Italy is among Europe’s most developed countries covering an estimated area of 116,347 square miles. Italy shares its borders with Austria, France, San Marino Vatican City, and Slovenia. It is the third most populous country in Europe with a population of 61 million. Po Valley is the most populated area in Italy accounting for over 50% of the total population. while Sardinia Island and the Basilicata Plateau are the least populated areas. Italy has no state-recognized or official religion – however, the Catholic Church plays a significant role in society. Some of the common religions in Italy include Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Judaism.
Major Religions In Italy
71.4% of Italians ascribe to Christianity making it the dominant religion in the country with Catholicism being the majority Christian denomination. Other Christian denominations include Orthodox, Jehovah’s Witness, Protestant, and Methodists. The Catholic Church accounts for 93% of all Christians in Italy. Vatican City, which is the headquarters of over one billion Catholics worldwide, is within the territory of Italy and has a massive influence on the growth of Catholic Church in Italy. Most of the Catholic religious orders have their offices in Italy, specifically Rome. These orders include Benedictines, Jesuits, Dominicans, Redemptorists, Silesians, Franciscans, and Divine Word Missionaries. Italy is divided into 225 Dioceses headed by bishops. Apart from the Catholic Church, there are other native churches, and these are Italo-Albanian Catholic Church and Waldensian Evangelical Church which originated from Lyon in France forming a Calvinist denomination. Some of the Protestant churches in Italy include Baptist Evangelical Christian Union of Italy, Lutheran Evangelical Church, Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church in Italy.
Islam does not command a huge following as Christianity in Italy and is not recognized by the state. Only 3.1% of the population in Italy confesses Islam faith. Islam is thought to have been brought into Italy when the Abbasid Caliphate took control of Sicily in the 9th Century. The Norman Conquest led to the conversion of Muslims leading to their decline in Italy. In the 20th Century, Somali Immigrants started arriving in Italy, and the immigration has continued to date. Muslims have had issues with the presence of Crucifix in public places demanding their removal.
Buddhists in Italy account for only 0.4% of the total population. Buddhism in Italy can be traced back to 1960s when Buddhists Italian Association was founded. In 1985 Italian Buddhist was formed in Milan with the president recognizing the union in 1991. The agreement between the IBU and the Italian government was signed in 2007 by the Italian constitution while the agreement became law in 2012.
Other Religions in Italy
Only 0.6% of the Italian population ascribe to other religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, and Judaism while the rest of the population either ascribe to other faiths or are not affiliated with any religion. With the current rate of immigration, Italy will experience an increase in the number of Muslims coming into the country. Other religions such as Orthodox Christianity are already establishing themselves in the country. Jehovah’s Witnesses, another Christian sect, are also relative newcomers to Italy, and a denomination that is quickly rising there with a popular following of 420,000. Christian immigrants are also pushing up the number of Christians in Italy.