Determining the Sub-Saharan African country most similar to Central 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 Djibouti is the most similar Sub-Saharan African country to Central Asia. On the other end of the spectrum, Liberia has the least amount of traits in common with Central Asian countries.
(Central Asian countries defined as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan)
Let’s analyze the ways in which Djibouti‘s culture, politics, and geography have a lot in common with Central Asia. Both are located along historical trade routes that connected them with the Arabian Peninsula. Djibouti, with its access to the Red Sea, has long been a crossroads for Arab traders. Similarly, Central Asia’s position along the Silk Road facilitated trade with the Arabian Peninsula.
Both Djibouti and most Central Asian countries are predominately Muslim, but they also have significant Christian populations as well. As a result, most of their males are circumcised. Furthermore, wheat is the primary source of food in Djibouti and Central Asia. It is used to make a variety of breads. Both cuisines have been influenced by the nomadic lifestyle. Traditional dishes often include ingredients that are portable and have a longer shelf life.
Both Djibouti and most Central Asian countries are ruled primarily by one party . In Djibouti, the People’s Rally for Progress has been the ruling party since independence, and President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, has maintained a strong grip on the political landscape, often winning votes in a landslide. Countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Tajikistan, have been governed by strongman leaders too.
Both Djibouti and Central Asia tend to get very little rainfall, so they have arid climates. As a result, their vegetation is sparse and most of their land is not forested. Furthermore, these areas are quite sparsely populated as well. Most of the people in Djibouti and Central Asia live in the city. Djibout is located in the northeastern portion of Africa, so it is also closer to Central Asia than most Sub-Saharan African countries.
The Most Similar Central Asian Country to Djibouti
The Country Similarity Index suggests that Turkmenistan is the most similar Central Asian country to Djibouti. Both nations have relatively centralized and authoritarian governance. They also have invested significantly in developing their infrastructure. Turkmenistan has constructed pipelines to transport gas to international markets. Djibouti has built port facilities to position itself as a trade hub.