World Facts

The Major Religions of Asia

Islam and religious unaffiliation represent the largest groups in Asia.

Asia is the largest continent in the world and the birthplace of numerous religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism among others. All these religions are practiced in Asia with multiple forms of religions continually emerging. Hinduism and Islam represent the largest religious group in Asia with over a billion followers.

3 Major Religions in Asia

Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the oldest and largest religions in Asia with over a billion followers. Over 25% of the people living in Asia are followers of Hinduism. It is subdivided into numerous denominations with the key ones being Shaktism, Smartism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism. Hinduism predates all recorded history and is believed to have begun during the Indus Valley Civilization era. Hinduism does not have a single founder. Instead, it is a blend of lineages, practices, and traditions which have been practiced for centuries. Various significant religions like Sikhism and Jainism can trace their origin from Hinduism. It is the main religion in Bali (83.5%), Nepal (81%), and India (80%) with strong minorities in various Asian states like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bhutan.

Islam

Islam is the most prominent religion in Asia with over 1.1 billion followers. It is an Abraham religion whose followers adhere to the teachings of Mohammad (God’s last prophet). These teachings are articulated in the Qur’an. Southeast Asia and South Asia are home to some of the most populous Islamic nations like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia with each having over a hundred million Muslims. In central Asia; Uzbekistan and Afghanistan are the two countries with the largest Muslim population, while the non-Arab nations of Turkey and Iran have the highest number of Muslims in Western Asia. Some of the 23 major Muslim countries in Asia include Lebanon, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, and Qatar among others. Bangladesh is 90% Muslim, Pakistan is 97% Muslim, and Indonesia which has the largest Muslim population is only 87% Muslim.

Buddhism

Buddhism is the third largest group in Asia which is practiced by about 11.9% of people in Asia. It is the fourth largest religion in the world with over 520 million followers which are about 7% of the global population. Siddartha Gautama (also called Buddha) is the founder of Buddhism. Before the rise of Islamic, it was the most widely practiced religions in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. The largest Buddhism population resides in South Korea (22.9%), Hong Kong (15%), Singapore (33%), Vietnam (10%), Nepal (10.7%), Taiwan (35%), Japan (36.2%), and China (18.2%). Buddhism is dominant in numerous states including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Laos, Tibet, Burma and Bhutan among other places.

Other Religions in Asia

About 21% of the people living in Asia are unaffiliated, which means that one in every five individuals do not associate with any religion while one in every ten people are Buddhists. 9% of the people in Asia follow folk religions like Australian aboriginal and Chinese folk religions. Approximately 1% of the people in Asia are Christians while other minor religions make up less than 1% of the population.

The Major Religions of Asia

RankReligionPopulation (%)
1Hinduism25.3
2Islam24.3
3Unaffiliated21.2
4Buddhists11.9
5Folk Religions9.0
6Christian7.1
7Other 1.3

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