The world isn’t as religiously diverse as people may think. Although there are thousands of religions worldwide, nearly all of the world population believes in one of 12 main religions. Take a look at this graphic:
This graphic is very simple, and it displays countries that have higher levels of religious diversity in darker shades of blue. Many countries on this map may be labeled a different level of religious diversity than what is expected or predicted. Most notably, countries like the U.S and India are only moderately diverse. This is odd for the U.S since there has been so much immigration into the country ever since the end of World War 2. India like China, may be thought of very religiously diverse since the population is so huge, and there are so many different dialects of Language in the country. Even Australia is more religiously diverse than the U.S which is shocking since the population size is so much smaller compared to the U.S and India. One important thing to consider when looking at the graphic above is that the data was taken from 2010, so it may not be exactly accurate to the current state of the world.
To more accurately understand this graphic is important to look at some more specific charts which display religious diversity in more detail. Take a look at this great graph which shows important statistics:
This graph is mostly what people would expect to see when they think of religious diversity. The Asia-Pacific region is the most religiously diverse, which most people know, and these statistics may be the cause of the stereotype that India is just as religiously diverse as China; they are both in the Asia-Pacific region. What’s fascinating about the Asia-Pacific is that they have the highest percentage of people being unaffiliated despite their religious diversity being high.
The Sub-Saharan is highly religiously diverse, but not how people may think. As shown by the graph, 93% of people in the Sub-Saharan are Christian or Muslim, two of the rest of the world’s major religions. This goes to show the effect of colonization of the African countries if anything. Instead of having a majority of African countries believing in their own native religions, they were essentially converted by the countries that colonized their regions, to religions such as Christianity.
It isn’t surprising that Europe and the North America are moderately religiously diverse, however it is fascinating that nearly the entire population on both continents is either Christian or Unaffiliated. The high unaffiliated population is both area can best be explained by the growing ideas of science which counteract many religious beliefs in both areas. Also, in North America and Europe the countries are fine with any religious beliefs that people may have, in contrast with the Middle-east.
The Middle East/ North Africa, and Latin America/Caribbean are both not religiously diverse. The main difference is that Latin America doesn’t discriminate against other religions as much as the Middle East does. This is partly because there is a majority Muslim population, and Islam is less supportive of other religions compared to Christianity. Also, in the past, the Islamic Empires gave people bonuses if they became Muslim, such as lower taxes. This is a large reason why Islam spread so quickly throughout the area that the Islamic Empire controlled, since it gave people an economic incentive to choosing Islam. Because Islam became so attractive due to this, nearly all the population converted, explaining the high percentage of Muslims in the Middle East. Check out “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris if you are fascinated about why Islam is this way.