The Southeast Asian Country Most Similar to Sub-Saharan Africa

Determining the Southeast 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 countries from the Southeast Asian region, Philippines is the most similar to Sub-Saharan Africa. On the other end of the spectrum, Singapore is the least similar.

(Southeast Asian countries are defined as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam)

southeast asian countries most similar to sub-saharan Africa graph

While there are certainly other countries in Southeast Asia that are slightly more similar to Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of demographics, infrastructure, and politics, the Philippines stands out as having by far the most similar culture to Sub-Saharan Africa in the region. The Philippines was a former colony of Spain and the United States, similar to how many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were colonized by European powers. This colonial history has had a lasting impact on the country’s culture.

Religion is one big reason why the culture in the Philippines is much closer to Sub-Saharan Africa than other nations in Southeast Asia. It is the only country in the region that is mostly Christian, although it has a significant Muslim population as well. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar have more Buddhists.

Language is another reason. While there are a multitude of languages spoken in Africa but different ethnic groups, English is used as lingua franca between communities. Since the Philippines was colonized by the United States, English is also widespread in the Philippines. Furthermore, unlike the Philippines, many Southeast Asian country do use the Latin script.

The Philippines also has the highest homicide rate in the region. Africa’s murder rate is twice the world average. Over 90% of males in the Philippines are circumcised, while it is rare in some other parts of Southeast Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa has a higher prevalence of circumcision than world average.

The Most Similar Sub-Saharan African Country to the Philippines

The Country Similarity Index suggests that Madagascar is the most similar Sub-Saharan African country to the Philippines, although Liberia is a close second. It is believed that around the 7th century, many people from Southeast Asia migrated to Madagascar. As a result, people in both Madagascar and the Philippines natively speak Austronesian languages. Both countries are tropical islands that grow a lot of rice as well.

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