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The Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population

A complete demographic examine of greater than 200 international locations finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages all over the world, representing practically a 3rd of the estimated 2010 world inhabitants of 6.9 billion. Christians are additionally geographically widespread – so far-flung, in actual fact, that no single continent or area can indisputably declare to be the middle of worldwide Christianity.

A century in the past, this was not the case. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, the place the majority of Christians had been for a millennium, in line with historic estimates by the Heart for the Research of World Christianity.2 At the moment, solely a couple of quarter of all Christians reside in Europe (26%). A plurality – greater than a 3rd – now are within the Americas (37%). About one in each 4 Christians lives in sub-Saharan Africa (24%), and about one-in-eight is present in Asia and the Pacific (13%).

Regional Distribution of Christians

The variety of Christians all over the world has practically quadrupled within the final 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to greater than 2 billion in 2010. However the world’s general inhabitants additionally has risen quickly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to six.9 billion in 2010. Consequently, Christians make up about the identical portion of the world’s inhabitants at the moment (32%) as they did a century in the past (35%).

This obvious stability, nevertheless, masks a momentous shift. Though Europe and the Americas nonetheless are residence to a majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that share is far decrease than it was in 1910 (93%). And the proportion of Europeans and Individuals who’re Christian has dropped from 95% in 1910 to 76% in 2010 in Europe as a complete, and from 96% to 86% within the Americas as a complete.

Major Christian Traditions

On the similar time, Christianity has grown enormously in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific area, the place there have been comparatively few Christians at the start of the twentieth century. The share of the inhabitants that’s Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010, whereas within the Asia-Pacific area it rose from 3% to 7%. Christianity at the moment – in contrast to a century in the past – is really a world religion. (See world maps weighted by Christian inhabitants in 1910 and 2010.)

These are a few of the key findings of World Christianity: A Report on the Measurement and Distribution of the World’s Christian Inhabitants, a brand new examine by the Pew Analysis Heart’s Discussion board on Faith & Public Life.

The examine is predicated totally on a country-by-country evaluation of about 2,400 information sources, together with censuses and nationally consultant inhabitants surveys. For some international locations, equivalent to China, the Pew Discussion board’s estimates additionally take note of statistics from church teams, authorities experiences and different sources. (See Appendix C [PDF] for extra particulars on the vary of estimates obtainable for China.)

Christians are numerous theologically in addition to geographically, the brand new examine finds. About half are Catholic. Protestants, broadly outlined, make up 37%. Orthodox Christians comprise 12% of Christians worldwide. Different Christians, equivalent to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, make up the remaining 1% of the worldwide Christian inhabitants. (See Defining Christian Traditions.)

Taken as a complete, nevertheless, Christians are by far the world’s largest spiritual group. Muslims, the second-largest group, make up rather less than 1 / 4 of the world’s inhabitants, in line with earlier research by the Pew Discussion board.3

Virtually half (48%) of all Christians reside within the 10 international locations with the most important variety of Christians. Three of the highest 10 international locations are within the Americas (america, Brazil and Mexico). Two are in Europe (Russia and Germany), two are within the Asia-Pacific area (the Philippines and China), and three are in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia), reflecting Christianity’s world attain.

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10 countries with the largest number of christiansgc-exec-tease

Clearly, Christianity has unfold removed from its historic origins. For instance:

  • Although Christianity started within the Center East-North Africa, at the moment that area has each the   lowest focus of Christians (about 4% of the area’s inhabitants) and the smallest   variety of Christians (about 13 million) of any main geographic area.
  • Indonesia, a Muslim-majority nation, is residence to extra Christians than all 20 international locations in   the Center East-North Africa area mixed.
  • Nigeria now has greater than twice as many Protestants (broadly outlined to incorporate Anglicans   and unbiased church buildings) as Germany, the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation.
  • Brazil has greater than twice as many Catholics as Italy.
  • Though Christians comprise just below a 3rd of the world’s individuals, they kind a majority of the inhabitants in 158 international locations and territories, about two-thirds of all of the international locations and territories on the planet.
  • About 90% of Christians reside in international locations the place Christians are within the majority; solely about 10% of Christians worldwide reside as minorities.

World Distribution of Christians

So the place are the majority of the world’s Christians at the moment? The Pew Discussion board examine suggests no less than 4 potential solutions, relying on how one divides up the world:

The World South

Lately, numerous scholarly books and articles have mentioned the fast development of Christianity within the creating international locations of the “Global South” – particularly Africa, Asia and Latin America – and debated whether or not the affect of Christians within the “Global North” is waning, or not.4 A century in the past, the World North (generally outlined as North America, Europe, Australia, Japan and New Zealand) contained greater than 4 instances as many Christians because the World South (the remainder of the world).5 At the moment, the Pew Discussion board examine finds, greater than 1.3 billion Christians reside within the World South (61%), in contrast with about 860 million within the World North (39%).

The World North

However although Christians are extra quite a few within the World South, the focus of Christians is far increased within the World North, the place 69% of the inhabitants is Christian. Against this, 24% of the individuals residing within the World South are Christian. This displays the truth that the overall inhabitants of the World South is about 4.5 instances higher than the inhabitants of the World North.

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christian population by global north / global south, 1910 and 2010

One other means of trying on the distribution of Christians all over the world is by area. Numerically, no less than, Europe not dominates world Christianity the best way it did 100 years in the past. Slightly, the majority of Christians are in:

The Americas

Of the world’s 5 main geographic areas, the Americas have each the most important quantity and the best proportion of Christians. Greater than a 3rd of Christians worldwide (37%) reside within the Americas, the place practically nine-in-ten individuals (86%) are Christian. The three international locations with the most important Christian populations – america, Brazil and Mexico – are within the Americas. Collectively, these three international locations alone account for practically one in each 4 Christians on the planet (24%), about the identical proportion as the entire of Europe (26%) and all of sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Though Christians make up a smaller portion of the 2010 inhabitants within the Americas (86%) than they did in 1910 (96%), the Americas account for the next share of the world’s Christians (37%, up from 27% in 1910).6

christian population by region 1910 and 2010

Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific

However sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific area now have a mixed inhabitants of about 800 million Christians, roughly the identical because the Americas. And 5 of the highest 10 international locations with the most important Christian populations are both in Africa (Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia) or Asia (Philippines and China). Furthermore, the quickest development within the variety of Christians over the previous century has been in sub-Saharan Africa (a roughly 60-fold enhance, from fewer than 9 million in 1910 to greater than 516 million in 2010) and within the Asia-Pacific area (a roughly 10-fold enhance, from about 28 million in 1910 to greater than 285 million in 2010).

How Estimates Have been Generated

The Pew Discussion board, in session with demographers on the Worldwide Institute for Utilized Programs Evaluation (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, acquired and analyzed about 2,400 information sources, together with censuses and basic inhabitants surveys, to reach at Christian inhabitants figures for 232 international locations and self-administering territories – all of the international locations and territories for which the United Nations Inhabitants Division offers general inhabitants estimates. (See Appendix A [PDF] for a extra detailed rationalization of how the estimates have been made; see Appendix D [PDF] for an inventory of knowledge sources by nation.)

gc-exec-all-tease

In lots of international locations, nevertheless, censuses and surveys don’t include detailed info on denominational and non secular motion affiliations. Christian organizations stay in lots of instances the one supply of knowledge on the scale of worldwide actions inside Christianity (equivalent to evangelicalism and pentecostalism) and on Protestant denominational households (equivalent to Baptists and Methodists). The figures on this report on pentecostal, charismatic and evangelical Christians and on Protestant denominational households have been commissioned by the Pew Discussion board from the Heart for the Research of World Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., whose researchers generated estimates based mostly largely on figures supplied by Christian organizations all over the world. Readers ought to keep in mind that these breakdowns have been derived in a different way from the general Christian inhabitants estimates.

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christians by movement
In response to the Heart for the Research of World Christianity, there are about 279 million pentecostal Christians and 305 million charismatic Christians worldwide. (Charismatic Christians belong to non-pentecostal denominations but interact in religious practices related to pentecostalism, equivalent to talking in tongues and divine therapeutic; see Defining Christian Actions.)

As well as, greater than 285 million Christians will be labeled as evangelicals as a result of they both belong to church buildings affiliated with regional or world evangelical associations, or as a result of they establish as evangelicals. Since many pentecostals and charismatics are additionally evangelicals, these classes will not be mutually unique. (For extra particulars, see Christian Actions and Denominations.)

Footnotes:

2 Historic figures all through the manager abstract are courtesy of Todd M. Johnson of the Heart for the Research of World Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. Johnson is co-editor of the Atlas of World Christianity, Edinburgh College Press, 2009. (return to textual content)

3 As of 2010, there have been about 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, representing 23.4% of the worldwide inhabitants. For extra particulars, see the Pew Analysis Heart’s Discussion board on Faith & Public Life, The Way forward for the World Muslim Inhabitants: Projections for 2010-2030, January 2011, and Pew Analysis Heart’s Discussion board on Faith & Public Life, Mapping the World Muslim Inhabitants: A Report on the Measurement and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Inhabitants, October 2009. As famous within the preface of this report, the Pew Discussion board is steadily compiling baseline inhabitants estimates and projecting future development charges for the world’s main faiths. (return to textual content)

4 See, for instance, Philip Jenkins, The Subsequent Christendom: The Coming of World Christianity, Oxford College Press, 2002; Robert Wuthnow, Boundless Religion: The World Outreach of American Church buildings, College of California Press, 2009; and Mark A. Noll, The New Form of World Christianity: How American Expertise Displays World Religion, InterVarsity Press, 2009. (return to textual content)

5 This frequent definition of World North and World South isn’t a easy geographic division of the world into Northern and Southern hemispheres. Slightly, it takes under consideration ranges of financial growth in addition to geography. Figures for 1910 are from a Pew Discussion board evaluation of knowledge from the Heart for the Research of World Christianity. (return to textual content)

6 Figures for 1910 are from a Pew Discussion board evaluation of knowledge from the Heart for the Research of World Christianity. (return to textual content)

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