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The World Today, by Continent, Beliefs, and Language

After some 6000 years of civilized human history, the world today is divided into roughly 200 states. The United Nations officially recognizes 193 member states (with 2 more “observer states” and 6 which are “partially recognized”).

By continent, Europe has 47 states, Africa has 52, and Asia has 48. In the Americas, North and Central America have 26 states, while South America has 13. Oceania (which includes Australia and the Pacific Ocean nations) has 14.

Approximately 70 states have a Christian majority today, of which 14 nations have Christianity as a state religion. Christianity remains the world’s largest religion, with some 2.4 billion followers. However, this number is likely not very accurate, since many in the Western world may have been born Christian, but no longer practice any form of the religion, and may identify as atheists. For example, a 2014 Pew study found that nearly 23% of people in the United States report being religiously unaffiliated, even though the US is still considered the nation with the largest Christian population in the world.Muslim Populations Pew Research

Meanwhile, 49 states are currently Muslim-majority nations, with 1.2 billion Muslims living in these countries, and another half a billion living in other non-Muslim majority states. The Pew Research Center predicts that by 2050, Islam may be the world’s most populous religion, and by then, Nigeria will become the 50th Muslim-majority state.

Non-religious population of the world, by percentage, based on 2006 Dentsu Institute data and 2005 Zuckerman data
Non-religious population of the world, by percentage, based on 2006 Dentsu Institute data and 2005 Zuckerman data

Three countries have Hindu majorities (Nepal, India, and Mauritius), seven have Buddhist majorities (led by Cambodia), and only one has a Jewish majority (Israel). Approximately 10 states have an atheist or agnostic majority, led by Estonia, Japan, and Denmark.

By far, the most-commonly spoken language in the world is Mandarin, with nearly a billion speakers. Spanish is a distant second with roughly 400 million speakers, followed by English, with 360 million speakers. Filling the top ten, by millions of speakers, are: Hindi (310), Arabic (295), Portuguese (205), Bengali (200), Russian (160), Japanese (125), and Punjabi (100).

Despite all of this phenomenal diversity, pretty much everyone agrees that all of us came from the same source: whether it is Adam and Eve, as in the Abrahamic religions, or “Y-chromosomal Adam” and “mitochondrial Eve”, the genetic ancestors of all human beings, estimated by scientists to have lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.

Ultimately, all of the Earth’s inhabitants are part of one, massive, dysfunctional family.

by garofanomarcio
by garofanomarcio


2011 Pew Study on Christianity

2014 Pew Study on America’s Changing Religious Landscape

2015 Pew Study on Islam

List of religions by country (Wikipedia)

List of countries by continent (Wikipedia)

Language statistics from the 2010 Nationalencyklopedin

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