196 country flags from around the world

Religious composition of countries

The world has become increasingly secular in recent decades. However, religion remains a integral part of the lives of many people, and 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group.

The religious profile of the world is changing rapidly, primarily due to differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as people changing religions.

Using data from Pew Research Centerwe break down the religious composition of the main religions in the countries of the world.

Religious composition of the world by major religions

Determining the exact number of religions around the world is a daunting task. Many religions can be difficult to categorize or distinguish for those who are not intimately familiar with their doctrine.

The Pew Research Center organizes the world’s religions into seven major categorieswhich includes five major religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism), a category that broadly includes all popular/traditional religions, and an unaffiliated category.

Overall, Christianity has the most of these categories. About 31% of the world’s population are Christians, closely followed by Muslims 25%. Jews have the smallest population of the major religions, with only 0.2% of the world identifying as Jewish.

Let’s take a look at the religious makeup of the world considering the regions:

Region the Christians Muslims Not affiliated Hindus the Jews Buddhists Popular
North America 74.6% 1.3% 19.2% 0.8% 1.6% 1.2% 0.4%
Latin America-Caribbean 89.7% 0.1% 8.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 1.8%
Europe 72.2% 6.8% 20.0% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.1%
Middle East-North Africa 3.6% 93.1% 0.6% 0.6% 1.6% 0.2% 0.3%
Sub-Saharan Africa 62.0% 31.4% 3.0% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 3.2%
Asia Pacific 7.2% 25.7% 20.0% 26.0% 0.1% 11.3% 8.6%
World 31.0% 25.0% 15.6% 15.2% 0.2% 6.6% 5.6%

From Islam being the dominant religion in the Middle East to more 95% Cambodians and Thais following Buddhism, here is the prevalence of all major religions in the world.

Christianity

The world’s largest religion, Christianity, is practiced by approximately 2.4 billion people.

The country with the largest number of practicing Christians is the United States, with a Christian population of 253 million. Brazil and Mexico follow closely with 185 million and 118 million Christians respectively.

Christianity historically spread throughout the world and remains a geographically widespread religion today. Over the past century, it has become less concentrated in Europe while spreading more evenly across the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

Islam

Even though it is the predominant religion of Middle Eastern and North African countries, in numbers, Asian countries have the highest percentage of practicing Muslims in the world.

It may surprise you to know that 14.2% Indians are Muslims. As a result, the country is home to one of the biggest in the world Muslim populations, surpassed only by Indonesia.

Map of the composition of Islam in the world

Islam is also the world fastest growing major religion. The number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70%, from 1.8 billion in 2015 to almost 3 billions in 2060. The fact that they have the youngest median age, at 24, also contributes to this population growth.

Judaism

While Jews were historically found all over the world, Judaism today is highly concentrated geographically. More than four-fifths of all Jews live in just two countries: the United States and Israel. Israel is the only country with a Jewish majoritywith 76% of the population being observant Jews.

Map of the composition of Judaism in the world

The largest remaining shares of the world’s Jewish population, with the exception of the United States and Israel, are found in Canada (about 3% of the country’s population), France (2%), the United Kingdom (2%), Germany (2%), Russia (2%) and Argentina (between 1% and 2%).

Not affiliated

The population with no religious affiliation includes atheists, agnostics, and people who do not identify with any particular religion. 720 million of the Chinese population consider themselves no religious affiliation, while 78% Czechs feel the same way.

Map of the composition of Unaffiliated in the world

However, it should be noted that many people with no religious affiliation have religious or spiritual beliefs. For example, surveys have found that faith in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of unaffiliated Chinese adults, 30% of unaffiliated French adults and 68% of unaffiliated American adults.

Hinduism

Hinduism is the third religion in the world, with approximately 1.2 billion Hindus in many countries. Interestingly, however, Hinduism is the dominant religion in only three countries, India with 79%, Nepal with 80% and Mauritius with 48%.

Map of the composition of Hinduism in the world

Although Hinduism is rarely a country’s main religion, it still enjoys a global presence. Many parts of the world are home to significant populations of Hindus, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America.

Buddhism

According to estimates, half of the world’s Buddhists live in China. Yet they only compose 18% of the country’s population. Most of the rest of the world’s Buddhists live in East and South Asia, including 13% in Thailand (where 93% of the population is a Buddhist).

Map of the composition of Buddhism in the world

Buddhism in Asia is both about identity and practice. Scholars and journalists have documented that many Asian countries can engage in Buddhist practices without considering themselves part of an organized religion.

popular religion

popular religion is any ethnic or cultural religious practice that falls outside the doctrine of organized religion. Based on popular beliefs and sometimes referred to as folk or vernacular religion, the term refers to the way people experience and practice religion in their daily lives.

World Folk Religion Composition Map

In 2020, it is estimated 429 million people, about 6% of the total world population, were members popular or traditional religions. Some notable folk religions include African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions, and Australian Aboriginal religions.

Abdul J. Gaspar