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Way In

It all adds up

Numbers aren't everything, but they are something, and they can make interesting reading. The Pew Forum in Washington DC has published a vast piece of research into the present demographics of religions across the world.

Analysing 2500 censuses, surveys, etc., they sensibly ignored theological questions and looked at which religion people consider themselves to belong to.

Christians form the largest group, with 32% of the human race (2.2 billion) followed by Muslims with 23%. The third largest group is those with no religion, who make up 16% of the world at 1.1 billion people - 63% of whom live in China. The writers of the report note that these  people are not necessarily atheists, just people who don't identify with a religious group.

Geographically, Christianity is also the religion most evenly spread across the earth, while both Hindusim and Buddhism get 99% of their following from the Asia-Pacific region.

Eighty-seven percent of Christians live in countries where they form the majority, a comfort surpassed only by Hindus, 97% of whom are in that position. For both Muslims and the unaffiliated that figure is a little under three-quarters. More than half of all Jews are in a  religious minority where they live, 59%, but that figure is exceeded by Buddhists. 72% of them live in places where they are minorities.

See www.pewforum.org.