Religion in Asia and Future Projections

Asia, the cradle of diverse and influential religions that have shaped civilizations, holds a rich tapestry of spiritual traditions. From the ancient roots of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism in India to the birthplaces of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the Middle East, Asia has been a fountainhead of profound beliefs. The continent also hosts the origins of Confucianism, Daoism, Shamanism, and Shintō, contributing to its cultural mosaic.

In the spiritual landscape of Asia, Islam takes center stage as the most widely practiced religion, with Hinduism claiming the second spot. Following closely is the unaffiliated population, embodying a spectrum of beliefs. Buddhism, Folk Religions, and Christianity also thrive in this diverse tapestry of faith. Beyond these major religions, Asia is home to smaller yet significant communities of Baha’is, Jains, Sikhs, Taoists, Jews, and various other faiths, collectively enriching the spiritual fabric of the continent.

also read about Top Countries in Asia by Population

As of 2020, Islam stands as the predominant religion in Asia, boasting a sizable 1.29 billion adherents, constituting nearly a third (28.32%) of the extensive population of 4.56 billion across the continent. Following closely is Hinduism, with 1.15 billion adherents, representing 25.28% of the Asian demographic.

The unaffiliated population in Asia accounts for around 880 million individuals, making up 19.29% of the total population. Buddhism secures the fourth position, with 498 million adherents, encompassing 10.93% of the Asian populace, closely trailed by Folk Religions, with 380 million adherents or 8.35% of the population. This category includes followers of traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, and Native and aboriginal belief systems.

The Christian population in Asia stands at approximately 298 million, constituting 6.53% of the Asian population. Jews form a smaller demographic, numbering 6.4 million, which is less than 1 percent of the overall population. The combined adherents of various smaller religions, including Baha’is, Jains, Sikhs, Taoists, and other minor faiths, total around 53 million or 1.16% of the Asia population.

Let’s look at the Asia population by adherents

ReligionEstimated Pop. 2020
Folk Religions380,760,000
Other Religions53,080,000

Religion in Asia by Percentage

ReligionPercentage 2020
Folk Religions8.35%
Other Religions1.16%

Source: Pew Research Center

Future Projection

As of 2010, Hindus were the largest religious group in the Asia-Pacific region, numbering about 1 billion. However, by 2050, Muslims are projected to surpass Hindus, reaching nearly 1.5 billion. The religiously unaffiliated population is expected to decrease from 860 million to 838 million. While the Asia-Pacific region will remain the home to the majority of Buddhists worldwide, their number is projected to drop from 481 million in 2010 to 476 million in 2050. Meanwhile, the Christian population in the region is anticipated to grow by 33%, from 287 million in 2010 to 381 million in 2050.

In 2050, Muslims are projected to make up almost 30% of the region’s population (up from 24% in 2010), Hindus are expected to increase to nearly 28%, and Christians to nearly 8%. The decline in the share of the population with no religious affiliation is forecasted from 21% in 2010 to 17% in 2050. Similarly, the Buddhist share is expected to drop from nearly 12% to less than 10%, and the proportion of the population practicing folk religions is anticipated to decline from 9% to about 7%. These trends are influenced by factors such as age, fertility rates, and demographic shifts.

Religion Est. Pop. 2050 Percentage
Muslims 1,457,720,000 29.5%
Hindus 1,369,600,000 27.7%
Unaffiliated 837,790,000 17%
Buddhists 475,840,000 9.6%
Folk Religions 366,860,000 7.4%
Christians 381,200,000 7.7%
Other Religions 48,650,000 1%

Source: Pew Research Center

Top Asian Countries by Muslim Population

Indonesia is the country with the Largest Muslim population in the world and Asia also. With a 200+ million Muslim population, India is in second place closely followed by Pakistan. Let’s have at Top 10 countries in Asia by the Muslim population. 

RankCountryEst Muslim Pop 2020
10Saudi Arabia30,690,000

Source: Pew Research Center

Top Asian Countries by Hindu Population

India is the country with the largest Hindu population in the world and Asia also. With a 28 million Hindu population, Nepal is in second place followed by Bangladesh. Percentage-wise Nepal has the highest percentage of Hindus in the world.

Let’s have at Top 10 countries in Asia by the Hindu population. 

#CountryHindus Pop. 2020
6Sri Lanka3,090,000
8Burma (Myanmar)890,000
9United Arab Emirates660,000
10Saudi Arabia440,000

Source: Pew Research Center

Top Asian Countries by Buddhist Population

China is the country with the Largest Buddhist population in the world and Asia also. With a 66 million Buddhist population, Thailand is in second place followed by Myanmar.

Let’s have at Top 10 countries in Asia by the Buddhist population. 

#CountryBuddhist Pop 2020
7Sri Lanka15,440,000
8South Korea10,950,000

Source: Pew Research Center

Top Asian Countries by Christain Population

Philippines with a 100 million Christain population is the country with the Largest Christian population in Asia. With 72 million Christians China is in second place followed by India.

Let’s have at Top 10 countries in Asia by the Christian population. 

#CountryChristian Population 2020
5South Korea15,000,000
8Burma (Myanmar)4,040,000

Source: Pew Research Center

Asia Population by Religion 2024 | Asia Religion percentage