Determining the Central Asian 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.
It is no surprise that the data suggests that Mongolia is the most similar Central Asian country to East Asia. In fact, it is often considered to be part of East Asia. On the other end of the spectrum, the data suggests that Tajikistan is the least similar to East Asia.
(East Asian countries are defined as China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan)
The lines between regions of the world can sometimes be blurry. Despite the fact that most geographers classify Mongolia as part of East Asia, the Index clearly classifies it as part of Central Asia. Still, Mongolia definitely has many more similarities with East Asia than other Central Asian countries, due to its demographics and culture.
The ancestry of Mongolians is generally more closely linked to East Asia than to the mixed East Asian/Caucasian ancestry often found in Central Asia. Studies have identified genetic affinities between Mongolian populations and those in East Asia, particularly China and Korea. This common genetic heritage contributes to shared physical features.
Mongolia’s predominant religion is Buddhism, which aligns more with the religious landscape of East Asia. In contrast, other Central Asian countries are predominately Muslims. Furthermore, since Mongolia has relatively few Muslims, it has a low rate of circumcision, like most East Asian countries.
The Most Similar East Asian Country to Mongolia
The Country Similarity Index suggests that China is the most similar East Asian country to Mongolia. It is the only East Asian country that Mongolia borders. In fact, there are more ethnic Mongols living in China than Mongolia itself. Both countries have extensive grassland and arid regions, unlike other East Asian countries.