20th August, 2012
More people in Africa profess to be religious than in any other region around the world while globally only 13 per cent of people say they are atheists, according to the latest Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism.
The latest global poll released by WIN-Gallup International shows that 89 per cent of Africans say they are religious - well above the global average of 59 per cent. Africa was followed by Latin America (84 per cent) and South Asia (83 per cent) while the areas where the least number of people claimed to be religious were Western Europe (51 per cent), East Asia (39 per cent) and North Asia (17 per cent).
TOP 10 COUNTRIES WHERE PEOPLE IDENTIFY AS BEING RELIGIOUS
Ghana 96 per cent
Nigeria 93 per cent
Armenia 92 per cent
Fiji 92 per cent
Macedonia 90 per cent
Romania 89 per cent
Iraq 88 per cent
Kenya 88 per cent
Peru 86 per cent
Brazil 85 per cent
Source: Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism, 2012
Ghana topped the list of countries with the highest proportion of self-declared religious people with 96 per cent of people saying they were religious followed by Nigeria (93 per cent), Armenia (92 per cent), Fiji (92 per cent) and Macedonia (90 per cent). Countries where the least number of people identified as being religious included the Czech Republic (20 per cent), Japan (16 per cent) and China (14 per cent).
In the US, 60 per cent of those surveyed identified themselves as religious compared with 47 per cent in Ireland, 46 per cent in Canada, and 37 per cent in Australia.
The poll also shows that 13 per cent of people identify as being atheists with most of them concentrated in East Asia - in China 47 per cent say they are a "convinced atheist" and in Japan 31 per cent - as well as in Western Europe where 14 per cent of people say they are atheists.
Of Western European nations, the percentage of atheists were highest in countries including France (29 per cent), Germany (15 per cent) and the Netherlands (14 per cent). In Australia, the figure was 10 per cent - the same as in Austria, Iceland and Ireland while in the US it was five per cent.
Meanwhile the survey found that the number of people who identified as being a religious person had declined globally by nine per cent between 2005 and 2012. The countries where the decline was greatest included Vietnam (down 23 per cent), Switzerland (down 21 per cent), France (down 21 per cent) and South Africa (down 19 per cent).
The poll is based on interviews with more than 51,000 people from 57 countries on five continents with a sample of 1,000 people from each country. All those who took part in the poll were each asked the same question: "Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?"
Other findings from the research revealed that higher proportions of people in lower income groups were religious compared to those on higher incomes and that the proportion of people declaring themselves religious was less among those of higher education. Interestingly, 81 per cent of people who identified themselves as Christian said they were religious compared with 74 per cent of Muslims, 38 per cent of Jews and 82 per cent of Hindus.
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