Determining the European country most similar to East 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.
Although all European countries are far different from East Asian countries, the data suggests that Bulgaria is the most similar to East Asia. On the other end of the spectrum, Iceland is the least similar European country.
(East Asian countries defined as China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan)
Bulgaria has a few more similarities with East Asian countries than other European countries for several reasons. Politics, infrastructure, and geography are three broad categories that they have some aspects in common.
Like many East Asian countries, Bulgaria has strict drug policies, including the criminalization of marijuana. Furthermore, Bulgaria does not recognize same-sex marriage, like all East Asian countries, except for Taiwan. In contrast, most Western and Northern European countries have legalized same-sex marriage. Both Bulgaria and some East Asian countries face challenges related to media freedom and freedom of the press too.
Compared to many Western and Northern European countries, Bulgaria has a higher prevalence of residential high-rise buildings, especially in its major cities. Urbanization has led to increased demand for housing in urban centers. In addition, coal power is the primary source of electricity in Bulgaria. This is also the case in Taiwan, Japan, and China.
Like East Asian countries, Bulgaria is fairly mountainous. Furthermore, its climate is similar to Japan, Korea, and Northeastern China. Most of Bulgaria has a humid continental climate, so it has four seasons and marked by large temperature differences. As a result, much of their land is covered by deciduous forests.
The Most Similar East Asian Country to Bulgaria
The Country Similarity Index suggests that South Korea is the most similar East Asian country to Bulgaria. There are a few major reasons for this. South Korea has the highest percentage of Christians in East Asia. Furthermore, the climate of Bulgaria and South Korea is relatively similar. Their infrastructure standards are alike as well, since they use Type C, F electrical outlets, drive on the right side of the road, and use standard gauge railroad track.