View the most popular religions in the world
According to some estimates, there are more than 4,000 religions, faith groups and denominations that exist today around the world. Researchers and scholars generally categorize the world’s religions into five major groups: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism.
In addition to the top five religious groups, the chart includes two additional categories: one for a collective of popular religions and another for people unaffiliated with a religion.
Religions with the most followers
Although the number of people who practice a religion has decreased in recent decades, 82.8% of the world’s population still identifies with one of the world’s major religions.
Here is a breakdown of the most popular religions, ranked by their number of followers as a percentage of the world’s population:
|Rank||Religion||% of world population|
Christianity has the largest number of followers with around 31% of the world’s population. Muslims are the second largest religious group, representing 23.2% of the world’s population.
Roughly 16.4% of the world’s population is not affiliated with a religion. This figure exceeds the percentage of people who identify with Hinduism (15%), Buddhism (7.1%), popular religions (5.9%) or Judaism (0.2%).
The religions of the world, from the oldest to the most recent
Hinduism is considered the the oldest religion in the world, originating in the Indus Valley (current Pakistan) towards 7000 BCE.
While Judaism came after Hinduism, it is believed to be the the oldest of the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, which makes it older than Christianity and Islam.
It started around 2000 BCE in the southern Levant (present-day Israel, Palestine and Jordan). In contrast, Christianity was founded in 1st century and began as a movement within Judaism.
Scholars generally date the creation of Islam to 7th century, making it the youngest of the major world religions on this list. Islam was established in Mecca (now Saudi Arabia).
One religion not on this list is Sikhism. Founded at the end 15th century, it is relatively new, especially compared to other religions such as Hinduism or Judaism. Yet despite being new, Sikhism has a large following – by some estimates there are more than 25 millions Sikhs around the world.
What are popular religions?
A folk religion is defined as an ethnic or cultural practice that exists outside the theological doctrine of organized religions.
Devoid of sacred texts, popular religions are more interested in spirituality than in rituals or rites. Examples of folk religions include Native American traditions, Chinese folk religions, and traditional African religions.
Since popular religions are less institutionalized, they are particularly difficult to measure and often excluded from surveys. That said, an estimate 5.9% of the world’s population (about 430 million people) practice a popular religion.
Fastest Growing Religions
While Islam is the newest of the five major religions, it is currently the world’s largest religion. fastest growing one too. For context, here is the estimated percentage change between the seven categories of religion, between 2015 and 2060:
|Rank||religious group||East. % change in population size (2015-2060)|
The rapid growth of Islam means it could overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion within the next half century. What causes this growth?
According to the Pew Research Center, the main reason is simply demographics – on average, Muslim women have 2.9 childrenwhose average of all non-Muslims is 2.2.
Muslims are also concentrated in Africa and the Middle East, the two regions expected to experience the largest population increases in the coming decades.