The 23 Food Regions of the World

The Country Food Similarity Index is an attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. The analysis is primarily based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which tracks the supply of food available for human consumption in each country. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries.

The data from the Country Food Similarity Index was used to cluster countries into different regions based on their diets. This resulted in 7 loosely defined regions and 23 distinct sub-regions. It must be noted that even countries within the 23 different sub-regions may still have significantly different diets, since each nation is unique. The ingredients mentioned on the map are true of the region as a whole, but not necessarily individual countries. The groupings are based on two different forms of hierarchical clustering and averages of each grouping.

ward’s method hierarchical cluster

average linkage hierarchical cluster

The data shows that the diets of some countries exhibit traits of two different regions. For example, food in Haiti could be grouped into with Latin American or Sub-Saharan African diets and Kazakhstan could be grouped with East European or Central Asian diets. Although no map can fully encapsulate global food patterns, it is hoped that this study has established a starting point for comprehending food regions around the world. Ingredients listed on the map reflect the most common starches, fruits, vegetables, and proteins in each region.

Despite the meticulous methodology, it’s crucial to acknowledge the inherent limitations of this map. Variations in data collection methods, the reliability of data across countries, and the influence of globalization on cuisine are factors that add complexity to the study. Furthermore, the rise of culinary globalization has further blurred traditional boundaries.

The countries in each food region and their individual pages are as follows:

1-A) France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Malta
1-B) Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Georgia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Russia, Ukraine
1-B/1-C) Belarus, Slovenia, Croatia
1-C/1-B) Hungary
1-C) Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, United Kingdom
1-C/A) United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Switzerland, Luxembourg
1-C/6-B) Argentina, Uruguay
1-C/2-B) Israel

2-A) Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain
2-A/2-B) Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen
2-B) Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Albania, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria
Iraq, Iran, Libya
2-B/1-B) Albania, Azerbaijan
Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
2-C/1-B) Kazakhstan
2-A/5-B) Mauritania, Djibouti
2-A/3-A) Maldives

3-A) China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan
3-A/3-B) Malaysia
3-B) Philippines, Indonesia
3-C/3-B) Thailand, Vietnam
3-C) Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos
3-C/3-D) Sri Lanka
3-D) India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan
3-A/4-E) East Timor
3-B/6-C) Guyana, Suriname
3-B/6-B) Dominican Republic

4-A) Zambia, Zimbabwe
4-B) Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda
4-C) Rep. of Congo, Mozambique, Dem. Rep of Congo, Angola
4-D) Central African Rep., Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast
4-E/4-D) Guinea
4-E) Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Madagascar

5-A) Chad, South Sudan
5-B) Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Sudan
5-C) Ethiopia
5-B/4-E) Gambia

6-A) South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho
6-B) Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Cape Verde
6-B/6-C) Belize
6-C) Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent, Grenada, Seychelles,
6-B/3-B) Cuba
6-B/4-E) Haiti
6-B/4-A) Paraguay
6-C/3-B) Fiji
6-C/2-A) Mauritius

7-A) Solomon Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Comoros
7-A/7-B) Papua New Guinea
7-B) Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe

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