Who believes what and where

WORLDWIDE, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group.
A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the world population of about seven billion.

The demographic study – based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers – finds 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%), 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010.

At the same time, the study by the Pew Forum also finds that roughly one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16%) have no religious affiliation. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious group worldwide, behind Christians and Muslims, and about equal in size to the world’s Catholic population. Surveys indicate that many of the unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual beliefs (such as belief in God or a universal spirit) even though they do not identify with a particular faith. (See Religiously Unaffiliated.)

The geographic distribution of religious groups varies considerably. Several religious groups are heavily concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region, including the vast majority of Hindus (99%), Buddhists (99%), adherents of folk or traditional religions (90%) and members of other world religions (89%).

Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) also live in the massive and populous Asia- Pacific region. Indeed, the number of religiously unaffiliated people in China alone (about 700 million) is more than twice the total population of the United States.

The Asia-Pacific region also is home to most of the world’s Muslims (62%). About 20% of Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa, and nearly 16% reside in sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the major religious groups covered in this study, Christians are the most evenly dispersed. Roughly equal numbers of Christians live in Europe (26%), Latin America and the Caribbean (24%) and sub-Saharan Africa (24%).


7 thoughts on “Who believes what and where

  1. The Asia-Pacific region also is home to most of the world’s Muslims (62%).

    Nearly half the worlds population live in that area. 🙂


  2. Yeah….I remember a statistic from years ago that reported a woman in china was giving birth every 8 minutes.
    I wrote to the publisher and insisted that somebody should tell her to stop it!


  3. Surely it is well past time we stopped humouring the billions of religious people on this planet who insist on worshiping their imaginary super friends in the sky. Is it just because there ARE billions of them and we somehow think that billions can’t be wrong?

    Well, truth isn’t a popularity contest, though religions might be, and if one or a few people can be wrong, a few billions agreeing with them won’t make them right. Not being able to prove their fantasies wrong doesn’t make them right either, especially when they can’t demonstrate any proper, testable evidence to back up their way-out and blatantly silly claims.

    Whichever way you look at it, from the patently ridiculous beliefs, the mind-numbing circular logic and the cascade of logical fallacies to the insistence on faith, which is pretty much a guarantee of being wrong, through the immorality of the gods and examples of the holy books, to the denial not only of death but of the value of the one life we have, religion has it all arse-about. Rather than being a badge of honour, faith is an admission of determined ignorance.

    With religion, sex is portrayed as bad, pleasure equally so; convincing yourself that wishful thinking will grant you anything you want, being eager to do anything to avoid the hell-fire your religion has fooled you into fearing in the first place; all these things distort the perceived reality of the religious mind.

    Not content with that, the tax-dodging religious enterprises are hell-bent on coercing the rest of us into the same insane emotional strait-jackets, ignoring the testable truths that only the scientific method can give us and thereby even denying the reality of our own biological heritage and history.

    Anywhere we look in the world where religion has held its rigid control of societies or governments we find an excess of cruelties, restrictions and suffering. Christianity brought us the Dark Ages, the Witch Hunts and the Inquisitions. Now it fights against stem-cell research, Sunday trading and voluntary euthanasia while subjecting our children to not-so-subtle indoctrination under the guise of the Chaplaincy Program, where children needing support are being denied trained and competent counsellors in favour of “caring” religious salespeople.

    Where Islam gained full control it shut down broader learning in favour of Koran-blinkered indoctrination and memorization and thereby stultified its own civilizations, cruelly restricting its women and inciting its men to behave aggressively towards all “unbelievers.” Its ruthless spread continues apace, exciting itself with the brutal ignorance of the ages and causing havoc everywhere in the world where it interfaces with other faiths and none. Not content with that, this religion of peace inspires its worst mayhem and genocide even within its own borders, while ever pressing outwards.

    It is time our societies grew up and faced the truths of one life emerging from oblivion and re-entering it again at death. This makes our one life even more precious. It is all the more important that we try to make this life the best we can, not only for ourselves, but for everyone else who shares this planet. We should tolerate diversity with the exception of those who seek to restrict the human rights of tolerant people.

    Religion can have positives like a sense of community and acceptance. Such things can and should still be encouraged without religion. That way we can avoid the crazy superstition and the infantile wishful thinking while celebrating the wonders of life and a reality we can know and not simply be imagining while wasting that one life we have.


      • Well, if truth really is “that which can be verified”, then my criticisms are valid.
        Things which can never be verified, such as probably all religious beliefs, would then have to be very likely untrue, especially if they also go against common sense.and life observations.

        Claiming to know anything by “faith” of the religious kind (meaning believing anything, however unlikely , because it was written down in ancient times and added to by a collection of imaginative and superstitious people with none of the general knowledge of most people today) is hardly a recipe for getting anything right.

        Bearing in mind that we are not talking about occasional good works done in the name of religion, nor about any perceived benefits which religion might possibly bring to its adherents, which bits do you think I’ve got wrong?

        Look at what Islam is doing to the world today. The brutality we see is well supported and even mandated in their holy books. Christianity has been just as brutal in its time.


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