Have you ever wondered which countries in Europe are the most unique?
One way to answer this difficult question is by analyzing the data from the Country Similarity Index. The index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries, using a variety of statistics. It weighs equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. An analysis of the data gives some logical suggestions. Here is a list of the five most unique European countries based on the data:
According to the Index, Albania is the most unique country in Europe. It is the only country in Europe (besides Kosovo) where the Muslim population is much larger than the Christian population. Still it is also religiously diverse, since more than 5% of the country is Orthodox and more than 10% is Catholic. Furthermore, Albanian is not closely related to another major European language. The country has a complex history, including ancient Greek, Roman, and Ottoman influences.
Some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe can be found in Albania. The country has rugged coastline and a mountainous interior. It also has a diverse range of landscapes, including sandy beaches, deep valleys, and snow-capped peaks. Despite being a relatively small country, Albania boasts 6 ultra-prominent peaks. It is situated on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, so it has a subtropical climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers.
Albania is one of the few countries in the world to generate almost all its electricity from hydropower. However, in other respects, its infrastructure is one of the least developed in Europe. The country has the lowest number of cars per capita in Europe. It also does not have much of a railway system. Despite these challenges, it has made progress recently. The government has implemented a number of economic reforms and begun to improve its infrastructure.
Compared to other European nations, Iceland is the least similar when considering an unweighted average of countries, according to the Index. Its geography is perhaps its most unique feature. It is situated on the tectonic boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates. As a result, Iceland has many active volcanoes and geothermal hot springs. It also has a subarctic climate so it is one of the coldest European countries. Furthermore, it is the least densely populated European country.
Iceland is one of the most democratic countries in the world, with a high degree of rule of law. It is also consistently ranked as one of the most gender-equal countries, with policies in place to ensure equal pay and representation in politics. In addition, the country has generous welfare benefits and a relatively flat social structure. Iceland’s government provides its citizens a tuition-free college education and a robust single-payer healthcare system.
The infrastructure of Iceland is also extremely different from most European countries. It is one of the few countries in the world that generates nearly 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, primarily geothermal and hydroelectric power. Furthermore, the country uses far more electricity per capita and has significantly more airplane passengers per capita. Interestingly enough, Iceland does not have an active military. It also has no public railways.
Cyprus is the third most unique country in Europe, based off of the Index. The country has especially unique demographics and culture, since it has many people with either Greek or Turkish descent. As a result, it also has a mix of Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims. In fact, Cyprus and Greece are the only two countries that still regularly use the Greek alphabet, since Latin and Cyrillic became more widespread. The island is also home to a number of ancient Greek archaeological sites.
Since Cyprus was once a British colony until 1960, it is one of the few countries in Europe that drives on the left and uses Type G electrical outlets. In addition, unlike most European countries, the vast majority of its electricity is created by oil-fired power plants. Due to its strategic position near the Suez Canal and the Bosporous, Cyprus is along many important shipping routes, so it has a lot of port infrastructure. Despite its small size, Cyprus has a lot of military infrastructure as well.
The third largest Mediterranean island after Sardinia and Sicily is Cyprus. The country has rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, and a mountainous interior. The island has has the driest climate in Europe, with an average of just 300mm rainfall per year. It is also the second warmest country after Malta, in part since it is located so far south. The agricultural land in Cyprus produces significant amounts of wheat, grapes, and barley.
Finland is one of the few countries in Europe, where most people natively speak a language that is not Indo-European in origin, since Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric family. In addition, the ancestry of its people is unique. While most males in Europe are part of the Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup R, Finland differs since most are part of the haplogroup N, which has its origins in Siberia. Furthermore, its people have the highest percentage of blonde hair and blue eyes in the world.
The government of Finland is also unique. It was the first European country to allow women to vote and hold public office. Its political system is different from many other European countries that have more partisan or ideologically divided political systems. Finland’s education system is one of the best in the world. It focuses on individualized learning and teacher training. A high percentage of its people are college graduates.
The most densely forested country in Europe is Finland. Most of its trees are coniferous. Its terrain is relatively flat and dotted with many lakes. Since it is located so far to the north, it has one of the continent’s coldest climates. As a result, people in Finland tend to be far more interested in ice hockey and other winter sports than most other European countries. Some of its most important crops include barley, oat, and wheat.
The demographics and culture of Switzerland are relatively unique. The country is truly multilingual, since it has a mix of German, French, and Italian speaking regions. Furthermore, it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Over 15% of the adult population are millionaires. A high percentage of its people have firearms, since its men are required to do military service.
The executive branch of Switzerland has an unusual structure. It is run by a 7-member federal council. The position of president rotates each year. Swiss citizens have a say in policy decisions through referendums and initiatives, which is not common in other European nations. The country is also known for its neutrality, having not been involved in a war for over 100 years. Despite being surrounded by the European Union, Switzerland is not a member and does not use the Euro.
Switzerland is a landlocked country in the middle of Europe. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Its landscape features sky blue lakes fed by glaciers from the majestic Alps. Its forests have a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees. Since the country is so mountainous, it is also home to a number of the world’s best ski resorts.
Other Unique European Countries
6. Moldova, 7. Greece, 8. North Macedonia, 9. Ireland, 10. United Kingdom
Lowest Overall Average, Unweighted
Lowest Overall Average, Weighted by Population
- Iceland – 62.4
- Cyprus – 62.8
- Albania – 62.9
- Moldova – 66.0
- Bosnia & Herzegovina – 66.5
Lowest Overall Average, Weighted by Land Area
- Albania – 60.8
- Cyprus – 60.9
- Iceland – 61.3
- Ireland – 63.9
- United Kingdom – 64.2
Countries Least Clusterable into Regions
- Albania – 68.3
- Iceland – 72.7
- Finland – 76.8
- Switzerland – 77.3
- Hungary – 78.5