With approximately 1.6 billion followers, Islam is the world's second largest religion. Muslims live in more than 200 countries and in all five inhabited continents with the largest number of Muslims living in Asia and the highest density of Muslims in the Middle East-North African region. The Pew Forum (pewforum.org) reports that the Indonesian archipelago is home to the greatest number, with more than 209 million Muslims or more than 13 percent of the total worldwide Muslim population.
The greatest number of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region, and the four countries with the largest Muslim populations are all in Asia. They include: Indonesia, where about 209 million people (87.2 percent of the total population) are Muslim; India, which includes about 176 million Muslims (14.4 percent of the total population); Pakistan, with about 167 million Muslims (96.4 percent of the total population); and Bangladesh, with approximately 133 million Muslims (89.8 percent of the total population). Most Islamic practitioners living in the Asia-Pacific region are Sunni, although according to the Pew Forum, the largest number of Shiites are also found within this region, in Iran.
The Middle East & North Africa
The Muslim population in the Middle East & North Africa represents approximately one fifth of the total number of Muslims world wide, but the area is dominated by Islam: More than 90 percent of the total population here identity themselves as Muslim . Within this area, nearly 77 million Muslims live in Egypt (about 95 percent of the total population); over 71 million Muslims live in Turkey (about 98 percent of the total population); nearly 35 million Muslims are concentrated in Algeria (about 98 percent of the total population); and almost 32 million Muslims live in Morocco (about 99 percent of the total population).
Roughly three out of 10 Muslims live within sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria has the highest number of Islamic practitioners with about 77 million Muslims (about 49 percent of the total population). Muslims also number around 30 million in Sudan (about 88 percent of the total population), while Ethiopia has about 28 million practitioners (about 33 percent of the total population).
Rest of the World
About six percent of the total Muslim population call Europe their home, with some four million Muslims living in Germany, and another four million in France. Muslims also live in Albania (3 million, which is about 83 percent of the total population) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (2 million Muslims or about 56 percent of the total population) . About 2 million Muslims reside in the United States,where they represent less than one percent of the total population.
- The Pew Forum: Mapping the Global Muslim Population (PDF)
- The Pew Forum: The Global Religious Landscape
- The Pew Forum: The World's Muslims -- Unity and Diversity
- BBC: Islam at a Glance
- The Pew Forum: Mapping the Global Muslim Population (Sunni and Shia Populations)
- BBC: Quick Guide -- Sunnis and Shias
- The Pew Forum: World Distribution of Muslim Population
- The World Bank: Ethiopia
- The World Bank: Sudan
- The World Bank: Germany
Jason Cristiano Ramon holds a doctorate in political science and a master's degree in philosophy. He has taught political science in China.