The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. It weighs equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The methodology is exactly the same for each country.
The data from the Country Similarity Index was used to cluster countries into different regions and to create the most accurate regions of the world map. Some unique countries, like Bhutan, North Korea, and Israel, are very difficult to group with other countries. Therefore, it was necessary to make the largest regions still have a great deal of variation within them. This resulted in 9 distinct macro-regions:
- The North & Australasia
- Central & South America
- Middle East & North Africa
- Sub-Saharan Africa
- Central Asia
- South Asia
- East Asia
- Southeast Asia
- South Pacific
Please see this article, which compares these groupings to other regional maps created by geographers.
It must be noted that these macro-regions still have very significant differences within them. Countries as different as Russia and Australia are still grouped together. A few changes were made from the initial hierarchical clustering, since the data shows that some countries are really blends of two different regions. Pakistan could be considered either part of the Middle East or South Asia. Afghanistan could be considered either part of the Middle East or Central Asia. Sudan and Mauritania could be considered part of the Middle East or Sub-Saharan Africa. To account for this, the 9 macro-regions were further divided into 27 sub-regions, and even smaller groups within those sub-regions. It is hoped that this study has created a more rigorous and logical world regional map than any previously created.
The countries in each region and their individual pages are as follows:
The North & Australasia
1-A) Anglo World
– United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland
– United States, Canada
– Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Croatia,
Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro
– Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland,
Italy, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg
– Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway
– Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia
– Greece, Cyprus
– Iceland, Greenland
1-C) North Eurasia
– Russia, Ukraine, Belarus
Central & South America
2-A) The Caribbean
– Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas
– Guyana, Suriname
2-B) Latin America
– Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Rep.,
Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico
– Argentina, Chile, Uruguay
– Bolivia, Paraguay
– French Guiana
2-C) Atlantic Ocean
– Cape Verde
2-D) Indian Ocean
– Mauritius, Reunion
Middle East & North Africa
3-A) Arab World
– Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain
– Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Palestine
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia
3-C) Nastaliq Region
– Afghanistan (transitional zone between Middle East and Central Asia)
– Pakistan (transitional zone between Middle East and South Asia)
(transitional zone between Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa)
– Sudan, Mauritania
– Niger, Mali, Chad
– Somalia, Djibouti
4-B) Tropical Africa
– Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, Benin, Togo, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau
– Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi
– D.R. Congo, Cameroon, Central African Rep., Rep. Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea
– Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia
– Mozambique, Angola
– South Sudan
4-C) Southern Africa
– South Africa, Namibia, Botswana
– Lesotho, Eswatini
4-D) Ethiopic Africa
– Ethiopia, Eritrea
5-B) – Bhutan
5-C) – Bangladesh
5-D) – Sri Lanka
– Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan
– Turkey, Azerbaijan
– South Korea
7-C) – North Korea
8-A) Mainland Southeast Asia
– Cambodia, Laos
8-C) Insular Southeast Asia
– Malaysia, Brunei
– Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia
– Samoa, French Polynesia
– East Timor
Here is the hierarchical clustering dendrogram, the primary source of the map’s regions:
Finally it may best to look at countries as a connected web, not hierarchical clusters.
Here is a version of the map as a connected web:
Great! This is exactly what I hoped in since the beginning!
The map shows many interesting facts, such as Cape Verde, Mauritius and Reunion being more similar to the Americas than to Africa. Apparently it matters more when and by whom your country was colonized, than where it is geographically located.
Another interesting fact – the term Eastern Europe in its Cold War borders is unjustified. The only real Eastern Europe consists of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The remaining countries often labeled as Eastern European (Poland etc.) are indeed different from western European countries such as Germany, France or Italy, but not more than these continental western European countries are different from the Nordic countries or from the British Isles.
Thanks, still working on a variation of your map, which i think is actually a better way to look at the world. In truth there is a gradient of countries and a web better explains the nuances. Forcing countries into specific boxes is interesting for sure though.
Very interesting, thank you for your hard work!
Could you share the average height for males and females in each region, please? Preferably in centimeters, if possible.
Thank you very much in advance!
Thank you for your impressive work. It would be nice, however, if your tables of detailed similarity analysis for each country could also be automatically ordered by each individual metric (for example demographics, culture, etc.) rather than only by total. Sometimes I am not interested in overall similarity, but care more about cultural or infrastructure similarity only.
This has been updated for most of the countries. Now they can be ordered by the individual catagories.
Hello. The map is very interesting and as a total geography and culture nerd I enjoyed every bit of your country specifc comparisons and the classifications on here.
There is just one thing though.
I don’t really get why Georgia and Armenia get classified into 1C together with the East Slavic nations when Georgia does not even have any of them in its top 5 most similar. I just think it would be more appropriate to have Armenia and Georgia as a separate 1D subregion within the west especially when Cape Verde which has 65 point similarity with Brazil is its own category and Georgia and Armenia have approximately the same similarity with the Slavic countries.
Best regards, Mike