NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 9, 2009

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report shows that the global Muslim population stands at 1.57 billion, meaning that nearly 1 in 4 people in the world practice Islam.  Pew officials call the report the most thorough on the size and distribution of adherents of the world's second largest religion behind Christianity, which has an estimated 2.1 billion to 2.2 billion followers.

The arduous task of determining the Muslim populations in 232 countries and territories involved analyzing census reports, demographic studies and general population surveys, the report says.  In cases where the data was a few years old, researchers projected 2009 numbers:

  • More than 60 percent of the world's Muslims live in Asia.
  • About 20 percent live in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Some 15 percent live in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2.4 percent are in Europe and 0.3 percent are in the Americas.
  • While the Middle East and North Africa have fewer Muslims overall than Asia, the region easily claims the most Muslim-majority countries.

Other findings:

  • Two-thirds of all Muslims live in 10 countries: Six are in Asia (Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey), three are in North Africa (Egypt, Algeria and Morocco) and one is in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria).
  • About three-quarters of Muslims living as minorities are concentrated in five countries: India (161 million), Ethiopia (28 million), China (22 million), Russia (16 million) and Tanzania (13 million).
  • Indonesia, which has a tradition of a more tolerant Islam, has the world's largest Muslim population (203 million, or 13 percent of the world's total).
  • Europe is home to about 38 million Muslims, or about five percent of its population: Germany appears to have more than 4 million Muslims -- almost as many as North and South America combined.
  • Of roughly the 4.6 million Muslims in the Americas, more than half live in the United States although they only make up 0.8 percent of the population there; about 700,000 people in Canada are Muslim, or about 2 percent of the total population.

Source: Associated Press Report, "Nearly 1 in 4 People Worldwide is Muslim,", October 8, 2009; based upon: Report, "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Muslim Population," Pew Forum, October 2009.

For text:,2933,562101,00.html


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