The Sub-Saharan African Country Most Similar to East Asia

Determining the Sub-Saharan African 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.

The data suggests that South Africa is the most similar Sub-Saharan African nation to East Asia. On the other end of the spectrum, Niger has the least amount of traits in common with East Asia.

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

graph of countries in africa most similar to east asia

Let’s analyze South Africa with respect to three key categories: demographics, infrastructure, and geography to show why it is the most similar country in Sub-Saharan Africa to East Asia, despite the fact that three of the five least similar countries to it are located in East Asia.


Most East Asian countries have populations that are much older than the global average. Sub-Saharan African countries tend to have younger populations. However, South Africa’s median age is 28 years old, the highest among countries in the region. Furthermore, South Africa’s average education and income levels are among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its GDP per capita is around $14,400, much more than a majority of countries in the region. It also has one of the highest literacy rates. Unlike most Sub-Saharan African countries, the majority of its people work in the service sector, not agriculture. This also makes it more similar to most East Asian countries.


In Sub-Saharan Africa, infrastructure is not nearly as well developed as in most East Asian countries. However, South Africa has some of the best infrastructure on the continent. The country has the second highest number of vehicles per capita in the region, behind only Botswana. It also has by far the most frequently used passenger railroad system in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Urban areas in South Africa generally have well-developed water supply and sanitation systems. Major cities have access to treated drinking water and modern sanitation facilities, contributing to better public health outcomes than other Sub-Saharan African countries. South Africa has also developed an extensive network of dams and reservoirs.


Generally speaking, East Asian countries tend to have cooler climates than Sub-Saharan Africa countries. Since South Africa is at the continent’s southern-most point and much of its land is at a high elevation, it has the coolest temperature in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of Lesotho. In fact, during the winter months, some areas of South Africa get snow.

East Asia is well known for its many famous peaks, like Mt. Everest and Mt. Fuji. However, Africa is not an especially mountainous continent. South Africa is one exception. The Drakensberg is a stunning and rugged mountain range that spans several of its provinces. The country also has a lot of coastline, like China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

The Most Similar East Asian Country to South Africa

The Country Similarity Index suggests that China is the most similar East Asian country to South Africa. Both China and South Africa have large and diverse populations. They also have experienced rapid urbanization and modernization in recent decades. This has led to significant social and economic changes. The economy of these countries relies on industry. China has many large-scale fatories, while South Africa has a lot of mines. In addition, China is the only country in East Asia with a significant amount of desert land.

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