November 27, 2016 - Whereas some countries of the world are deeply religious, others are not so. Gallup polled people around the world to find out the percent of the population by country who believe in some religion. Here is a list of top ten countries that are least religious in the world. The percent shown next to the country's name is the portion of the poputation who believe in religion in each country. China tops the list, followed by Japan and Estonia.
10. Vietnam 34%
Only 34% of the residents of Vietnam consider religion to be an important part of their daily lives, as per a recent WIN/Gallup polling. Perhaps the prevalence of Marxist-Leninist ideology in the country and the influence of Communist rule in Vietnam is responsible for the atheistic stance of most of Vietnam's population. Among the religious believers in the country, Buddhism is the religion of the majority of those practicing a belief system, followed by Catholic Christians, and other, smaller minorities.
9. United Kingdom 30%
Religiosity appears to be diminishing in the United Kingdom, with only 30% of the population affirming that religion plays an important role in their daily lives. A recent Times poll discovered that almost 1 in 5 Britons are atheists. Out of 1,550 adults surveyed in Britain, 19% claimed to be atheists, 7% were Agnostic, and 3% identified themselves as humanists. An interesting survey by HuffPost UK revealed that more than half of all Britons believe religion does more harm than good, and just 8% of British residents surveyed considered themselves to be ‘very religious’.
8. Netherlands 26%
According to a survey conducted by Ipsos, Netherlands has more atheists than believers. With 25% atheists and 17% believers, the majority of the country’s population lies in the large area between these two extremes. Only 26% of the people of Netherlands answered ‘Yes’ when asked whether religion plays an important role in their daily lives, as per a recent WIN/Gallup poll.
7. Hong Kong, SAR of China 24%
The religious beliefs of the people of Hong Kong are minimally rooted in a strong, faith-based system, with only 24% of the population vouching for the important role of religion in their daily lives. This special administrative region of China appears, however, to be slightly more religious than China itself, which is the least religious country in the world. Despite having a high percentage of atheists (34%), Hong Kong allows every citizen to practice their own religion without state interference in the same aspect of life.
6. Czech Republic 23%
The Czechs are considered to be one of the least religious populations in the world, with concurrently very low church attendance and lack of formal affiliation within the greater part of the Czech population to any church. The Czech Republic is also one of the most secular countries in the world. Only 23% of the country’s population regard religion as an important part of their daily lives. However, the idea that Czechs are complete non-believers in not entirely true. Even though most are not strict followers of any formal religion, many believe in magic and alternative, or ‘invisible, religions. For example, a significant number of Czechs believe in the powers of the fortune tellers, and in the magical properties of lucky charms.
5. Denmark 19%
Denmark is one of the best countries to be an atheist, as a large segment of the Danish population are atheists themselves. Only 19% of the population of this country assign importance to religion in their day-to-day lives, as per the data revealed by a recent WIN/Gallup poll. For these people, religion only plays a ceremonial role in their society. Hence, an individual can enjoy the Christmas celebrations in the country without the need to believe in origin of the festival.
4. Sweden 19%
Just like its neighboring Denmark, Sweden is also one of the least religious countries in the world, with only 19% of Swedes acknowledging that religion has an important influence in their daily lives. Even though the Swedish Church claims that 6.3 million Swedes are affiliated to the Church, only 5% of the people are regular churchgoers. However, Christian traditions like the Lucia remain popularly celebrated across the country. In more recent years, the country has also witnessed a growth in Islamic mosque and Jewish synagogue attendance, attributed to the large numbers of immigrants arriving into this country.
3. Estonia 16%
A mere 16% of Estonians believed that religion plays an important role in their daily lives. However, despite the prevalence of non-belief in the formal religious systems, more than half of Estonia’s population has faith in spiritual forces in some shape or form. Only about one-fifth of the total population of the country are affiliated to religious associations, and churches across the country almost remain empty, even on traditionally pious Sundays.
2. Japan 13%
31% of Japanese today consider themselves to be atheists, and only 13% believe that religion has an important role to play in their daily lives. Even though superficial religious practices like traditional marriages are still observed, formal religion is not practiced by most of the Japanese population. Perhaps, like Germany, the World Wars had an effect on the country’s religiosity, and some sort of post-war taboo continues to exert its secularist effect to this date more than seven decades later.
1. China 7%
China dominates the world in terms of being the least religious country in the world, with nearly half of the country's population being deemed as ‘non-believers’. The WIN/Gallup poll reveals that a meager 7% proportion of the Chinese population believes religion to play an important role in their daily lives. Though the Chinese state officially recognizes the five religions of Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Taoism, the state claims to permits its citizens to practice any religion of their own while also encouraging atheism. However, the Communist Party of China holds the right to persecute organized religions in the country, given that they deem the practice of such to be a threat to the country’s regime or a threat to the religious freedoms of other Chinese citizens.