Friday, 9 October 2009

Mapping the Global Muslim Population

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has this month published its report "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population". A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries, it found that:
  • That there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23% of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion and meaning that nearly one in four people practise Islam.

  • The top five Muslim countries in the world include only one in the Middle East ‑ Egypt ‑ behind Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, in that order. Russia, the survey shows, has more Muslims than the populations of Libya and Jordan combined. Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon. China has a bigger Muslim population than Syria.

  • Of the total Muslim population, 10-13% are Shia Muslims and 87-90% are Sunni Muslims. Most Shias (between 68% and 80%) live in just four countries: Iran, Pakistan, India and Iraq.

  • Extrapolating the figures from the survey, the Islam that is largely practised around the world, particularly in large swaths of Asia, is more moderate and integrated than its stereotypical characterisation as an often militant and intolerant faith.

  • Significantly, one in five of Muslims now lives in a country where they are represented as a religious minority, with three-quarters of that number concentrated in five countries: India (161 million), Ethiopia (28 million), China (22 million), Russia (16 million) and Tanzania (13 million).
The report states that it offers the most up-to-date and fully sourced estimates of the size and distribution of the worldwide Muslim population, including sectarian identity. You can read the full report here.

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