Cultural diversity is one of the defining characteristics of our world, with each country possessing its own unique traditions, values, and habits. But have you ever wondered which countries have the most different culture in the world?
According to the Country Similarity Index‘s culture category, Japan and Niger are the countries with the least similar culture in the world. The statistical analysis shows that their language, religious beliefs, traditions, everyday habits, and cuisine are especially disimilar. Japan and Burundi are another pair of countries that have very different cultures. These comparisons between countries highlight great diversity in culture even in today’s globalized world. However, it is worth noting that generalizations about a whole country’s culture and people can be oversimplifying and may not apply to everyone in the country.
Japan & Niger
Japan is a densely populated archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean. In contrast, Niger is a sparsely populated landlocked country in the middle of Africa. Not only is their geography significantly different, but also their culture.
Niger is a former French colony, so French is the official language in the country. However, most people natively speak indigenous languages like Hausa and Zarma. Japan, on the other hand, has its own unique language, which is not related to any other language in the world. It is a complex language with three writing systems: kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Niger on the other hand uses the Latin alphabet, so they have completely different origins.
The vast majority of people in Niger are Muslim. Japan, on the other hand, has a complex religious landscape, with Shintoism and Buddhism being the two most prominent religions. However, people in Niger tend to be more religious than people in Japan. It has a high percentage of atheists. In fact, the country has no official religious holidays. In contrast, Niger has many Islamic holidays on its calendar, including Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as well as Christmas.
The religious beliefs of people in Niger affect many parts of their culture. Few people drink alcohol, since alcohol is prohibited under Islamic law. On the other hand, Japan is known for its sake and beer culture, and it is common for people to drink after work or during social occasions. People in Japan also tend to smoke more cigarettes and do more illicit drugs. Another difference is that Niger has a high rate of marriage and a low rate of divorce, in contrast to Japan. Arranged marriages are still common there.
The average personality of their people is also different. According to the Lewis Model, people from Niger are characterized as multi-active, meaning that they tend to be more emotional and expressive in their communication styles. The Japanese are known for their reserved nature and adherence to social norms. Niger has a relatively high level of violence, particularly in the form of armed conflict and terrorism. Japan, on the other hand, has one of the lowest levels of violence in the world, with very low rates of homicide and violent crime.
Another big difference is their sports culture. Niger has has never won an Olympic medal or competed in the World Cup. Japan has a strong sports tradition and has hosted the Olympics and the World Cup. Its team has won a total of 498 Olympic medals, including 142 gold medals. The Japanese especially excel in gymnastics. Unlike Niger, baseball is especially popular in Japan.
The food in Niger and Japan differs greatly too. Niger relies heavily on millet and sorghum as staple grains, while Japanese people eat a lot of rice and wheat products. The Japanese also consume more meat, especially a lot of seafood and pork. However, pork is prohibited for Muslims in Niger due to religious reasons. The country is also landlocked so seafood is not commonly eaten there.
The architecture styles in Niger and Japan are disimilar as well. Niger’s traditional architecture is characterized by mud-brick structures with intricate Islamic geometric designs. In contrast, traditional Japanese architecture is known for its natural materials and minimalist design.
Japan & Burundi
Burundi is yet another landlocked country in Africa that is far different from Japan. However, it has some key differences from Niger as well. Burundi is mostly Christian. It is also located further south and has a tropical climate.
Burundi has two official languages: French and Kirundi, a Bantu language spoken by the majority of the population. Japan has its own unique language, which is not related to any other language in the world. The countries also use writing systems that are unrelated to each other.
The majority of people in Burundi are Christian, but it also has a significant Muslim population. People in Japan tend to be less religious. Shintoism and Buddhism are the two most prominent religions. Still, the country has no official religious holidays. In contrast, Burundi has many Christian holidays on its calendar, including Christmas and All Saints’ Day, as well as Eid al-Adha. However, both countries celebrate New Year’s Day.
Cultural differences between Burundi and Japan extend beyond religion and language. Japanese culture places emphasis on shame and guilt, with individuals striving to avoid behaviors that bring dishonor to themselves or their families. In Burundi, fear is more of a dominant emotion, with individuals seeking to avoid danger and protect their families. In addition, Burundians value flexibility, relationships, and adaptability. The Japanese tend to prioritize clear communication, logical thinking, and following established rules and procedures.
Another difference is that Japan is known for its martial arts, such as karate, judo, and sumo wrestling. Burundi, on the other hand, has a rich tradition of middle and long distance running. Its two Olympic medalists came in the 5,000 meters and 800 meters events.
Cassava, sweet potatoes, and plantains make up a large part of the diet in Burundi. In contrast, rice and wheat are the most commonly consumed starches in Japan. People in Burundi eat a lot less meat, but more fruits. In fact, bananas are a huge part of Burundi’s diet. Due to the high cost of importation, bananas are much more expensive in Japan.
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