No surprises here—Africa is the most religious continent; but new friend China isn't

With African incomes on the rise, it will also be interesting to keep an eye on regional trends.

MORE than eight out of 10 people (86%) of Africans describe themselves as religious, the most of any region in the world, a new poll shows.

Morocco was the most religious African country, with 93% saying they were religious, while 91% of South Africans described themselves the same way.

China is the least religious country, with 61% saying they were atheists. This was twice the amount of convinced atheists, with the next most being Hong Kong where 34% describing themselves as atheists. Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%) and Spain (20%) were the next highest.

The survey by WIN/Gallup International polled 63,898 people in 65 countries globally.

The pollsters, perhaps surprisingly, found that younger people under 34 tend to be more religious, with 66% describing themselves as such, compared to 60% for other groups.

Also, the higher the income, the more likely (less than 50%) people were to say they are religious, compared to 70% of those with low, medium low and medium income.

More atheists were found in medium high to high income groups. 

With African incomes on the rise, it will be interesting to keep an eye on these religious trends.

Almost one third of the world’s Muslims reside in Africa, with the religion predominant in North Africa, West Africa, the Horn and Sahel.

Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan and Morocco count the most number of Muslims on the continent.

With the Pope set to travel to Africa this year for the first time he will find a constituency in rude health. 

Africa is one of the most conservative regions and has seen the biggest growth in Catholics globally, nearly three times over the last 30 years to nearly 200 million today, the vast majority in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Pope’s subjects form nearly half of the 470 million Christians in sub-Saharan Africa, a number that has raised from 9% in 1900 to 57% in 2010, according to the Pew Research Centre. 

Given the role of British missionaries on the continent only 30% of United Kingdom citizens considered themselves religious. Less than six in 10 Americans (56%) of Americans viewed themselves as religious.

Global picture
Worldwide, 63% of people described themselves as religious, while 22% said they were not, and 11% said they were convinced atheists.

“Religion continues to dominate our everyday lives and we see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high,” Jean-Marc Leger, president of the polling firm, said.

The Swedish were the least religious in the Western world, with 78% answering positively to not religious or convinced atheists.

Just 30% of Israelis say they are religious, compared to 75% of the population in the Palestinian territories who say they are.

The researchers asked the question “irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not would you say you are: a. a religious Person, b. not a religious person, c. a convinced atheist, d. do not know/no response.

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