According to a comprehensive report on the global Muslim population released Wednesday, Muslims worldwide number 1.57 billion. This means that almost 23% of people worldwide practice Islam. The study shows that Indonesia, Pakistan, and India are home to the highest Muslim populations, with over 60% of Muslims residing in Asia.
The results of “Mapping the Global Muslim Population,” by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, were surprising to even the researchers. While a common misconception equates Muslims with Arabs, only 20% of Muslims live in the Middle East and North Africa. The Pew Forum notes that more Muslims reside in China than Syria, and that “Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined.” Germany, not often associated with Islam, is in actuality home to more Muslims than Lebanon.
Sub-Saharan Africa, home to 15% of Muslims worldwide, likewise contains a smaller Muslim population than once thought, though Islam is believed to be growing in this region. Europe is home to 2.4% of Muslims, and 0.3% reside in the Americas.
The report shows the diversity of the Muslim population. According to the Pew Forum, “more than 300 million Muslims, or one-fifth of the world’s Muslim population, live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion.” While India is a majority Hindu nation, it is home to 161 million Muslims. Ethiopia, China, Russia, and Tanzania boast sizable Muslim populations, though none of these nations claim a Muslim majority.