George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Christians by Numbers Around the World
Report Sees Shift in Global Distribution
ROME, DEC. 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Christians account for almost a third
world's population. This was one of the findings in a report published
by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The data from the 2010 survey of more than 200 countries found that
there are 2.18 billion Christians, nearly a third of the estimated
population at that time of 6.9 billion.
The report looked at what has changed in the past century. Since 1910
number of Christians nearly quadrupled, from about 600 million to more
billion. In that time, however, world population rose sharply, from
billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion. So, the percentage of Christians dipped
going from 35% to 32%.
Christians, nevertheless, remain the world's largest religious group.
according to previous studies by the Pew group, account for a bit under
quarter of the world's population.
The survey found that almost half, 48%, of Christians live in the 10
with the largest number of Christians. Three of the top 10 countries
are in the
Americas -- the United States, Brazil and Mexico. Two are in Europe --
and Germany. Two are in the Asia-Pacific region -- the Philippines and
And three are in sub-Saharan Africa -- Nigeria, Democratic Republic of
Congo and Ethiopia.
In spite of so many being in a small number of countries, Christians
a majority of the population in 158 countries and territories, about
of all the countries and territories in the world.
The spread of countries reflects a major shift in where Christians are
found. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world's Christians lived in
century later only 26% of Christians live in Europe. More than a third
found in the Americas, 37%. While just under a quarter, 24%, live in
sub-Saharan Africa. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 13%.
Taking Europe and the Americas together these two still make up a
Christians, with 63%. That is, however, a notable decline from the 1910
of 93%. In both regions the numbers of Christians have dropped. In
1910, 95% of
Europe's population was Christian, but by 2010 it was only 76%. In the
over the same period it went from 96% to 86%.
This decline contrasts with the dramatic change in sub-Saharan Africa.
only 9% were Christians, but a century later the Christian faith had
making up 63% of the population.
While the overall numbers in Asia and the Pacific are still low, the
more than doubled, from 3% to 7%.
The Middle East and North Africa are the regions with the lowest number
Christians. They account for only about 4% of the population, or around
In fact, the report pointed out, there are more Christians in
has a Muslim majority, than there are in all the 20 countries in the
East and North Africa.
And the changes in Africa mean that Nigeria now has more than twice as
Protestants as Germany, where the Protestant Reformation originated.
There are 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide, according to the report.
they account for half of the global Christian population.
Brazil is the country with the largest number of Catholics, at 134
This means there are more Catholics in Brazil than in Italy, France and
Catholics are a majority of the population in 67 countries. The
accounts for 48% of the global number, with almost 40% in Latin America
Europe comes second with 24% of the world's Catholics, while
makes up 16% and the Asia-Pacific region has 12%.
The broad definition of Protestants the report uses means they number
million worldwide, or 37% of the global Christian population.
a majority of the total population in 49 countries.
Despite the European origins of the Protestant churches the survey
only two of the 10 countries with the largest Protestant populations
The country with the largest number of Protestants is the United
about 160 million, making up 20% of the worldwide total. Nigeria comes
with nearly 60 million Protestants, and China is in third place with
approximately 58 million.
China, in fact, has the world's seventh-largest Christian population,
report estimated at 67 million. The report acknowledged the difficulty
obtaining reliable data on religion in China, but according to its
Asia only the Philippines, with 87 million, has more Christians.
There are about 260 million Orthodox Christians, the study found, which
accounts for 12% of the global Christian population.
Russia is home to the largest group of Orthodox with 39% of them.
the second-largest population, 13.4% of the global number. While
is the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Turkey's Orthodox
small, at about 180,000. Despite Ethiopia's large numbers Europe
center of Orthodox Christianity, with 77% of the global numbers.
The report gives a more precise idea of what observers have been
in recent years regarding the shift of Christianity to the Global
rapid growth of Christians in Africa and China will likely continue,
significant implications for Christianity.
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