Christianity claims first rank among the world’s many religions, with more than 2.1 billion followers – over 31.5% of the world’s population. Founded in present day Israel, Christianity’s three main divisions are Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant, which is itself split into at least 20,000 different denominations.
One of the fastest growing world religions is Islam, which began in Saudi Arabia about 1400 years ago. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population but Muslims form the majority of the population in over fifty countries. Around the world, the total number of followers of Islam is put at 1.5 billion.
With over 900 million followers, Hinduism is said to be the world’s oldest religion and no one is sure of its founding, which seems to predate written history. Shaivism, Shaktism, Smartism and Vaishnavism are the main denominations. Unlike Christianity and Islam, who claim one founder: Jesus Christ and The Prophet Muhammad respectively, Hinduism does not have one single founder.
376 million people across the world are Buddhists, with Thailand and Cambodia having the largest populations of followers. Buddhism was founded in India around 2500 years ago by Gautama Siddhartha, known as the Buddha (the “Enlightened One”). There are three main denominations.
Fifth ranking is Sikhism which has around 23 million worshippers. While they are spread across the world, the majority live in the Punjab province of India.
A huge gap in follower numbers separates these five religions from other well known world religions like Judaism.