunteers, whereas the majority of firefighters in Hawaii are professional.
North Dakota’s geography is nearly the opposite of Hawaii, since it is landlocked and much further to the north. As a result, it has one of the coldest climates in the country. Furthermore, while Hawaii is extremely mountainous, North Dakota’s terrain is relatively flat. The majority of North Dakota’s land is used for agricultural purposes. In contrast, most of Hawaii is covered in tropical forests. Their crops are different as well. Hawaii tends to grow a lot of fruits, but North Dakota grows a mix of corn, soybean, and wheat.
US States with the Least Similar Demographics: Hawaii & Mississippi
US States with the Least Similar Culture: Massachusetts & Oklahoma
US States with the Least Similar Politics: New York & Idaho
US States with the Least Similar Infrastructure: Massachusetts & Wyoming
US States with the Least Similar Geography: Hawaii & North Dakota