Mapping the 2 Most Similar Countries to Each Country

relationships between similar countries world map

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 create a connected web of countries, since the data reveals the relationship of countries to each other is more of a gradient than having clearly defined clusters. Therefore, a graphic was created to reveal more intricate linkages between countries rather than simply grouping them into regions. The logic of the connected web is as follows: each country is connected to its most similar country and also the next most similar country that is not more similar to the countries more similar to the country.

relationships between similar countries diagram

Downloadable graphic:

Yet another way to look at the relationships between countries is by just connecting the two most similar countries to each country. As a result, there are some subtle differences that appear. For example, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay form their own distinct cluster from the rest of South America. Furthermore, unlike the web of connected countries, these linkages are presented on a world map.

relationships between similar countries world map
This map can be compared to a similar map created by ChatGPT

Downloadable graphic:

List of Countries that Link Two World Regions

From this study, a few countries stand out as being transitional countries between two different world regions. The map shows these countries having connections to two different regions.


Mauritius is closest to the African continent, but it really has more traits of countries in the Caribbean or South Asia. Trinidad & Tobago, Sri Lanka, and even Fiji in the South Pacific have a lot in common with it. These countries are tropical islands that have a lot of people with ancestry in South Asia.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde is another country that is close in distance Africa, but also has many traits of Latin American countries. Since it is a former Portuguese colony, it shares some characteristics with both Brazil and Angola. These countries all speak Portuguese and are predominately Catholic.

Sudan and Mauritania

Some geographers consider Sudan and Mauritania to be part of the Middle East and North Africa, while others consider them to be part of Sub-Saharan Africa. On the one hand, these countries are mostly Muslim countries that primarily speak Arabic and are mostly desert. On the other hand, the people in these countries have more Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Their infrastructure also tends to be not as well developed as most Middle Eastern countries.


Turkey is an especially difficult country to put into a specific region. It is at the crossroads of Central Asia and Europe. Many geographers mistakenly group it in with the Middle East. Turkey’s laws are more secular than most countries in the Middle East. Furthermore, Turkish is now written in the Latin alphabet, like most countries in Europe and in Central Asia.


Israel is a really unique country. It does not fit in well within either Europe or the Middle East. Although it is geographically within the Middle East, many of its people are immigrants from Europe. It is also more democratic than most Middle Eastern countries and has less conservative laws.


Afghanistan has actually been commonly grouped into three different regions of the world in maps created by academics: the Middle East, Central Asia, and even South Asia. Its most similar country, Tajikistan, is undoubtedly a Central Asian country. However, Afghanistan was not part of the Soviet Union, so its laws are far more conservative and the country still uses the Arabic script, like Iran.


Pakistan is a transitional country between the Middle East and South Asia. It has traits of both Afghanistan and India. On one hand, Pakistan is mostly Muslim and uses the Arabic script. Furthermore, it is mostly desert. Still, like most countries in South Asia, most of its people speak Indic languages. Furthermore, since Pakistan was once part of India, their infrastructure is similar. They drive on the left side of the road and use Type D electrical outlets.


Bhutan has characteristics of both South Asia and Southeast Asia. Its two most similar countries are Nepal and Myanmar. Most geographers tend to group it with South Asia, but Bhutan is mostly Buddhist and its people have East Asian ancestry, like countries in Mainland Southeast Asia.


Vietnam is a transitional country between East Asia and Southeast Asia. China had a huge cultural influence on Vietnam throughout its history. Unlike other countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has a high rate of atheism, making it more similar to East Asian countries in this respect.

East Timor

East Timor is one country that could be classified as either in Southeast Asia or the South Pacific. Unlike other countries in the South Pacific, it is mostly Catholic like the Philippines. Since the country was once part of Indonesia, it still has Muslim holidays along with Christian ones, on its national holiday calendar. However, people from East Timor have more Melanesian ancestry than the rest of Southeast Asia.

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