The map above shows which religion is the fastest growing in each country around the world based on data from Pew Research Center’s The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.
The colours are as follows:
- Green = Islam
- Red = Christianity
- Purple = Unaffiliated
- Pink = Folk/Other
- Yellow = Buddhist
- Brown = Hindu
- Grey = No Change
It’s important to note that the map shows which religion will have the largest relative, not absolute, increase between 2010 and 2050.
So for example, Folk and other regions are expected to grow from 0.8% of the US total in 2010 to 2.0% (150% increase) in 2050, while Christianity is expected to fall from 78.3% to 66.4% (15% decrease) in the same time period.
However, the total size of the Christian population of the US will still increase from around 243 million today to 261 million (18 million more) in 2050, while folk and other religions will increase from 2.5 million to 7.9 million (5.4 million more) in the same time period.
In relative terms Islam is doing well, becoming the fastest growing religion in both China and India (the world’s two most populous countries) and Russia and Canada (the world’s two largest countries by area). However, despite anti-immigrant feelings in the UK or France it’s not the fastest growing religion in either country.
Christianity is growing fastest in a few interesting place such as the predominantly Muslim countries of Turkey and Indonesia.
Unaffiliated groups are growing fastest in some of the more Catholic countries around the world in South America, Mexico and Poland along with several countries in Africa.
Folk/Other religions are doing well in the United States, UK, France, Brazil and many other countries.
Buddhism seems to be growing fastest in the Scandinavian countries (plus Austria and the Netherlands), far from its base in Asia.
Hindus are growing quickly in an interesting mix of countries from Muslim Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to Catholic Italy, Ireland and Belgium.
Here’s how PEW defined each group:
There are two major branches of Islam – Sunni and Shia. As of 2010, it was estimated that the overwhelming majority (87-90%) of Muslims were Sunnis; about 10-13% were Shia Muslims. However, with little data on population differences among Muslim subgroups around the world, this report does not project the future size of Sunni and Shia populations.
This analysis looks at Christians as a single religious group and does not project changes
among Christian subgroups.
Note: the report includes Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox as Christians along with Mormons, Christian Scientists and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The religiously unaffiliated population includes atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion. However, many of the religiously unaffiliated do hold some religious or spiritual beliefs.
Folk religions are closely tied to a particular people, ethnicity or tribe. In some cases, elements of other world religions are blended with local beliefs and customs. These faiths often have no formal creeds or sacred texts. Examples of folk religions include African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions.
“Other religions” is a residual category composed of groups not classified elsewhere. This very diverse category includes followers of religions that often are not measured separately in censuses and surveys: the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca, Zoroastrianism and many other religions. Because of a lack of data on these faiths in many countries, the individual religions within this category are not projected separately. Rather, they are combined and treated as a whole. This means the growth trajectories of specific religions in this category could vary greatly.
The three major branches of Buddhism in the modern world are Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and Vajrayana (sometimes described as Tibetan) Buddhism. […] The Buddhist population figures in this study also include members of other groups that identify as Buddhist, such as Soka Gakkai and Hoa Hao.
Major traditions within Hinduism include Vaishnavism, which is devoted to worship of the god Vishnu, and Shaivism, organized around worship of the god Shiva. Because of a lack of census or survey data on subgroups of Hindus in most countries, however, reliable estimates of the global size of various Hindu traditions are not available.
You can see data for each country in the full report here.
For the current state of the world’s religions check out: Incredibly Detailed Maps Of The World’s Religions
Want to learn more about world religions? Have a look at the following books:
- World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained
- The Illustrated World’s Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions
- Man’s Search for Meaning
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