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Visualizing the World’s Most Popular Religions

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The World's Most Popular Religions

Visualizing the World’s Most Popular Religions

According to some estimates, there are over 4,000 religions, faiths groups, and denominations that exist around the world today. Researchers and academics generally categorize the world’s religions into five major groups: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.

This graphic by Chit Chart visualizes the most popular religions around the world, using the latest available data from Index Mundi’s world demographics.

In addition to the five major religious groups, the graphic includes two more categories: one for a collective of Folk religions and another for people who are unaffiliated with a religion.

The Religions with the Most Followers

Although the number of people who follow a religion has decreased in recent decades, 82.8% of the global population still identifies with one of the world’s major religions.

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular religions, ranked by their following as a percentage of the world’s population:

RankReligion% of World’s Population
1Christian31.4%
2Muslim23.2%
3Unaffiliated16.4%
4Hindu15.0%
5Buddhist7.1%
6Folk Religions5.9%
7Jewish0.2%
8Other0.8%

Christianity has the largest following with approximately 31% of the global population. Muslims make up the second-largest religious group, accounting for 23.2% of the world’s population.

Roughly 16.4% of the global population is unaffiliated with a religion. This figure exceeds the percentage of people who identify with Hinduism (15%), Buddhism (7.1%), Folk Religions (5.9%), or Judaism (0.2%).

The World’s Religions from Oldest to Newest

Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world, originating in the Indus River Valley (modern-day Pakistan) circa 7000 BCE.

While Judaism came after Hinduism, it is thought to be the oldest of the three monotheistic Abrahamic faiths, making it older than Christianity and Islam.

It began circa 2000 BCE in the Southern Levant (modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan). By contrast, Christianity was founded in the 1st century and began as a movement within Judaism.

Scholars typically date the creation of Islam to the 7th century, making it the youngest of the world’s major religions on this list. Islam was established in Mecca (modern-day Saudi-Arabia).

One religion that’s not included on this list is Sikhism. Founded in the late 15th century, it’s relatively new, especially compared to other religions like Hinduism or Judaism. Yet, despite being new, Sikhism has a large following—according to some estimates, there are over 25 million Sikhs worldwide.

What are Folk Religions?

A folk religion is defined as an ethnic or cultural practice that exists outside the theological doctrine of organized religions.

Lacking sacred texts, Folk religions are more concerned with spirituality than rituals or rites. Examples of Folk religions include Native American traditions, Chinese folk religions, and traditional African religions.

Since Folk religions are less institutionalized, they are especially challenging to measure and often excluded from surveys. With that said, an estimated 5.9% of the global population (approximately 430 million people) practice a Folk religion.

The Fastest-Growing Religions

While Islam is the newest of the big five religions, it’s currently the world’s fastest-growing one too. For context, here’s the estimated percent change among the seven religion categories, between 2015 and 2060:

RankReligious GroupEst. % change in population size (2015-2060)
1Muslims70%
2Christians34%
3Hindus27%
4Jews15%
5Folk religions5%
6Unaffiliated3%
7Buddhists-7%

Islam’s rapid growth means it may surpass Christianity as the world’s largest religion within the next half-century. What’s causing this growth?

According to Pew Research Center, the main reason is simply demographics—on average, Muslim women have 2.9 children, which the average of all non-Muslims is 2.2.

Muslims are also concentrated in Africa and the Middle East, the two regions predicted to have the highest population increases in the next few decades.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Demographics

Visualizing Racial Diversity in America’s 10 Largest States

Here’s how racial diversity breaks down across the 10 largest U.S. states by population—from California to Michigan.

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Visualizing Racial Diversity in America’s 10 Largest States

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Over the last decade, America has become increasingly more diverse as demographic patterns shift across the population.

With over 39 million people, California is not only the most populous state, but one of the most diverse in the country.

This graphic shows the racial diversity of the 10 biggest states by population, based on data from the U.S. Census.

How Diverse Are America’s Most Populous States?

Here is the racial breakdown of the 10 largest U.S. states:

StateWhite (%)Black (%)Asian (%)Other (%)
California5661523
Texas6912514
Florida7216310
New York6215914
Pennsylvania791146
Illinois7014611
Ohio801225
Georgia573247
North Carolina682138
Michigan781436

As the table above shows, California has the highest proportion of Asian Americans across the top 10 states, comprising 15% of the population.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s ethnic makeup includes 32% of Black Americans, the highest across the most populous states. As diversity has risen over the last decade, it has significantly influenced politics at both the state and national level. The state voted Republican for every presidential election from 1996-2016, but flipped blue in 2020.

With 80% of the population being White Americans, Ohio has the highest share across the biggest states. While diversity has increased since 2010, it has been seen mostly in urban and suburban districts while diversity has stagnated in rural areas.

Overall, 24% of rural areas in the U.S. are made up of non-White Americans, rising by a median rate of 3.5% across counties since 2010. While this debunks the myth that “rural” is synonymous with “white”, racial diversity across rural areas falls below the national average of 42% of the population being people of color.

Beyond the top 10 states, ethnic diversity is the highest in Hawaii, Nevada, and Maryland.

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