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Old 02-07-2012, 10:44 AM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
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Canada
U.K.
Ireland
Australia
New Zealand
France
Germany
Sweden
Norway
Finland

Only rich western countries are culturally most similar to the U.S.
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque
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I would have put Scandinavia near the top of the list and Mexico further down. I live in New Mexico and New Mexico has more European influence (British/Germanic first, Spanish second) than Mexican with the exception of a few neighborhoods with a high number of recent Mexican immigrants.

Mexican culture is very driven by its indigenous (Native) culture. American culture is not influenced by the Native Americans from here much less the indigenous people of the country to our south.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:24 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Since a lot of clear similarities have already been mentioned now (English speaking, western, Christian, high GDP, developed) and all of the US's allies and cultural kin listed, I'm going to answer with a spin.

The US is the third largest country in population in the world. It's also a large country in land area and geographical reach. In terms of being large and populated, it shares this feature not with its cultural kin and other western, developed nations like it, but the only two others to exceed its population, two non-western, and still-developing nations that originated with completely different civilizations. Yes, we're talking India and China.

So, let's see what similarities the US can share with India and China. Obviously, they are nothing alike in some ways. Neither of the other two have advanced anywhere close to the west. But being big itself and having lots of bulk in terms of cities and people, and influencing surrounding nations whether culturally, economically or geography, is in and of itself a similarity that "big countries" share.

How about some other eccentric similarities I can find, thinking outside the box?

First India.

Both the US and India are the largest democracies, and composed of political units called "states". Both were former British colonies. Both are very regionally diverse, and people from one state have different laws and customs from another and can be very proud of it, putting their region or state's identity first, such as being proud to be Texan or a southerner or from the hip Pacific Northwest and many people take their own state's culture as best. People from India tell me there's huge pride based on the various states in India too such as north Indians and south Indians looking down on one another. I believe other big countries like China and Russia are more politically unified and homogenous in political units and laws like states/subregions than India or the US, where states have cultural components and are fiercely independent/less centralized.

Also, both in the US and India, there is no official state religion. But interestingly, in both countries, there is still religious tensions based on majority social pressure, often regionally, and governments don't have anything to do with it. If a Hindu village fights a Muslim village because Muslim man wants to marry a Hindu woman, that is localized to social/family life, same with an atheist or New Ager in Tennessee or an evangelical Christian in Portland trying to get along with one another's families. Social pressure is the result of individual families, peer groups, not laws, not big governments etc.. This contrasts in countries like Iran, China or the former USSR, where it really is "big government" interfering with religion and pressuring you what to believe/show belief (or lack thereof).

Also US has the world's oldest film industry as everyone knows. India is now actually the country in the world that produces the most films overall, even if they have nowhere near as much cultural spread. But hey, where'd the name Bollywood take its cue? Some India's movies copy western styles. My friend showed me some Indian action movies and it's amazing how many of them seem like re-imagings or remakes of Hollywood movie plot elements (for example, Memento).

Lastly, it's interesting to note that the US and India, though one is rich and one is poor have converged on an attitude about work/economics/social mobility that mixes it with theology. In the US, there is an influence of Puritanism/Calvinism that connects salvation to wealth (ie. the idea as wealth will come as a result of salvation, poverty, or low social mobility might come to those who are not righteous etc.). Similarly, in India, there is a caste system and social rank is rationalized by karma in Hinduism (ie. If you are wealthy, it's because you did good deeds in a past life, if you are poor, it's punishment for bad deeds). Note: I am not saying whether this belief is justified or not, or right or wrong nor that all people of the country hold it; it's just that in these two countries, this attitude can be found. In other countries, people may talk about God punishing individual sinners and rewarding the good etc., but there is less focus on this punishment manifesting itself throughcapitalism/economics/jobs/social mobility or economic disparities at a societal level. (ie. more people in these two societies might say "God's will/karma explains economic situation" than in some other countries).

Then China.

Firstly, both the US and China are big, densely populated countries that have a larger, but less densely populated country to the north of it.
Both American citizens and the Chinese seem very patriotic and proud of their "civilization", whether it was founded closer to 300 years or 3000 years, but one similarly many people do not realize is how similar not culturally but geographically/climate-wise the land of China and the US is.

Both the US and China are big countries that range from subarctic to subtropical and near-tropical, such as from Alaska to Hawaii and Maine to Florida. No other big countries have such diversity. Brazil and India are big but mostly tropical. Russia and Canada are big but mostly cold in climate. The US has the largest diversity of climates and China a big less than it but still very diverse, since it borders Russian Siberia and Vietnam's jungles. Also, only in the US and China (before human interference) did a humid closed-canopy type forest continuously stretch in a gradual transition, unbroken by dry plains, deserts other or geographical barriers, from tropical rainforest (okay, swamp forest in the Gulf coast and Florida) to boreal forest where it's frozen nearly year-round. They said a squirrel could have went from Maine to Florida, pre-human arrival, from branch to branch without getting down. A similar wide forest zone also existed in China.

Just like the US, China's founding started in the east of its region in a more humid, four-seasons climate and then expanded westward where it's frontiers were more mountainous, often rough and had deserts/plains.

Botanists, geographers and scientists have known for over 2 centuries that there is a similarity in the flora of the temperate east-coast USA, the eastern deciduous forest, and the forests of China. Even some of the fauna are kind of similar. There are some species of trees of certain biological genus or subfamilies, where there are only two closely related species exist in this group and one species is American and the other is Chinese (or in the region of China). For example the, familiar to US easterners, tulip tree (Liriodendron)'s next closest relative is the Chinese tulip tree, which lives in the same climate zone as it on a different continent. Same goes with the sassafras tree. The closest relative to the redwood trees in the US is a smaller type of tree, the dawn redwood (Metasequoia) that was only recently discovered in China, during the WWII period. The paddlefish, giant salamanders (the Hellbender salamander belongs to this group) and alligators are examples of animals that are also found in the US, China natively (or nearby Japan in the salamander's case) but nowhere else in between. This similarity is due to shared geographical links and also climate similarity. For example American alligators and China's alligators both can tolerate a bit cooler weather than the tropical crocodiles. Climatologists and biologists say that temperate China and the US have one some of the most similar ecological zones. This similarity in climate also explains why bamboo has become a weed/pest in the US... there are places where it is used to the climate.

Both the US and China both have one language that dominates, English and Chinese, and in both countries they are proud of having one language to unify things (this contrasts with say, Europe/the EU or India where one language "dominating" is frowned upon). There are minorities in each country, and sometimes smaller languages/dialects but there is a strong pressure against accomodating the smaller tongues. (This can manifest itself in a smaller scale too, like people speaking with Southern accents in the US being biased for job interviews etc., even though the dialect differences in China are bigger than that apparently, or in places where there is conflict with getting Hispanic Spanish speakers in the US to assimilate).

Last edited by Stumbler.; 02-08-2012 at 07:57 PM..
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:22 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Good job Stumbler, you've put a lot of thought into that analysis!

I would say the diversity in the US pales in comparison to India. People talk about how the US is so culturally diverse; compared to many countries even much smaller it's not that diverse. In Britain you can go 20 miles and hear a different accent. In the US, you can go 2,000 miles and people will still talk the same way. India is a language of 5,000 ethnic groups, almost as many languages, many competing religions...while Hinduism is the majority religion, there is actually nothing tangible that unites the South Asian state.

There are more comparisons with the US and China. Both were culturally influential (the US worldwide in the modern era, China for thousands of years to surrounding nations and through it's inventions the world too). Both are economic powerhouses (the US still the largest economy, China the biggest exporter). Citizens of both consider themselves the best country in the world - so much so that neither had much interest in direction colonisation, rather economic colonisation (the US in the Middle East and China in Russia, for instance). Both of course have one main language, with sizeable minority languages (Spanish and Yue/Cantonese). Both were founded by a process of annexation of territory - the Han had it's nexus in the Yellow River Valley, and gradually spread out from there Sinifying first East China and now the rest of the territory of the PRC. Indeed, a number of states united to form the first Dynasty, very similar to the creation of the Union. The US originated on the eastern colonies and gradually acquired territory through various means.

Climatically and geographically they are indeed the two most diverse nations in the world. I believe the US has every climate there is (if one includes Hawaii and PR). China includes the world's third longest river, highest mountains, deserts, and of course large swathes of sub-tropical and boreal forests, largely now cleared. The Midwest is the breadbowl of the US - the north China Plain and Yangtze River floodplain are the same for China.

I think this century may well be China's century. While I think English will remain as the global lingua franca, Mandarin Chinese may compete for prestige in the Asian sphere as the language of business. If China embraces English, as it seems to be doing, it's cultural influence on the West is not to be underestimated.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:20 PM
 
Location: Purgatory
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The UK is not that culturally similar to the US at all. If we were to swallow our pride and dump the Euro-scepticism, we would be able to admit that we have more in common with our fellow northern Eurpean neighbours than the US.

Trimac...only the "new world" countries can really be compared to the US, including Australia. Many of those countries were former colonies and founded on the same principles as the US. I actually think that of all the European countries, Ireland probably has the most in common with the US. Perhaps also Switzerland and Finland because of their firearms laws?

Us Brits...we just use the same language. Aside from that, we like totally different sports, different music, our working and living philosophies are different and our political systems are quite different.
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Old 02-08-2012, 11:45 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonborn View Post
The UK is not that culturally similar to the US at all. If we were to swallow our pride and dump the Euro-scepticism, we would be able to admit that we have more in common with our fellow northern Eurpean neighbours than the US.

Trimac...only the "new world" countries can really be compared to the US, including Australia. Many of those countries were former colonies and founded on the same principles as the US. I actually think that of all the European countries, Ireland probably has the most in common with the US. Perhaps also Switzerland and Finland because of their firearms laws?

Us Brits...we just use the same language. Aside from that, we like totally different sports, different music, our working and living philosophies are different and our political systems are quite different.
You think Ireland is more like the US than Aus and the UK? Can you iterate why?

Australia is physically similar to the US - so suburban, car-dominated - in fact I would say Australia is the most car dominated, suburban country in the world after the States. While Canada is more similar it's cities seem more compact, in between US and European cities.

Anyway, the distinguishing differences between the US and Australia are cultural, political and legal. Things like our accent, the metric system.etc. Our heritage is far more British than the US, even if both countries have a British substrate.

Australia is more American and less European than Britain in some ways. We have large expanses of open land, a shared cowboy/stockman myth of the Outback/the West, lots of rednecks, a liking for big powerful cars, utes/pickups, 4WDs/SUVs, a liking for country music in the country. A culture very much based around the credo 'a man's home is his castle' and a lifestyle that revolves around this paradisic view of a domestic paradise.
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Old 02-08-2012, 11:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Statistics for black South Africans are pretty much identical to neighbouring countries. The life expectancy, prevalence of AIDS, general living standards are similar.
Depends which neighbouring African country. An majority of black south Africans now have electricity at their homes. In addition even though most blacks are very poor at least 40% of the 10% richest South Africans are now black. In Zimbabwe to buy an loaf of bread cost over an billion dollars of their local currency and they have an huge shortage of basic goods. In Botswana the GDP is higher than South Africa but their is an gap between the rich and poor of course.

Yet Aids is an serious problems there and thats the main reason why South Africa and Botswana life expectancy is low.

Last edited by other99; 02-09-2012 at 12:21 AM..
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Brazil
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The Brazilian culture is very different from the American culture.

Of course there was a process of "Americanization" of the Brazilian culture in the last decades, due to the American music and American movies, but the cultures are still very different.

I would say that, if you take the two major Brazilian cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the city of Sao Paulo is more "Americanized" than Rio de Janeiro. But Sao Paulo is still not an "American-style city".
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Purgatory
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
You think Ireland is more like the US than Aus and the UK? Can you iterate why?

Australia is physically similar to the US - so suburban, car-dominated - in fact I would say Australia is the most car dominated, suburban country in the world after the States. While Canada is more similar it's cities seem more compact, in between US and European cities.

Anyway, the distinguishing differences between the US and Australia are cultural, political and legal. Things like our accent, the metric system.etc. Our heritage is far more British than the US, even if both countries have a British substrate.

Australia is more American and less European than Britain in some ways. We have large expanses of open land, a shared cowboy/stockman myth of the Outback/the West, lots of rednecks, a liking for big powerful cars, utes/pickups, 4WDs/SUVs, a liking for country music in the country. A culture very much based around the credo 'a man's home is his castle' and a lifestyle that revolves around this paradisic view of a domestic paradise.
Ireland was founded on similar principles to the US - rebellion against the British. Many of their road signs are new world, certain American terms such as 'Yield' are also used in Ireland. Country music has many of its roots in Ireland, Ireland is one of the few republics in the English speaking world and they were big on deregulation. There is a strong bond between Irish Americans and the home country. People in America seem far more proud of their Irish roots than English.

The UK is most culturally similar to the Scandinavian countries IMO, particularly Norway and Denmark. We watch the same sports, are equally reserved, equally Euro-sceptic, have similar humour and have constitutional monarchies. I've never been to Australia, but believe Bill Bryson's analysis that Australians are kind of like Brits and Americans in a blender (I can't remember what he said exactly, but it was words to those effects).
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by dragonborn View Post
Ireland was founded on similar principles to the US - rebellion against the British. Many of their road signs are new world, certain American terms such as 'Yield' are also used in Ireland. Country music has many of its roots in Ireland, Ireland is one of the few republics in the English speaking world and they were big on deregulation. There is a strong bond between Irish Americans and the home country. People in America seem far more proud of their Irish roots than English.

The UK is most culturally similar to the Scandinavian countries IMO, particularly Norway and Denmark. We watch the same sports, are equally reserved, equally Euro-sceptic, have similar humour and have constitutional monarchies. I've never been to Australia, but believe Bill Bryson's analysis that Australians are kind of like Brits and Americans in a blender (I can't remember what he said exactly, but it was words to those effects).
I not sure if the UK and Scandinivian countries are equally reserved as I not met that many people from Scandinivian. Yet I find the people of the UK less reserved than Australians. New Zealanders are less reserved than Australians I find too.
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