WASHINGTON – According to a new study, there are currently 2.18 billion Christians in more than 200 countries around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 6.9 billion global population in 2010.
The study, conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, found Christians to be so geographically widespread that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the centre of global Christianity.
The study, Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population, cites that 100 years ago, two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe but today only about a quarter of all Christians live there.
More than one-third of Christians live in the Americas; about a quarter live in sub-Saharan Africa and 13 percent live in Asia and the Pacific.
The data indicates that during the past 100 years, the number of Christians around the world has more than tripled from historical estimates of approximately 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion today.
But the world’s overall population has also risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population in 2010 (32 percent) as they did a century ago (35 percent).
The study also reveals that although Europe and the Americas are still home to a majority (63 percent) of the world’s Christians, that share is much lower than it was in 1910 when it was 93 percent. In the past 100 years, the number of Christians grew significantly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.
The study also breaks down where Catholics – numbering 1.1 billion worldwide and half of the global Christian population – reside.
Brazil, with 134 million Catholics, has the world’s largest Catholic population, which totals more than the number of Catholics in Italy, France and Spain combined.
Other countries with the highest percentages of Catholic populations include: Mexico, the Philippines and the United States.
The 10 countries with the largest number of Catholics contain more than half of the world’s Catholics. - CNS