Religion may be a touchy subject, but that’s because it’s filled with a lot of feeling. As much as 80% of the world identifies with a religion, most of which have hundreds or thousands of years of history. Rather than feeling, this post is brimming with data. We’ve mapped every country in the world below, along with the religious demographics of each country. Using the grouping features of BatchGeo, you can explore the rich dataset visually, the best way to understand the details behind the data.
View Religions by Country in a full screen map
For example, click the button in the lower left of the map, currently labeled “Region.” You can choose any of the various fields of data to zero in on a religion, region, or other field. Better yet, you can mix and match, to answer questions like “what religion is most popular in countries with the most people who don’t affiliate with a religion?” You can find the answer by selecting Unaffiliated, choosing the highest range, then looking at the ranges still available as you choose the other fields. You’ll find Buddhism and Folk Religions about equal with unaffiliated in a handful of Asian countries. There are also a number of Christian countries, especially in Europe, with large numbers of unaffiliated people.
There are many ways to go through the data yourself (based on this Wikipedia page). We’ll cover the highlights by religion below.
Christianity Around the World
Christianity is the most widespread religion in the world, with 157 countries with a majority who identify as Christian. There are 2.1 billion Christians, almost one third of the the world population. The United States has the most number of Christians by whole numbers, with nearly 250 million. Brazil (173M), Mexico (107M), and Russia (104M) join the U.S. in the hundreds of millions of Christians.
Yet, percentage-wise, none of those countries even make the top 25 Christian nations in terms of percentages. There are five countries with 99% or higher rate of Christianity, with one country reaching 100%. Once you know it, you won’t be surprised: Vatican City (within Italy, but officially a country), home of the Pope, has 800 residents, every single one a Christian. The other countries with at least 99% Christians are Tokelau (99.8%) in Polynesia, Timor-Leste (99.6%) in Southeastern Asia, Romania (99.5%), and Papua New Guinea (99.2%). While Tokelau has a small population (1,400), the others are over a million each, with Romania at over 20 million.
While Christianity is spread throughout the world more than other religions, there are clumps of high percentage practitioners. Latin America, the South Pacific, Southern Africa, and Europe all have multiple countries with at least 90% Christian residents.
On the flip side, there are many countries with only a very few Christians. Somalia, with a population of over 9 million, is home to 100 Christians, or one-thousandth of a percent of the population. Most of its citizens are Muslim, as are other countries with few Christians, including Morocco, Afghanistan, Tunisia, and Yemen.
Islam Around the World
Islam is the religion practiced by Muslims, and it is second only to Christianity in popularity worldwide. There are 1.5 billion Muslims, accounting for 23% of the world. There are 49 majority Muslim countries, making Islam and Christianity the only religions with more than 10 countries with majority populations.
Indonesia has over 200 million Muslims, more than any other country. Others with 100 million or more are India (176M), Pakistan (167M), and Bangladesh (133M). Only one of these, Pakistan, is top 25 in percentages. It has the 23rd most Muslims by percentage. Nine countries have 99% or more of their population practicing Islam: Morocco (99.9%), Somalia (99.8%), Afghanistan (99.7%), Iran (99.5%), Tunisia (99.5%), Yemen (99.1%), Mauritania (99.1%), Northern Cyprus (99%), and Iraq (99%). With the exception of Northern Cyprus, these countries have populations ranging from 3.4 million to over 70 million.
Unsurprisingly, the countries with the highest number of Muslims are clustered in the Middle East, including Northern Africa and into Central Asia. By contrast, there are 45 countries that apparently have no Muslims. The lowest number reported is Falkland Islands with nine Muslims, which makes up 0.3% of the South American country.
Hinduism Around the World
Though it doesn’t get the television news coverage of Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is the religion of over a billion people, or 15% of the world population. Yet, most of them live in one country.
The vast majority of Hindus live in India, where 973 million people make up almost 80% of the country’s people. The rest of the top five include Nepal (24M), Bangladesh (13M), Indonesia (4M), and Pakistan (3.2M). Among those, Nepal barely tops India in terms of percentage Hindu. Nearly 81% of Nepalese are Hindu. Only one other country is majority Hindu, Mauritius, in Eastern Africa.
Buddhism Around the World
The religion of Buddha is the fourth-most popular religion, the practice of just under 500,000 worldwide. While not in the billions like the others, that’s still 7% of the population. While more than half of Buddhists live in China (244M), there are several other countries with many that follow The Buddha. The top five are rounded out with Thailand (64M), Japan (45M), Burma (38M), and Vietnam (15M).
In terms of percentages, a couple of those same countries make the list. Cambodia is first percentage-wise, at 96.9%. It’s also the sixth-most in total numbers. Thailand (93.2%), Burma (80.1%), Bhutan (74.7%), and Sri Lanka (69.3%) fill out the top five. Only two others, Laos and Mongolia, are majority Buddhist. As is likely obvious from the list, Buddhism is most popular in Southern and Southeast Asia.
Folk Religions Around the World
Unlike the other religions on the map, this group is made up of many small religions based on cultural or ethnic elements. These folk religions, as they are known, are separate from organized religions, though they may borrow some elements of one or more popular religions.
There are about 400,000 people who practice a folk religion. While that’s a small number compared to the major religions, it’s still nearly 6% of the world population. The bulk of the practitioners are in China (293M), where folk religions make up over 20% of its population. There are 5 million or more in four other countries: Vietnam (42M), Taiwan (10M), India (6M), and Brazil (5M). Macau in Eastern Asia is the only country that is a majority folk religion (58.9%). Vietnam (45%) and Taiwan (44%) are nearly so.
Judaism Around the World
The last on the list of affiliated religions is Judaism. There are 13 million Jewish people in the world, accounting for just one-fifth of a percent of the worldwide population. The United States and Israel are home to most of those 13 million, with just over 5 million each. The bottom three countries of the top five are Canada, France, and the United Kingdom, each with around 300,000 followers of Judaism.
Beyond the 75% of Israel that is Jewish, most countries have 2% or fewer. While over 150 countries report no Jewish people, Afghanistan has one. Zablon Simintov lives alone next to the only synagogue in the country and has received special permission to slaughter his own meat since there are no kosher butchers in Afghanistan.
Atheism and Unaffiliated Religions Around the World
We’re listing unaffiliated religions last, though together this group is 1.1 billion people, about 16% of the world population. However, unaffiliated does not mean atheist, agnostic, or even non-spiritual, though those are all included. Rather, it’s a catch-all for anyone who does not identify with a specific religion.
Nearly 700 million of those who do not affiliate with a religion live in China, which accounts for a narrow majority of its citizens (52%). Japan (72M), France (50M), Vietnam (28M), and Russia (23M) also have high numbers of unaffiliated. Other majority unaffiliated countries include Czech Republic (76%), North Korea (71%), Estonia (59%), Japan (57%), and Hong Kong (56%). Eastern Asia and Europe are the most popular regions for being areligious.
Again, not having a religion is not the same as atheism, which is a disbelief in any God. According to some studies, the most atheist country is France, with 40% claiming there is no “spirit, God, or life force.” Those numbers don’t quite measure up with the unaffiliated data in the map above, which shows France at 28% unaffiliated (63% Christian and 7.5% Muslim). It’s possible someone might affiliate with a religion while not believing its teachings.
Nevertheless, the data shown on the map above provides a glimpse into how the seven billion people on earth think about religion. There are many more insights to be had in the large version of the world religion map.