Determining the “most westernized” country in Southeast Asia requires considering various social, cultural, economic, and political factors. One way to answer this complex 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 from five broad categories: demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography. An analysis of the data clearly shows that the Philippines is the Southeast Asian country most similar to Western countries. The data also shows that Cambodia is the least similar.
(Western countries defined as Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Southeast Asian countries are defined as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.)
Culture is the biggest reason why the Philippines is ranked as the “most westernized” country in Southeast Asia. However, Malaysia‘s average is not far behind the Philippines, since it is wealthier and has a better standard of living.
The Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years and then a colony of the United States for nearly 50 years. These periods of colonization significantly influenced the country’s culture, language, religion, and governance systems.
Like most Western countries, the Philippines is predominately Christian. Furthermore, English is one of the official languages in the Philippines. It is widely spoken and used for business, education, and government. Therefore, the country has adopted many Western cultural elements, such as the celebration of Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween.
Western media, including music, movies, and television shows, are popular in the Philippines. While retaining its unique culinary traditions, the Philippines has also adopted many Western dishes and dining habits. Fast food chains, like McDonald’s and KFC, are popular.
The Most Similar Country in Europe to the Philippines
The Country Similarity Index suggests that Albania is the most similar country to the Philippines, followed by Poland and Cyprus. The biggest reason is that Albania has one of the lowest standards of living in Europe. Also both countries are mountainous and many of their people live close to the coastline. Even though Albania is mostly Muslim, both countries have a mix of both Christians and Muslims.