Christianity is said to be the largest religion in the world. As of 2010, 2.2 billion people were reported to be following Christianity according to the Pew Research Center. This is nearly a third, or 31% of the 6.9 billion people on earth, that adhere to Christianity. Broadly speaking, nations in which Christianity is most dominant are the United States, followed by Brazil and Mexico.
Christians are so widely scattered across the globe as noted by our map. Going by this definition, Christianity is a global faith.
Originating in Jerusalem, presently in Israel, Christianity spread throughout the world. This was a result of many factors, the most important being missionaries and colonization.
Christians across the world are divided into three major groups, the Catholic Church, Protestantism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life came out with a study on ‘Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population.’ It maps the dominance of Christianity across the world by charting out two types of categories, based on what kind of division one chooses to look at the world.
The first one is:
- The South – There is a noted increase in the number of Christians in the developing countries of what is called the ‘South.’ This includes Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It was once a fact that Christianity is most widespread in the ‘North,’ such as the North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. This ‘North’ constituted more than four times as many Christians than the rest of the world. However, there was a momentous shift. The study reveals that more than 1.3 billion Christians live in the South (61%), compared with about 860 million in the North (39%).
- The North – Despite the shift where in the Christians are more widespread in the South, the North has far more concentration of Christians. They form almost 69% of the population in the North compared to 24% of the South.
The second category looks at the distribution of Christianity according to region:
- The Americas – Numerically, the vast majority of Christians are no longer in Europe. Rather they are in the Americas. This region has the most number of Christians, both in terms of numbers and proportion. About 37% of Christians in the world live in the Americas, where approximately nine out of ten people are Christians, that is about 86%. The United States, Brazil, and Mexico, together, these three countries alone make up for 24% of Christians in the world.
Europe accounts for 26% of the Christian population, while Sub Saharan Africa accounts for 24%. Here, it must be added that the percentage of Christian population in the Americas has gone down from 96% in 1910, to 86% in 2011. But it still houses the higher share of the world’s Christians, increasing to 37% from 27% in 1910.
- Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific – These two regions put together account for 800 million Christians. Further, the top ten countries with the highest number of Christians, come from Africa or Asia Pacific. These are Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia (from Africa), and Philippines and China (from Asia). There has been a massive increase in the Christian population in the Sub-Saharan Africa from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010. While in Asia-Pacific, the numbers grew from 3% to 7%.
Apart from these, another way of finding those parts of the world where Christianity is dominant is looking at these 15 countries with Christianity as the State religion:
Argentina (Roman Catholic Church)
Armenia (Armenian Apostolic Church)
Tuvalu(Church of Tuvalu)
Tonga (Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga)
Costa Rica (Roman Catholic Church)
Kingdom of Denmark (Danish National Church)
England (Church of England)
Greece (Eastern Orthodox Church),
Georgia (Eastern Orthodox Church)
Iceland (Church of Iceland)
Liechtenstein (Catholic Church)
Monaco (Catholic Church)
Vatican City (Catholic Church)
Note: The United States does not have an ‘official religion.’
Research predicts, that the coming decades will see a decline in the rise of Christianity as the world’s largest religion (2010 Data), and a shift to Islam. Islam is projected to grow by 73% while Christianity by 35% resulting in 2.8 billion Muslims and 2.9 billion Christians worldwide by 2050.