Have you ever wondered which pair of countries are the least similar in Europe?
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 suggestions for what European countries might be the least similar.
1. Iceland – Moldova
There are many cultural differences between Iceland and Moldova. Although both countries speak Indo-European languages, Icelandic and Romanian are quite different. Furthermore, Iceland is mostly Protestant, while Moldova is mostly Orthodox Christian. Their food is far different as well. Iceland consumes far more meat, especially more seafood, than Moldova.
Iceland is known for its stable democratic government and high level of political transparency. Moldova, on the other hand, has experienced political turbulence since gaining independence from the Soviet Union. Corruption is extremely common. Their laws are different as well. Iceland allows same-sex marriage unlike Moldova. Moreover, casinos are illegal in Iceland, but Moldova has legalized gambling.
Infrastructure development is another area where Iceland and Moldova have substantial differences. Iceland boasts modern and efficient infrastructure. An abundance of geothermal and hydroelectric energy sources power the country. Conversely, Moldova’s infrastructure is not well developed. It is dependent on natural gas to create electricity. One reason is that Moldova is not nearly as wealthy as Iceland.
The geographical contrast between Iceland and Moldova is perhaps the most apparent difference. Iceland is a geological marvel with dramatic landscapes, including volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, and hot springs. Moldova, a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, is relatively flat and a high percentage of its land is used for farmland.
2. Finland – Albania
Finland and Albania have significant differences in their demographics. Albania’s population is relatively young, with a median age of around 32 years. In contrast, Finland is characterized by an aging population, with a median age of about 43 years. In addition, a much lower percentage of people in Albania have a college education than in Finland.
Albania is the one of a few predominately Muslim countries in Europe, while Finland is mostly Protestant. In addition, their native languages do not even belong to the same language family. Albanians tend to be far more outgoing than the Finnish. They value personal space and privacy, and social interactions are often characterized by a sense of politeness. Another difference is that ice hockey is a much more popular sport in Finland than in Albania.
These countries also have extremely different governments. Albania, after transitioning from communism in the early 1990s, has struggled with political instability and corruption. In contrast, Finland is known for its high levels of transparency, low corruption, and strong welfare state. Their laws are different as well. Finland allows same-sex marriage unlike Albania. Furthermore, Finland allows the use of medicinal marijuana.
Albania and Finland display have notable differences in their infrastructure development. Finland has a highly advanced and modern infrastructure, with well-maintained roads, efficient public transportation, and cutting-edge technological networks. Most of Albanian’s power comes from hydroelectricity. Finland uses a combination of difference energy sources, including nuclear and biomass.
The geographical contrast between Albania and Finland is striking. Albania is an extremely mountainous country that borders the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, it has relatively mild winters and hot, dry summers. Finland, in contrast, is quite flat and has many lakes. Its climate is quite cold, since its northern region stretches into the Arctic Circle. Albania is also more densely populated than Finland.
3. Iceland – Belarus
Iceland and Belarus are quite different in terms of culture. Although both countries speak Indo-European languages, Icelandic and Russian are quite different. Furthermore, they even use different alphabets. Iceland is mostly Protestant, while Belarus is mostly Orthodox Christian. Their food is far different as well. Iceland consumes more meat, especially more seafood, than Belarus.
These countries have extremely different governments as well. Iceland is known for its stable democratic governance and high levels of political transparency. In contrast, Belarus has had an authoritarian government that has been dominated by one leader for an extended period. Its government has been criticized for its lack of democracy and human rights concerns.
Belarus has a more extensive and industrialized infrastructure, reflecting its larger population and urban centers. The country’s transportation network includes a well-developed rail system and a significant road network. In contrast, Iceland does not have public railways, since it is more sparsely populated. Another difference is that Belarus is dependent on natural gas to create electricity, while Iceland uses geothermal and hydropower.
Iceland is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, while Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. Iceland has a unique landscape, including volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, and hot springs. In contrast, Belarus is relatively flat and a high percentage of its land is used for farmland. Still, both countries do have relatively cold climates.