CHRISTIAN COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD
A comprehensive demographic analysis in more than 200 countries reveals that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages worldwide, representing almost a third of the total global population of 6.9 billion in 2010. Christians are also geographically widespread – so far that no single continent or region can undeniably claim to be the heart of global Christianity.
This wasn’t the case a century ago. In 1910, nearly two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, where most Christians had lived for a millennium. Today, just about a quarter of all Christians are in Europe (26%). A majority – more than a third – are now in the Americas (37%). Approximately one in four Christians live in sub-Saharan Africa (24%) and about one in eight in Asia and the Pacific (13%).
In the last century, Christians in the world have nearly quadrupled from about 600 million in 1910 to above 2 billion in 2010. But the global population has also increased rapidly, from approximately 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. Due to this, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).
This apparent stability, however, masks a dramatic shift. While Europe and America are still the homes of most Christians in the world (63 percent), this share is much smaller than it was in 1910 (93%). And the proportion of Christian population fell from 95% in 1910 to 76% in Europe as a whole in 2010 and from 96% to 86% in America as a whole.
Simultaneously, Christianity has developed exponentially in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific, where there were very few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century. The proportion of the Christian population in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010, while it increased from 3% to 7% in the Asia-Pacific region. Now, as opposed to a century ago, Christianity is a truly global religion.
According to a report, Christians are different theologically as well as geographically. Around half of them are Catholic. Protestants, broadly defined, make up 37%. Orthodox Christians make up 12 percent of the world’s Christians. Other Christians, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, make up the remaining 1 % of the world’s Christian population.
However, Christians are by far the largest religious community in the world. According to previous estimates by the Pew Forum, Muslims, the second-largest group, make up less than a quarter of the world’s population.
Nearly half (48%) of all Christians live in the ten most Christian countries. Three of the top ten countries are in America (the United States, Mexico, and Brazil). Two are in Europe (Germany and Russia), two are in the Asia-Pacific region (the China and Philippines), and three are in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia), reflecting the global reach of Christianity.
As we can see, Christianity has spread far from its historical origins. For instance:
• Although Christianity started in Middle East-North Africa, today, the region has the lowest concentration of Christians (about 4% in the region) and the smallest number of Christians (about 13 million) in any significant geographic region.
• Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, has more Christians than all 20 countries in the Middle East-North Africa region combined.
• Now, Nigeria has more than twice as many Protestants (broadly described as independent and Anglicans churches) as Germany, the Protestant Reformation’s birthplace.
• Brazil has twice as many Catholic churches as Italy.
• Although Christians make up just less than one-third of the world’s population; they form a majority of the population in 158 countries and territories, approximately two-thirds of all countries and territories.
• Approximately 90% of Christians live in countries where Christians are the majority; only about 10% of Christians worldwide live as minorities.
GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION OF CHRISTIANS
So, where are the majority of Christians in the world today? The Pew Forum report indicates at least four potential answers, depending on how one divides the world:
THE GLOBAL SOUTH
In recent years, the rapid growth of Christianity in the developing countries of the Global South has been addressed by several academic books and articles – particularly Africa, Asia, and Latin America – and addressed whether or not the presence of Christians in the “Global North” is waning. A century ago, the Global North (commonly referred to as North America, Britain, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand) had more than four times as many Christians as the Global South (the rest of the world). Today, according to the Pew Forum report, more than 1.3 billion Christians live in the Global South (61%) compared to about 860 million in the Global North (39%).
THE GLOBAL NORTH
But even though Christians are more prevalent in the Global South, the concentration of Christians is much higher in the Global North, where approximately 69% of the population is Christian. In comparison, 24% of the population living in the Global South are Muslims. This reflects the fact that the Global South’s overall population is approximately 4.5 times larger than the Global North population.
A different way to look at the distribution of Christians around the world is by area. Numerically, at least, Europe does not dominate global Christianity as it did 100 years ago. Instead, the majority of Christians are in:
Among the five main geographical areas globally, America has the most significant number and the highest proportion among Christians. More than one-third of Christians worldwide (37%) live in America, where almost nine-in-ten (86%) live as Christians. United States, Brazil, and Mexico are the three countries with the largest Christian population. Together, these three countries alone account for almost one in every four Christians in the world (24%), about the equivalent proportion as the whole of Europe (26%) and all of sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Although Christians make up a smaller proportion of the population in America in 2010 (86%) than in 1910 (96%), the Americas account for a higher proportion of the world’s Christians (37%, up from 27% in 1910).
ASIA-PACIFIC AND SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Asia-Pacific and the Sub-Saharan Africa region now have a combined population of approximately 800 million Christians, about the same as America. And five of the top ten countries with the largest Christian population are either in Africa (Nigeria, Ethiopia, and DR Congo) or Asia (the Philippines and China). Moreover, the highest increase in the number of Christians in the last century has been in sub-Saharan Africa (about 60-fold, from less than 9 million in 1910 to more than 516 million in 2010) and in the Asia-Pacific region (around 10-fold, from about 28 million in 1910 to more than 285 million in 2010).
HOW ESTIMATES WERE GENERATED
In collaboration with demographers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, the Pew Forum collected and analyzed some 2,400 data sources, including censuses and general population surveys, to achieve Christian population figures for 232 countries and self-government territories – all countries and territories which the United Nations Population Division provides total population estimates.
However, in many countries, censuses and surveys don’t contain detailed information on denominational and religious movement affiliations. In several cases, Christian organizations remain the only source of information on the size of global movements within Christianity (e.g., evangelicalism and pentecostalism) and Protestant denominational families (e.g., Baptists and Methodists). The statistics in this report on Pentecostal, Charismatic and Evangelical Christians and Protestant denominational families were commissioned by the Pew Forum of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, whose researchers created estimates based in large part on figures provided by Christian organizations around the world. Readers should take note that these breakdowns have been derived differently from the overall Christian population estimates.
There are around 279 million Pentecostal Christians and 305 million Charismatic Christians worldwide. Charismatic Christians belong to non-pentecostal denominations, yet they engage in spiritual practices associated with pentecostalism, such as speaking in tongues and divine healing.
More than 286 million Christians can be classified as evangelicals, and this is because they either belong to churches affiliated with global or regional evangelical associations regional, or because they identify as evangelicals. Since several Pentecostals and charismatics are also evangelicals, these categories are not mutually exclusive.
BENEFITS OF CHRISTIANITY IN COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD
Christianity has been intricately entangled with the history and development of Western society. The Church has been a significant social service provider such as education and medical care, and inspiration for art, philosophy, and culture, and an important player in politics and religion. In different ways, this has tried to influence Western attitudes towards vice and virtue in diverse fields. Festivals such as Easter and Christmas are known as public holidays; the Gregorian calendar has been adopted worldwide as a civil calendar. The calendar is measured from the date of the birth of Jesus.
The Church’s cultural impact has been immense; that is; Church scholars preserved literacy in Western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, the Church rose to replace the Roman Empire as the unifying force in Europe, and the old cathedrals remain among the most emblematic architectural accomplishments of Western civilization. At that time, many of Europe’s universities were also founded by the Church. Many scholars argue that universities and cathedral schools have been a continuation of the monastery-promoted belief in learning. The university is generally considered to be an institution that originated in the medieval Christian setting, founded in the Cathedral Schools.
Christianity, as an organization and as a religion concerned with the spiritual life of black people, has made a vital contribution to the growth and ongoing advancement of formal western education in sub-Saharan Africa.
The condition that necessitated significant educational efforts on the part of Christian missionaries was that the African people’s literacy and numeracy skills needed to increase significantly for the Christian faith to make significant progress in its evangelization activities. The Protestant churches were advocates of mass education because of their emphasis on the need for every believer in reading the Bible in their language.
Christianity undoubtedly had an influence, both positive and negative, on the people of sub-Saharan Africa’s socio-political life. While some missionary enterprises focused exclusively on evangelization, missionaries such as Livingstone have demonstrated a holistic approach to missionary enterprise.
Sub-Saharan Africa is considered a “home to a multitude of diseases and epidemics,” diseases and epidemics that have afflicted the people of the region for centuries before the advent of medical science. In African thought, good health is perceived to be equivalent to life itself, so health is among the highest expectations of black Africans. Health advances in the area have made this dream a reality.
Missionaries have made a point of ensuring that hospitals and other health facilities are established in their missionary area of activity. As a result, the African health environment has changed for the better: the infant and maternal mortality rates have decreased significantly, and all Africans’ life expectancy has risen.
The key reason for implementing health care was to create an atmosphere conducive to the propagation of the Gospel. The introduction of medical services at Christian mission stations has contributed a great deal to the good health enjoyed by African converted to Christianity. This integrated approach to health care has also eliminated the many epidemics that have historically devastated the African population. Therefore, both the missionary and the medical practitioner were equally significant as far as the spread of Christianity was concerned.
As a result, many people, particularly those living south of the Sahara, have come to believe in the effectiveness of church-based health facilities compared to government facilities. Church-based facilities were considered to be humane and “people-friendly,” which made them famous.
Christianity has made magnificent contributions to human development in a vast and different range of fields, historically and in modern times, including science and technology, medicine, fine arts and architecture, politics, literature, music, philanthropy, philosophy, ethics, theater and business.