Pew Research Lists the 10 Countries With the Largest Christian Populations and the 10 Countries With the Largest Muslim Populations

A Catholic prays during morning Mass in Kano, Nigeria; Muslims mark the end of Ramadan with prayers at a mosque in Lagos. Nigeria has the sixth-largest Christian population in the world, as well as the fifth-largest Muslim population. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images, left; Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)

“Top 10” lists can often be helpful in displaying and illuminating data. For example, the two tables of countries with the largest Christian and Muslim populations featured here reveal differences in the concentration, diversity and projected changes in the world’s two largest religions.

The two lists show that the global Muslim population is more heavily concentrated in Islam’s main population centers than the global Christian population is for Christianity, which is more widely dispersed around the world. Indeed, about two-thirds (65%) of the world’s Muslims live in the countries with the 10 largest Muslim populations, while only 48% of the world’s Christians live in the countries with the 10 largest Christian populations.

To put it another way, more than half (52%) of the world’s Christians live in countries other than those with the 10 largest Christian populations, while this is true for just over a third (35%) of the world’s Muslims. In absolute terms, there are twice as many Christians (1.2 billion) as there are Muslims (609 million) living in countries that are not on their religion’s top 10 list.

A number of the countries with the world’s 10 largest Muslim or Christian populations also have large (and in some cases, larger) populations of other faith groups. In India, which has the second-largest Muslim population, Islam is a minority religion (making up 15% of the country’s population) and Hinduism is the majority faith. Nigeria, which has the sixth-largest Christian population in the world (87 million), also has the world’s fifth-largest Muslim population (90 million).

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SOURCE: Pew Research Center, Jeff Diamant