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Buddhism - Size & Distribution of the Religion

Updated on July 11, 2017
sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

Sunilkunnoth loves spiritual sojourns and makes frequent travels to the pilgrimage centres across India.

Lord Buddha
Lord Buddha | Source

'The Global Religion Landscape', a report published in 2012 by 'Pew Research Center' presented a very informative account on the size and distribution of the world's major religions as of 2010. Their research helps us to find and extract some vital statistics on the size of Buddhism too, the 4th largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.


Their methodology of the Global Census was very scientific and almost accurate. I have briefed how they did this Herculean task in my previous hub titled "The Global Religious Census-2010". It would be fine if you pay a glance to that report. Please click on the word "CENSUS" to read the same.


Well, as already stated Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the wolrd. There are about 488 Million Buddhists around the world. They represent 7% of the world's total population as of 2010. For your easy comprehension of a complex data, I present below further features of the religion in bullet (point) format. This method is easy to read and grasp quickly.

  • There are 3 major branches of Buddhism- Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism.
  • Vajrayana is sometimes described as Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Mahayana Buddhism is the largest one as it is prevalent in many countries with very large population, particularly in China, Japan, South Korea & Vietnam.
  • Theravada, the 2nd largest branch is concentrated in Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Laos & Cambodia.
  • Vajrayana, the smallest is concentrated in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Mongolia.
  • The religion started in Asia.
  • Nearly 99% of Buddhists live in Asia-Pacific region.
  • North America (3.9 Million) and Europe (1.3 Million) have more than 1 Million Buddhists.
  • Though 99% of Buddhists live in Asia and the Pacific, their share is only 12% of the total population of the region.
  • About 1% of North Americans are Buddhists.
  • All 10 countries with highest Buddhist population are in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • 95% of the Buddhists live in 10 countries.
  • 50% of the total Buddhist population live in one country-China.
  • After China, the largest Buddhist concentration is in Thailand (13%), Japan (9%), Burma (Myanmar) ((8%), Sri Lanka (4%), South Korea (2%), India (2%) and Malaysia (1%).
  • Seven countries have Buddhist majorities. These are Cambodia, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos and Mongolia.


To sum up our Buddha story, we need to study and analyse the statistics on Buddhist population in ten countries, where 95% of them live. Out of the 487,540,000 Buddhists, 460.620,000 are living in these countries. A number of 26,920,000 or 5.5% of the Buddhists live outside these ten countries.


The The Ten Countries with Largest Buddhist Population

(click column header to sort results)
Country  
Estimated 2010 Buddhist Population  
% of Population that is Buddhist  
% of World Buddhist Population  
China
244,130.000
18.2%
50.1%
Thailand
64,420,000
93.2
13.2
Japan
45,820,000
36.2
9.4
Burma (Myanmar)
38.410,000
80.1
7.9
Sri Lanka
14,450,000
69.3
3.0
Vietnam
14,380.000
16.4
2.0
Cambodia
13,690.000
96.9
2.8
South Korea
11,050,000
22.9
2.3
India
9,250,000
0.8
1.9
Malaysia
5,010,000
17.7
1.0
Sub total for 10 Countries
460,620,000
15.3
94.5
Sub total for Rest of World
26,920,000
0.7
5.5
World Total
487,540,000
7.1
100.00
India has got a Buddhist population of 9.25 Million

© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth

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    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Thanks for your visit and comments Singhji

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Quite fascinating

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi Rajan Jolly,

      Thanks for your visit and comments.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi Eiddwen,

      Happy to note your comments. Thanks for your visit and nice comments.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi DDE

      Thanks for your visit and comments.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      5 years ago from Wales

      So very interesting indeed and thank you for sharing.

      Eddy.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A fascinating input on Buddhism, most informative and another good way of learning more about other beliefs or religions

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi Buddhaanalysis.

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge and voting up.

    • profile image

      buddhaanalysis 

      5 years ago

      Population of Buddhist in India increasing by conversion but birth rate of them is controlled due to awareness.

      Nice hub, voted up.

      Thanks.

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      5 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      Hi Rajan Jolly,

      Thanks for your visit and nice comments.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Interesting info, Sunil. Thanks for sharing.

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