Determining the South Asian country most similar to Southeast 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 Sri Lanka is the most similar South Asian country to Southeast Asia. On the other end of the spectrum, Pakistan has the least amount of traits in common with countries in Southeast Asia.
(Southeast Asian countries are defined as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam)
Geography and culture are the two biggest reasons why Sri Lanka stands out as the most similar South Asian country to Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka has historically been a vital hub in the Indian Ocean trade routes. Its strategic location made it a crossroads for maritime trade between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Most Sri Lankans follow Theravada Buddhism, which is also practiced in several Southeast Asian countries. The country also has significant Muslim and Christian populations as well, reflecting Southeast Asia’s religious diversity. Furthermore, rice is by far the most commonly eaten ingredient in both Sri Lankan and Southeast Asian diets. Various rice-based dishes, including rice and curry combinations, are central to the culinary traditions of both regions.
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, conducive to rice cultivation, since it is hot and humid. As a result, a significant portion of the country’s agricultural land is devoted to rice paddies. This is a shared feature with most Southeast Asian nations. Furthermore, since Sri Lanka is an island, it has an abundance of coastline, like the majority of Southeast Asian countries.
The Most Similar Southeast Asian Country to Sri Lanka
The Country Similarity Index suggests that Thailand is the most similar East Asian country to Sri Lanka. Most people in both countries practice Theravada Buddhism. In addition, the Thai script is similar to the scripts used in Sri Lanka, specifically Sinhala and Tamil, since they evolved from the Tamil-Brahmi script. Furthermore, Sri Lanka is the most highly developed country in South Asia. Thailand and Sri Lanka’s average education, income, and infrastructure are on a similar level.