The East Asian Country Most Similar to Sub-Saharan Africa

East Asia and Sub-Saharan African are two of the least similar regions in the world. Determining the East Asian country most similar to Sub-Saharan Africa 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.

The data suggests that among East Asian countries, North Korea is the most similar to Sub-Saharan Africa. On the other end of the spectrum, Japan is the least similar.

(East Asian countries are defined as China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan)

east asian countries most similar to sub-saharan Africa graph

North Korea stands out as the most similar country in East Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa due to its demographics, politics, and infrastructure. It is the least developed country in the region. Many of its people work in agriculture. Furthermore, like many African nations, its government is a dictatorship that allows little freedom of press.


North Korea, like many Sub-Saharan African countries, has a relatively young population. A large portion of its population is under the age of 30. This is in stark contrast to other East Asian nations, especially Japan, which has the oldest population in the world. This is because it has a higher birth rate combined with a lower life expectancy.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the least wealthy regions. North Korea is the poorest country in East Asia. Most of its people live in poverty. Unfortunately, the country has experienced several periods of food shortages and famines over the years.


Many African countries have experienced prolonged periods of authoritarian rule. A single party dictatorship is dominant in several African countries including Zimbabwe, Angola, Eritrea, and Cameroon, among many others. North Korea’s government is similar in this characteristic. These countries have faced international criticism and allegations of human rights abuses, including political repression, lack of freedoms, and forced labor.


Like most Sub-Saharan African countries, North Korea faces challenges in infrastructure development. Decades of isolation, economic difficulties, and a focus on military priorities have hindered significant investments in infrastructure. Access to basic services like electricity, clean water, and internet is limited. Many of North Korea’s roads are still just dirt and few people in the country own vehicles.

The Most Similar Sub-Saharan African Country to North Korea

The Country Similarity Index suggests that Eritrea is the most similar Sub-Saharan African country to North Korea. The biggest reason is that they are both governed by authoritarian regimes with tight control over their respective countries. A single dominant political party maintains control over their governments. They tightly control the media and limit access to external information. Both nations have faced international criticism and allegations of human rights abuses. In part due to their isolationism, Eritrea and North Korea have struggled with economic development.

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