America’s Least Similar Bordering States

Map of Least similar bordering states in the United States

Most of the time, states that border each other are similar to each other. However, there are a few notable borders between states that break this trend. According to the State Similarity Index, Maryland and West Virginia are the least similar states that border each other. Their demographics, culture, governments, infrastructure, and geography are significantly different. This article focuses on the three least similar states that border each other.

1. Maryland – West Virginia

West Virginia is one of the least diverse states. Over 90 percent of its people are White. However, in Maryland, the Black population is 30 percent and the Latino population is 10 percent. Furthermore, West Virginia has the lowest percentage of college graduates in the United States, while Maryland has one of the highest percentages. As a result, their average incomes are vastly different as well. Maryland’s poverty rate is less than half of West Virginia’s.

People in West Virginia tend to be more religious than people in Maryland. A much higher percentage of their people own guns and have hunting licenses too. Another difference is that Country music is much more popular in West Virginia than Maryland. Their people tend to have different accents as well. In addition, a much higher percentage of people in West Virginia smoke. It also has a higher suicide rate.

A Democratic candidate has not won the presidential vote in West Virginia since 2000. In the same period, a Democrat has always won Maryland. Their laws are significantly different as well. Maryland has more restrictions on guns and smoking in public places. Maryland’s laws are also more generous to immigrants. It allows undocumented immigrants to have driver’s licenses and in-state college tuition. West Virginia prohibits first cousin marriage, while Maryland does not.

Since West Virginia is more rural, a higher percentage of people live in detached single-family homes. Furthermore, more of their homes have their own septic systems. Around 16 percent of the housing units in West Virginia are mobile homes, while 2 percent are in Maryland. Much more mining is done in West Virginia. Its electricity is created by coal power, while Maryland primarily uses nuclear and natural gas. A lower percentage of people use mass transit in West Virginia as well.

One characteristic these states share is that they have a similar temperate climate. However, West Virginia is landlocked, while Maryland has a lot of coastline. West Virginia is also much more sparsely populated than Maryland. Although the Appalachian Mountains run through both states, Maryland is less mountainous. West Virginia also has a significantly higher percentage of forested land.

2. New Mexico – Oklahoma

New Mexico has the highest percentage of Latinos in the United States, while in Oklahoma the vast majority of people are White. Oklahoma also has a much higher rate of obesity. It also has a significantly higher percentage of married people. Although both states have a relatively large Native American population, most are Navajo in New Mexico, while most are Cherokee in Oklahoma.

New Mexico has a much higher percentage of Catholics, since many of its residents immigrated from Mexico. In contrast, Oklahoma has one of the lowest percentages of Catholics in the country. Oklahoma has a higher rate of smoking. New Mexicans tend to do more exercise. Studies have also shown that New Mexico has a much more tolerant society than Oklahoma as well. Despite bordering each other, their major universities are not in the same conferences.

People in New Mexico tend to vote for Democrats more often than Republicans. The laws in New Mexico and Oklahoma are especially different as well. New Mexico has friendlier laws for immigrants. Oklahoma has far stricter laws regarding abortion. Oklahoma still allows the death penalty while New Mexico has banned it. Unlike New Mexico, Oklahoma still allows corporal punishment in schools.

The transportation infrastructure is much denser in Oklahoma, because it is less sparsely populated than New Mexico. Its cell phone coverage is also better as well. Significantly more mining is done in New Mexico, while there is more manufacturing in Oklahoma. Most of New Mexico is on the Western electrical grid, while Oklahoma is on the Eastern electrical grid.

New Mexico is in the Mountain Time Zone, while Oklahoma is in the Central Time Zone since it is further to the east. Oklahoma also gets more rainfall than New Mexico. As a result, Oklahoma is mostly temperate grassland, while New Mexico is mostly desert. Furthermore, Oklahoma is also more densely populated, although neither state is especially dense. Another difference is that New Mexico is significantly more mountainous.

3. Colorado – Oklahoma

The people in Colorado tend to be more educated than in Oklahoma. It has a higher percentage of college graduates and high school graduates. Colorado is also significantly wealthier than Oklahoma on average. Its poverty rate is much lower. Furthermore, a much higher percentage of people in Oklahoma are obese. Unlike Colorado, Oklahoma has more women than men.

Colorado is less religious than Oklahoma. It has a much lower percentage of Baptists, but a higher percentage of Catholics. After the Civil War, Colorado prohibited school racial segregation, while it was mandatory in Oklahoma. People in Colorado tend to drink more alcohol and do more illicit drugs. They also do more exercise as well. Furthermore, country music is more popular in Oklahoma, while Rock music is more popular in Colorado.

While both states have few restrictions on guns, Oklahoma has many more restrictions on abortion. Smoking is banned in public places in Colorado, in contrast to Oklahoma. Colorado’s laws provide more civil rights protections for its citizens. Its laws are also significantly more favorable to immigrants. Furthermore, Colorado’s minimum wage is much higher. Oklahoma still has the death penalty, while Colorado has outlawed the practice.

Colorado has more mines than Oklahoma. Colorado also uses more water per capita, since its farmlands require more irrigation. Oklahoma is on the Eastern electrical grid, while Colorado is on the Western electrical grid. Internet access and internet speeds are not nearly as good in Oklahoma as they are in Colorado. In addition, the quality of Colorado’s hospitals also tends to be better.

Colorado is much more mountainous than Oklahoma. It has some of the tallest peaks in the United States. In contrast, Oklahoma’s terrain is fairly flat. Colorado is in the Mountain Time Zone, while Oklahoma is in the Central Time Zone, since it is further to the east. It is also located at a higher elevation and at a higher latitude, so Colorado’s climate is significantly colder than Oklahoma. It is also drier as well.

List of low similarity borders

(under 72 similarity)

1West VirginiaMaryland60.2
2New MexicoOklahoma62.7
5New MexicoTexas64.6
10West VirginiaVirginia68.1
12VermontNew York68.5
13West VirginiaPennsylvania69.5
20West VirginiaOhio71.3

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