World Bulletin / News Desk
Half of the world's population is constituted by Muslims and Christians.
There are 2.2 billion Christians (32 percent of the world's population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23 percent), 1 billion Hindus (15 percent), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7 percent) and 14 million Jews (0.2 percent) around the world as of 2010, according to Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The demographic study - based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers - estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84 percent of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.
In addition, more than 400 million people (6 percent) practice various folk or traditional religions, including African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions. An estimated 58 million people -slightly less than 1 percent of the global population -belong to other religions, including the Baha'i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism.
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 percent), Buddhists (99 percent), adherents of folk or traditional religions (90 percent) and members of other world religions (89 percent).
Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76 percent) 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 percent). About 20 percent of Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa, and nearly 16 percent reside in sub-Saharan Africa.
Of the major religious groups covered in the study, Christians are the most evenly dispersed. Roughly equal numbers of Christians live in Europe (26 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (24 percent) and sub-Saharan Africa (24 percent).
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the world's people live in countries in which their religious group makes up a majority of the population. Only about a quarter (27 percent) of all people live as religious minorities. (This figure does not include subgroups of the eight major groups in the study, such as Shia Muslims living in Sunni-majority countries or Catholics living in Protestant-majority countries.)
Overwhelmingly, Hindus and Christians tend to live in countries where they are in the majority. Fully 97 percent of all Hindus live in the world's three Hindu-majority countries (India, Mauritius and Nepal), and nearly nine-in-ten Christians (87 percent) are found in the world's 157 Christian-majority countries.
Though by smaller margins, most Muslims (73 percent) and religiously unaffiliated people (71 percent) also live in countries in which they are the predominant religious group. Muslims are a majority in 49 countries, including 19 of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The religiously unaffiliated make up a majority of the population in six countries, of which China is by far the largest. (The others are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hong Kong, Japan and North Korea.)
Most members of the other major religious groups live in countries in which they are in the minority. Seven-in-ten Buddhists (72 percent), for example, live as religious minorities. Just three-in-ten (28 percent) live in the seven countries where Buddhists are in the majority: Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Some religions have much younger populations, on average, than others. In part, the age differences reflect the geographic distribution of religious groups. Those with a large share of adherents in fast-growing, developing countries tend to have younger populations. Those concentrated in China and in advanced industrial countries, where population growth is slower, tend to be older.
The median age of two major groups - Muslims (23 years) and Hindus (26) - is younger than the median age of the world's overall population (28). All the other groups are older than the global median. Christians have a median age of 30, followed by members of other religions (32), adherents of folk or traditional religions (33), the religiously unaffiliated (34) and Buddhists (34). Jews have the highest median age (36), more than a dozen years older than the youngest group, Muslims.Last Mod: 19 Aralık 2012, 09:18