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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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%).
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 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.
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 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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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked the largest European refugee crisis since WWII. See where refugees are fleeing to on this map.
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The world has seen several refugee crises over the last decade, from conflicts in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. However, over the last few months, another migrant crisis has emerged, and once again Europe has been the focus.
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. Since then, millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes in search of refuge, with a majority heading through neighboring countries like Poland, Romania, and Russia.
This map by Elbie Bentley uses immigration data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as of May 24th, 2022 to visualize current migration crisis that’s happening across Europe. It shows where Ukrainian refugees crossed borders as they fled the conflict.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, close to 6.6 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. Put another way, this is the largest refugee crisis in Europe since WWII.
Data above is from Feb 24 to May 24, 2022. The situation is fluid, and we recommend visiting the data source linked above for the latest data.
Though the UNHCR tracks departures individually, it’s important to note that arrivals can include people who’ve crossed multiple borders after leaving Ukraine. For example, a refugee heading to Romania via Moldova may be counted twice in the dataset. For this reason, adding the individual country totals together results in a number higher than 6.6 million.
Poland has seen the highest number of Ukrainian refugees, with an estimated 3.5 million people crossing the border since February 24th. About a million of those refugees have been registered in Poland, and 94% of those registered refugees have been women and children.
Russia has received the third most refugees, with many of them coming from or near separatist regions in the east of Ukraine. Russia also says it helped evacuate 140,000 civilians from Mariupol, but claims that those populations were not forced to migrate to Russia.
Hungary has seen the fourth-largest influx of refugees, seeing 644,474 Ukrainians cross into the country since the start of the conflict. In recent years, the Hungarian government been in the headlines because of its views towards migrants, including in 2018, when Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made controversial comments about Syrian refugees.
While the above countries are the entry points for refugees, it’s worth noting that many migrants ultimately make their way to many other places throughout Europe and the world. For example, Germany has accepted 780,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war, despite not sharing a border directly with Ukraine.
While many Ukrainians had fled the country, millions more have been displaced or trapped within.
As of the end of May, approximately 8 million Ukrainians have been forced to relocate, while approximately 13 million are either stranded in areas affected by the conflict or trapped because of things like increased security or infrastructure damage.
Ukraine and Russia are reeling from the war and its impact, and a ripple effect is hitting countries dependent on Ukrainian trade for agricultural and industrial goods and Russian oil and gas. Add the migrant crisis to the mix, and the total consequences will be felt for decades throughout the region.
This series of visualizations uses Google trends search data to show the most googled countries around the world, from 2004 to 2022.
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View a higher resolution version of this network diagram.
Analyzing societal trends can teach us a lot about a population’s cultural fabric.
And since Google makes up more than 90% of internet searches outside of the Great Firewall, studying its usage is one of the best resources for modern social research.
This series of visualizations by Anders Sundell uses Google Trends search data to show the most googled countries around the world, from 2004 to 2022. These graphics provide thought-provoking insight into different cultural similarities and geopolitical dynamics.
The visualization above shows the most googled country in each nation around the world over the last couple of decades.
For example, the arrow pointing from Canada to the United States means that, between 2004 and 2022, people in Canada had more searches about the U.S. than any other country globally.
And since this study only looked at interest in other countries, queries of countries searching for themselves were not included in the data.
Finally, each country’s circle is scaled relative to its search interest, meaning the bigger the circle, the more countries pointing to it (and searching for it).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the U.S. is the most googled country on the list, ranking first place in 45 of the 190 countries included in the dataset.
While it’s the top googled country in neighboring places like Canada and Mexico, it’s also number one in countries much farther away like Nigeria, Sweden, and Australia.
The U.S. is currently the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP, and one of the biggest cultural influences globally. However, it’s worth noting that China, the world’s second-largest economy and the most populated, had very little search interest in comparison, at least based on Google Trends data.
In addition to the network map highlighting the overall top googled countries, Sundell created a series of videos breaking down the data monthly, by regions. Here are the videos for the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
Since 2004, there have been a high number of searches for Canada, Mexico and India in America.

The searches for Mexico seem to be concentrated in the Western U.S., which is also where a large portion of the country’s Hispanic population lives. In contrast, searches for India seem to come mostly from the eastern side of the country.
The U.S. is by the far the most commonly googled country across Europe, ranking number one consistently over the last two decades.

However, Russia stole the limelight in 2014, the year that they invaded and ultimately annexed Crimea.
In the early 2000s, the U.S. held the top googled spot in Asia, but over time, relative searches for the U.S. go down. India stole the top spot to become the most googled country in Asia for a majority of the 2010s.

One anomaly occurred when Japan briefly took the top spot in March 2011, which is when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the northern coast of Japan, causing a devastating tsunami.
What will future search results reveal about the global landscape? Were any of the results surprising?
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