Mapped: The World's Major Religions, by Distribution
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Mapped: The World’s Major Religions

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Map of the religious composition around the world

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Religious Composition of Countries

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

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

With the help of data from Pew Research Center, we break down the religious composition of the major religions in countries worldwide.

Religious Makeup of the World by Major Religions

Determining the exact number of religions across the world is a daunting task. Many religions can be difficult to categorize or to tell apart for those not intimately familiar with their doctrine.

Pew Research Center organizes the world’s religions into seven major categories, which includes five major religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism), one category that broadly includes all Folk/Traditional religions, and an unaffiliated category.

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

Let’s take a look at the religious composition of the world when accounting for regions:

RegionChristiansMuslimsUnaffiliatedHindusJewsBuddhistsFolk
North America74.6%1.3%19.2%0.8%1.6%1.2%0.4%
Latin America-Caribbean89.7%0.1%8.0%0.1%0.1%0.1%1.8%
Europe72.2%6.8%20.0%0.2%0.2%0.2%0.1%
Middle East-North Africa3.6%93.1%0.6%0.6%1.6%0.2%0.3%
Sub-Saharan Africa62.0%31.4%3.0%0.2%0.1%0.1%3.2%
Asia-Pacific7.2%25.7%20.0%26.0%0.1%11.3%8.6%
World31.0%25.0%15.6%15.2%0.2%6.6%5.6%

From Islam being the dominant religion in the Middle East to over 95% of Cambodians and Thais following Buddhism, here’s how prevalent every major religion in the world is.

Christianity

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

The country with the highest 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.

Map of the composition of Christianity around the world

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

Islam

Even though it’s the predominant religion of countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, by sheer number, countries in Asia have the highest percentage of practicing Muslims in the world.

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

Map of the composition of Islam around the world

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

Judaism

While Jews historically have been found all around the globe, Judaism is highly geographically concentrated today. 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 majority, with 76% of the population being practicing Jews.

Map of the composition of Judaism around the world

The largest remaining shares of the global Jewish population apart from the U.S. and Israel are 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%).

Unaffiliated

The religiously unaffiliated population includes atheists, agnostics, and people who do not identify with any particular religion. 720 million of the Chinese population consider themselves religiously unaffiliated, while 78% of Czechs feel the same way.

Map of the composition of Unaffiliated around the world

However, it is worth noting that many of the religiously unaffiliated hold some 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 U.S. adults.

Hinduism

Hinduism is the third-largest religion worldwide, 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 around the world

Although Hinduism is rarely a country’s primary religion, it still enjoys a global presence. Many regions around the world support significant populations of Hindus, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, North America, and South America.

Buddhism

According to estimates, half the world’s Buddhists live in China. Still, they make up only 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 Buddhist).

Map of the composition of Buddhism around the world

Buddhism in Asia is a matter of both identity and practice. Scholars and journalists have documented that many Asian countries may engage in Buddhist practices without considering themselves part of any organized religion.

Folk Religion

Folk religion is any ethnic or cultural religious practice that falls outside the doctrine of organized religion. Grounded on popular beliefs and sometimes called popular or vernacular religion, the term refers to how people experience and practice religion in their daily lives.

Map of the composition of Folk Religion around the world

As of 2020, an estimated 429 million people, about 6% of the world’s total population, were adherents of folk or traditional religions. Some notable folk religions include African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions, and Australian aboriginal religions.

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Visualized: The World’s Population at 8 Billion

Our population will soon reach a new milestone—8 billion. These visualizations show where all those people are distributed around the world

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Visualized: The World’s Population at 8 Billion

At some point in late 2022, the eight billionth human being will enter the world, ushering in a new milestone for humanity.

In just 48 years, the world population has doubled in size, jumping from four to eight billion. Of course, humans are not equally spread throughout the planet, and countries take all shapes and sizes. The visualizations in this article aim to build context on how the eight billion people are distributed around the world.

For extended coverage of this moment and what it means to the world, you can get access to our full report and webinar by signing up to VC+, our premium newsletter.

Now, here’s a look at each country’s population as of September 2022:

Global RankCountry/RegionPopulation (2022)
1🇨🇳 China1,451,832,064
2🇮🇳 India1,410,982,243
3🇺🇸 United States335,391,957
4🇮🇩 Indonesia280,139,383
5🇵🇰 Pakistan230,918,073
6🇳🇬 Nigeria218,243,241
7🇧🇷 Brazil215,986,577
8🇧🇩 Bangladesh168,436,792
9🇷🇺 Russia146,074,130
10🇲🇽 Mexico132,030,739
11Japan125,619,457
12Ethiopia121,709,461
13Philippines112,939,493
14Egypt106,839,825
15Vietnam98,311,965
16Democratic Republic of Congo96,104,525
17Iran86,465,398
16Turkey86,415,852
19Germany84,385,892
20Thailand70,192,866
21United Kingdom68,691,253
22France65,597,276
23Tanzania63,802,882
24South Africa61,027,608
25Italy60,264,287
26Kenya56,557,929
27Myanmar55,236,333
28Colombia52,123,686
29South Korea51,367,770
30Uganda49,222,889
31Spain46,795,195
32Sudan46,265,964
33Argentina46,141,195
34Algeria45,695,757
35Ukraine43,156,242
36Iraq42,348,230
37Afghanistan40,993,541
38Canada38,495,773
39Morocco37,914,397
40Poland37,754,428
41Saudi Arabia36,069,266
42Angola35,327,540
43Uzbekistan34,589,376
44Peru34,031,086
45Mozambique33,346,961
46Malaysia33,319,730
47Ghana32,594,574
48Yemen31,371,445
49Nepal30,357,476
50Madagascar29,381,411
51Venezuela28,257,503
52Cameroon28,111,718
53Cote d'Ivoire27,925,649
54Niger26,344,186
55Australia26,178,342
56North Korea26,033,387
57Taiwan23,913,311
58Burkina Faso22,270,251
59Mali21,646,251
60Sri Lanka21,615,470
61Malawi20,304,147
62Chile19,489,734
63Zambia19,613,655
64Kazakhstan19,292,183
65Romania18,956,053
66Guatemala18,688,479
67Syria18,506,569
68Ecuador18,262,799
69Senegal17,793,385
70Chad17,553,601
71Cambodia17,252,457
72Netherlands17,219,859
73Somalia16,951,984
74Zimbabwe15,362,663
75Guinea13,981,705
76Rwanda13,712,855
77Benin12,878,142
78Burundi12,740,471
79Tunisia12,101,418
80Bolivia12,039,974
81Haiti11,721,737
82Belgium11,703,272
83South Sudan11,494,756
84Cuba11,311,223
85Dominican Republic11,096,411
86Czechia10,753,478
87Jordan10,434,463
88Azerbaijan10,347,430
89Greece10,310,847
90Honduras10,269,662
91Sweden10,241,804
92United Arab Emirates10,164,747
93Portugal10,130,876
94Hungary9,605,987
95Tajikistan10,042,202
96Belarus9,442,398
97Papua New Guinea9,342,727
98Austria9,122,566
99Israel8,969,013
100Switzerland8,798,256
101Togo8,737,152
102Serbia8,659,648
103Sierra Leone8,357,040
104Hong Kong SAR7,635,279
105Laos7,519,384
106Paraguay7,333,782
107Libya7,086,602
108Bulgaria6,833,885
109Nicaragua6,805,420
110Kyrgyzstan6,774,001
111Lebanon6,758,016
112El Salvador6,560,071
113Turkmenistan6,236,038
114Singapore5,954,898
115Congo5,839,721
116Denmark5,838,070
117Finland5,559,984
118Norway5,517,561
119Slovakia5,465,545
120Oman5,414,812
121Palestine5,381,277
122Liberia5,338,398
123Costa Rica5,200,150
124Ireland5,064,136
125Central African Republic5,025,077
126Mauritania4,940,298
127New Zealand4,911,293
128Panama4,472,108
129Kuwait4,416,533
130Croatia4,049,640
131Moldova4,013,174
132Georgia3,972,171
133Eritrea3,659,593
134Uruguay3,500,798
135Mongolia3,400,693
136Bosnia and Herzegovina3,235,985
137Armenia2,975,648
138Qatar2,994,073
139Jamaica2,990,290
140Albania2,870,809
141Puerto Rico2,704,519
142Namibia2,648,122
143Lithuania2,640,339
144Gambia2,578,866
145Botswana2,462,832
146Gabon2,349,783
147Lesotho2,180,846
148North Macedonia2,083,183
149Slovenia2,079,575
150Guinea-Bissau2,077,878
151Bahrain1,845,321
152Latvia1,840,901
153Equatorial Guinea1,514,454
154Trinidad and Tobago1,409,672
155Timor1,377,091
156Estonia1,328,527
157Mauritius1,276,493
158Cyprus1,227,303
159Eswatini1,187,627
160Djibouti1,021,185
161Comoros913,105
162Fiji911,185
163Réunion909,806
164Guyana795,114
165Bhutan791,064
166Solomon Islands726,764
167Macao SAR669,734
168Luxembourg649,600
169Montenegro628,243
170Western Sahara632,115
171Suriname598,608
172Cape Verde569,810
173Micronesia (Fed. States of)561,300
174Maldives561,291
175Brunei447,038
176Malta444,182
177Belize414,449
178Bahamas401,818
179Guadeloupe400,277
180Martinique374,617
181Iceland346,259
182Vanuatu324,088
183French Guiana317,076
184New Caledonia291,762
185Mayotte288,384
186Barbados288,162
187French Polynesia284,580
188Sao Tome and Principe228,652
189Samoa201,401
190Saint Lucia185,519
191Channel Islands177,517
192Guam172,146
193Curaçao165,604
194Kiribati123,690
195Grenada113,966
196Saint Vincent and the Grenadines111,732
197Tonga108,440
198Aruba107,787
199United States Virgin Islands104,083
200Antigua and Barbuda99,773
201Seychelles99,725
202Isle of Man86,049
203Andorra77,542
204Dominica72,387
205Cayman Islands67,492
206Bermuda61,769
207Marshall Islands60,095
208Northern Mariana Islands58,336
209Greenland56,991
210American Samoa54,920
211Saint Kitts and Nevis54,052
212Faeroe Islands49,281
213Sint Maarten43,991
214Turks and Caicos39,924
215Monaco39,873
216Saint Martin40,198
217Liechtenstein38,374
218San Marino34,091
219Gibraltar33,669
220British Virgin Islands30,687
221Caribbean Netherlands26,779
222Palau18,288
223Cook Islands17,600
224Anguilla15,308
225Tuvalu12,126
226Nauru10,978
227Wallis and Futuna10,818
228Saint Barthelemy9,945
229Saint Helena6,118
230Saint Pierre & Miquelon5,732
231Montserrat4,999
232Falkland Islands3,723
233Niue1,651
234Tokelau1,396
235Holy See806

Below are regional breakdowns of population.

Africa’s Population by Country

As of 2022, Africa’s total population stands at 1.4 billion people. Many of the countries with the fastest growth rates are located in Africa and by 2050, the population of the continent is expected to jump to 2.5 billion.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of African countries in 2022

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and its largest economy. Based on current growth rates, Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, could even emerge as the world’s top megacity by the end of the century.

Africa has by far the lowest median age of any of the other continents.

Asia’s Population by Country

With 4.7 billion people in 2022, Asia is by far the world’s most populous region.

The continent is dominated by the two massive population centers of China and India. In 2023, a big shift will occur, with India surpassing China to become the world’s most populous country. China has held top spot for centuries, but the mismatch between the two countries’ growth rates made it only a matter of time before this milestone arrived.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of Asian countries in 2022

Asia is a region of contrast when it comes to population growth. On the one end are countries like Singapore and Japan, which are actually shrinking. On the other, are Middle Eastern nations like Oman and Qatar, which have robust population growth rates of 4-5%.

Vietnam is on the cusp of becoming the 15th country to surpass the 100 million population mark.

Europe’s Population by Country

Europe’s population in 2022 is 750 million people—more than twice the size of the United States.

A century ago, Europe’s population was close to 30% of the world total. Today, that figure stands at less than 10%. This is, in part, due to population growth throughout other regions of the world.

More importantly though, Europe’s population is contracting in a number of places—Eastern Europe in particular. Many of the countries with the slowest growth rates are located in the Balkans and former Soviet Bloc countries.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of European countries in 2022

Russia remains Europe’s largest country by population. Although the country’s landmass extends all the way across Asia, three-quarters of Russia’s people live on the European side of the country.

Germany is the second largest country in Europe, followed by the UK, France, and Italy.

Ukraine is the seventh largest population center in Europe, but it remains to be seen how the current conflict with Russia impacts the country’s long-term population prospects.

North America’s Population by Country

North America’s population is 602 million people as of 2022.

The continent is dominated by the United States, which makes up more than half of the total population. America’s population is still growing modestly (by global standards), but perhaps more interesting are the internal migration patterns that are occurring. States like Texas and Florida are seeing an influx from other states.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of North American countries in 2022

Canada has one of the highest population growth rates of major developed economies thanks to international migration.

Mexico is currently the 10th most populous country, but will eventually be bumped from the top 10 list by fast-growing African nations.

South America’s Population by Country

The population of South America in 2022 is 439 million. Brazil makes up nearly half of that total.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of South American countries in 2022

Sometime this decade, Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, will become the region’s fifth megacity (which is defined as having a population of 10 million or more). São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Lima are South America’s current megacities.

Oceania’s Population by Country

The population of the Oceania region is 44 million people—just slightly higher than the population of California.

Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea make up the lion’s share of the population of this region.

Data visualization showing a population breakdown of Oceania's countries in 2022

Interestingly, many of the smallest countries by population can also be found in this region.

When Will Earth’s Population Hit 9 Billion?

The next global population milestone—nine billion—will likely be hit sometime in the 2030s.

In fact, Earth’s population is expected to continue growing until it hits a peak at some point in the 2080s—possibly over the 10 billion mark.

world at 8 billion report

Where does this data come from?

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division via Worldometer’s live tracker (as of Sept 27, 2022).

Context: The UN has estimated that November 15th, 2022, will be the date that the world population officially hits 8 billion.

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Science

Explainer: The Basics of DNA and Genetic Systems

All living things have a genetic system made up of DNA. This graphic explores the basics of DNA composition and structure.

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Explainer: The Basics of DNA and Genetic Systems

While there is great diversity among living things, we all have one thing in common—we all rely on a genetic system made up of DNA and/or RNA.

But how do genetic systems work, and to what extent do they vary across species?

This graphic by Anne-Lise Paris explores the basics of DNA and genetic systems, including how they’re structured, and how they differ across species.

Composition of Genetic Systems: DNA and RNA

A genetic system is essentially a set of instructions that dictate our genetic makeup—what we look like and how we interact with our environment.

This set of instructions is stored in nucleic acids, the two main types being deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).

While most living things rely on a mix of DNA and RNA for cellular reproduction, some viruses just use RNA to store their genetic information and replicate faster.

DNA is made up of four molecules, known as nucleotides: Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine ( C), and Guanine (G). These nucleotides are grouped in sets of two, which are called base pairs.

Size of Genomes Across Different Organisms

Human DNA is made up of approximately 3.2 billion base pairs that are tightly wound up and stored in our cells. If you were to unwind and measure the DNA stored in a single human cell, it would be about 2 meters (6.5 feet) long!

This lengthy DNA is stored in pairs of chromosomes. A full collection of chromosomes, or an entire set of genetic information, is referred to as a genome.

Genomes vary in size, depending on the organism. Here is a look at 24 different species and the size of their genomes, from animals and plants to bacteria and viruses:

OrganismKingdomSize of genomes (number of base pairs)
Poplar treePlant500,000,000
HumanAnimal3,200,000,000
ChimpanzeeAnimal3,300,000,000
Marbled lungfishAnimal130,000,000,000
DogAnimal2,400,000,000
WheatPlant16,800,000,000
PufferfishAnimal400,000,000
Canopy plantPlant150,000,000,000
Mouse-ear cressPlant140,000,000
CornPlant2,300,000,000
MouseAnimal2,800,000,000
MossPlant510,000,000
Fruit FlyAnimal140,000,000
C. ruddiiBacteria160,000
S. pombeFungi13,000,000
S. cerevisiaeFungi12,000,000
S. cellulosumBacteria13,000,000
H. pyloriBacteria1,700,000
E. coliBacteria4,600,000
Panadoravirus s.Virus2,800,000
HIV-1Virus9,700
Influenza AVirus14,000
BacteriophageVirus49,000
Hepatitis D virusVirus1,700

The Marbled Lungfish has the largest known animal genome. Its genome is made up of 130 billion base pairs, which is about 126.8 billion more than the average human genome.

Comparatively, small viruses and bacteria have fewer base pairs. The Hepatitis D virus has only 1,700 base pairs, while E. coli bacteria has 4.6 million. Interestingly, research has not found a link between the size of a species’ genome and the organism’s size or complexity.

In fact, there are still a ton of unanswered questions in the field of genome research. Why do some species have small genomes? Why do some have a ton of redundant DNA? These are still questions being investigated by scientists today.

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