Every day millions of people around the world turn to religion for comfort, strength and enlightenment as a moral compass. Some people do it more than other people and some countries do it more than other countries. What countries in the world can be considered the most religious?
These are the top 10 most religious countries in the world, according to a Gallup study conducted in 2012. These were chosen based on their religious practices and how they viewed themselves.
This South American country is a land of contrasts, a land of both immense wealth yet great poverty, a land of sin and salvation. When it comes to playtime Brazil lets loose with its Carnival, a celebration bordering on the obscene, but when it comes to pray time Brazilians also give it their all. Catholicism in Brazil was brought over by its Portuguese colonizers and the religion is now the one with most followers with 64%. Protestants are next at 22%. The rest of the figures are shared by atheists and those belonging to other faiths. Of the worshipping Brazilians, 85% consider themselves actively religious.
Religion is alive and well in the mountains and valleys of Peru. The natives have had their Pachamama (Mother Earth religion) since before the modern era, the Spanish conquerors brought Catholicism over with them, the missionaries brought Protestantism and still other groups came with Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism and other different faiths, and all of them seem to be sharing the same country without any sign of conflict. There just might be enough space for all faiths, 86% of Peruvians consider themselves as religious, compared to only 8% who don’t. There are almost no atheists or agnostics there.
Christianity, in its various forms, dominates in Kenya. Forty-seven percent of those are Protestants while 23.5% are Roman Catholics. Other denominations include the Africa Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Independent Presbyterian Church in Kenya and the Reformed Church of East Africa. There are also Muslim and other faiths, most of them residing in the Coast Province. Kenyans who actively practice their faith were placed at 88% while only 9% said they were not actively religious.
The only Islamic country in the list, Iraq is dominantly Muslim with the country’s population estimated at 95% Islamic. Most of others belonging to various faiths have long since fled after the American Invasion in 2003 to avoid fighting and persecution. Eighty-eight percent of Iraqis are active in their faith while only 9% are not. Why is Iraq so religious? Experts say this is more of a social phenomenon as it is cultural. According to them uncertainty, unrest and instability bring people closer to their god, and this is what has been happening in Iraq since its liberation.
There are several religions in this European country but the majority of the population or 86% practice the Orthodox Christian faith, Protestants are only 5.2% of the population while Roman Catholics are at 4.7%. The rest of the figures are shared among other different religions. Of the worshipping Romanians 89% consider themselves as actively religious. Romania’s strong religious ties can be traced to its past. Its folklore is filled with spirits and monsters, most notably vampires and werewolves, fueled by the country’s huge, precipitous forests. Such beliefs proved fertile ground for superstition and religious practices to take root.
Nestled between Bulgaria and Albania in southern Europe, the country of Macedonia has a rich history. It was conquered many times in the past by many factions that also brought their own religions. Among these were the Ottoman Turks who brought Islam, the Byzantines who brought Christianity and the Bulgarian tsars who brought the Orthodox faith. Today Orthodox is the most predominant religion. Catholicism, Islam and Judaism also have strong roots and a presence there. Macedonian practicing worshipers are estimated at 92%.
For those who have heard of Fiji but don’t know where it is, it is located in the Melanesian region of the South Pacific, that’s far to the east of Australia. It is one of the most remote countries in the world. So how did religion get there? It was brought there by Methodist missionaries in the middle of the 19th century. Methodist is now also the leading religion there followed by Catholicism, Assemblies of God, Seventh-Day Adventist, Anglican and others. Religiosity among Fijians is estimated at 93%.
This was one of the countries that immediately returned back to its religious past after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The country also has a proud Christian history; Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D. Legend has it that what is now known the modern-day Armenian Church was founded in the first century by no less than Thaddeus and Bartholomew, two of the disciples of Jesus Christ himself. Today an estimated 92% of Armenians are active worshippers, almost all of them Christian. The local Muslim and Jewish populations have been dwindled by emigration, although their mosques and synagogues and architecture still remain.
The different regions of Nigeria are dominated by different religions, but rough estimates place 50.8% of Nigerians as Christians, Muslims are at 47.8% while other religions and beliefs share the remaining figure. Missionaries have come to Nigeria as early as the 16th century but it was not until after World War 1 that churches were founded. While active participation in religious practices is recorded at a high of 93%. This may come at a price, those practicing traditional religious beliefs are allegedly being oppressed.
Ghana seems to be split between a Muslim northern region and Christian southern region. Ghanaian Christians are estimated to make up 71% of the population while Muslims make up 17%. Relations between the religions are described as peaceful and cooperative. Apart from the two most dominant religions; Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and Judaism are also represented and on the rise. Ghanaians have been described as the most religious nationality in the world with an estimated 96% of them claiming to be actively religious while only 2% were non-practicing. The rest were split as to their beliefs.