Extremely Different States with Similar Geography

For the most part, states with similar geography tend to also share many other characteristics. Still, there are some unique pairs of states that may have a similar climate and terrain, but have little else in common. A list of these states was developed by analyzing the data from the State Similarity Index, that weighs equally five major aspects of American states: their demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. The following three pairs of states were found to have a biggest difference between their geography and their other aspects, including demographics, culture, politics, and infrastructure.


Vermont and West Virginia are two landlocked states located in Appalachian Mountains. They are among the states with the lowest percentage of flat land, since their terrain is so hilly. Because of these geographic features, Vermont and West Virginia have relatively little farmland. Around 80% of the land in both states is forested. Most of their trees are hardwood species such as oak, maple, hickory, and ash, but they also have a significant amount of coniferous trees as well. In addition, they have a similar climate, although Vermont tends to be colder since it is further to the north. Their population density is similar as well. They both have around 70 people per square mile and are quite rural.

However, one big difference is that West Virginia’s economy is dependent on the mining industry. The state relies on coal power to create electricity. In contrast, Vermont is powered by renewable energy sources, like hydropower and wind. Coal has experienced a significant downturn in recent years, so West Virginia has become one of the poorest states in the country. In addition, less than 25% of West Virginians have completed college. In stark contrast, Vermont is one of the most educated states with over 44% having a Bachelor’s degree.

As a result, these states are extremely different in regards to culture and politics. A much higher percentage of people in West Virginia are religious. The state is often associated with conservative politics and a more traditional way of life. On the other hand, Vermont is known for its progressive politics, hippie counterculture, and reputation for being a liberal bastion. Since 2000, West Virginia has always voted for Republican presidential candidates, while Vermont has only voted for Democrats. Furthermore, West Virginians tend to have a distinctive Southern accent, while Vermonters often have a New England accent.


New Jersey and South Carolina are two states that border the Atlantic Coast. Their coastlines are home to a significant number of beaches, swamps, and estuaries. Neither state is particularly mountainous. Both have a few rolling hills, but are mostly low-lying coastal plains. Their lands have large swathes of pine forests, since they have dry, acidic soils. Neither state has a high percentage of farmland. They also get about the same amount of precipitation. However, South Carolina’s climate is warmer than New Jersey’s. Still, both states have four distinct seasons, one key characteristic of temperate climates.

However, these two states are vastly different in terms of demographics, culture, politics, and infrastructure. While South Carolina has a significantly higher percentage of African American residents, New Jersey has a more diverse population that includes large numbers of Asian and Latino residents, many of whom are immigrants. Furthermore, a much higher percentage of people in South Carolina are Baptists, while New Jersey has more Catholics. Another difference is that people in New Jersey tend to be wealthier and more educated.

Since 2000, South Carolina has always voted for Republican presidential candidates, while New Jersey has only voted for Democrats. Their laws are drastically different as well. New Jersey’s laws are much more favorable to immigrants and labor unions. South Carolina has many restrictions on abortion, in contrast to New Jersey. However, New Jersey has far more restrictions on firearms and smoking in public places. In addition, capital punishment and corporal punishment are banned in New Jersey, but they are still allowed in South Carolina.


New York and West Virginia are two states in the Eastern time zone. A large portion of both states is covered by the Appalachian Mountains. A relatively low percentage of the land in these states is used to grow crops. These states also have similar flora and fauna. Their forests are mostly temperate broadleaf trees. In addition, they have a similar climate, although upstate New York tends to be colder since it is further to the north. Although New York is not landlocked like West Virginia, it has relatively little coastline aside from Long Island.

Although they are in close proximity, these states have massive demographic differences. West Virginia is one of the states with the highest percentages of White people. In contrast, New York is extremely diverse, with more Latinos, Blacks, and Asians. It also has a higher percentage of people with Italian ancestry. In addition, New Yorkers tend to be wealthier are more educated than West Virginians. It also has a much higher percentage of unmarried people. Another big difference is that West Virginia is more religious than New York.

As a result of their demographics, these states are far different politically as well. Since 2000, West Virginia has always voted for Republican presidential candidates, while New York has only voted for Democrats. New York has some of the strongest gun restrictions in the country. In contrast, gun ownership in West Virginia is extremely high. Unlike New York, a relatively high percentage of its people have hunting licenses. New York is somewhat skewed by the fact that a high percentage of its people live in New York City. It also has the lowest amount of vehicles per capita, since many people commute using public transportation.


State 1 State 2Demo.CulturePoliticsInfra.Geog.TotalGeography – Total Ave.
New YorkNew Hampshire13.212.712.
VermontNew York13.712.712.712.
West VirginiaNew York108.410.211.114.554.43.7
South CarolinaNew Jersey12.88.88.411.515.256.83.8
West VirginiaVermont14.39.59.811.816.261.83.9

(Minimum 72% Geographical Similarity)

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