China is the country with the largest population of Buddhists, approximately 244 million or 18.2% of its total population. They are mostly followers of Chinese schools of Mahayana, making this the largest body of Buddhist traditions. Mahayana, also practised in broader East Asia, is followed by over half of the world's Buddhists.
The second largest body of Buddhist schools is Theravada, mostly followed in Southeast Asia. The third and smallest body of schools Vajrayana, is followed mostly in Tibet, the Himalayan region, Mongolia and parts of Russia, but is disseminated throughout the world.
According to a demographic analysis reported by Peter Harvey (2013):
|% Buddhist (2010)
|No. of Buddhists (2010)
|No. of Buddhists|
|Afghanistan||31,410,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Albania||3,200,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Algeria||35,470,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|American Samoa||70,000||0.3%||< 10,000|
|Andorra||80,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Angola||19,080,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Armenia||3,090,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Azerbaijan||9,190,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Bahamas||340,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Barbados||270,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Belarus||9,600,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Benin||8,850,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Bolivia||9,930,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Botswana||2,010,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Bulgaria||7,490,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Burkina Faso||16,470,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Cameroon||19,600,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Chad||11,230,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Colombia||46,290,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||65,970,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Republic of the Congo||4,040,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Costa Rica||4,660,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Côte d'Ivoire||19,740,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Croatia||4,400,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Cuba||11,260,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Czech Republic||10,490,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Dominican Republic||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Ecuador||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Egypt||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|El Salvador||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Estonia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Ethiopia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Falkland Islands||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Federated States of Micronesia||110,000||0.4%||< 10,000|
|Fiji||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Finland||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|French Guiana||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|French Polynesia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Ghana||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Greece||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Guatemala||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Guinea||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Guyana||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Haiti||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Hungary||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Iran||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Iraq||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Jamaica||2,740,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Kenya||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Kyrgyzstan||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Latvia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Lesotho||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Liberia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Liechtenstein||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Lithuania||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Luxembourg||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Madagascar||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Malawi||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Mali||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Malta||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Martinique||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Mauritius||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Mexico||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Montenegro||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Morocco||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Mozambique||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Namibia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|New Caledonia||250,000||0.6%||< 10,000|
|Nicaragua||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Northern Mariana Islands||60,000||10.6%||< 10,000|
|North Macedonia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Palestine||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Papua New Guinea||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Paraguay||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Philippines||93,260,000||< 0.1%||80,000||46,558 (2010 census)|
|Poland||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Romania||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Serbia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Seychelles||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Sierra Leone||5,870,000||0.3%||< 10,000|
|Slovakia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Slovenia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Solomon Islands||540,000||0.3%||< 10,000|
|Spain||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Sri Lanka||20,860,000||69.3%||14,450,000||70.2% / 14,222,844 (2011 census)|
|Sudan||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Swaziland||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Taiwan||23,220,000||21.3%||4,950,000||35% / 8,050,000 (2006)|
|Tajikistan||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Tanzania||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Togo||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Tonga||100,000||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Tunisia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1,340,000||0.3%||< 10,000|
|Turkmenistan||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Tuvalu||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Uganda||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|United Arab Emirates||7,510,000||2%||150,000|
|Uruguay||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|US Virgin Islands||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Vanuatu||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Venezuela||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Yemen||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Zambia||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Zimbabwe||< 0.1%||< 10,000|
|Region||Estimated total population||Estimated Buddhist population||%|
|Middle East-North Africa||341,020,000||500,000||0.1%|
|Country||Estimated Buddhist population||% of the total population of the country||% of world Buddhist population|
|Subtotal for the ten countries||460,610,000||(% of total of all ten countries) 15.3%||94.5%|
|Subtotal for the rest of the world||26,930,000||(% of rest of world population) 0.4%||5.5%|
note: Exact number of followers when calculating Buddhists varies because Buddhism is often mixed with the native East Asian religions in their respective countries. For example, in Japan the number of Buddhists when calculating including the Shintoists would ramp the percentage of Buddhists in Japan from 67% to >98%.
Buddhism in Afghanistan was one of the major religious forces in the region during pre-Islamic era. The religion was widespread south of the Hindu Kush mountains. Buddhism first arrived in Afghanistan in 305 BC when the Greek Seleucid Empire made an alliance with the Indian Maurya Empire. The resulting Greco-Buddhism flourished under the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC) and the later Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - 10 AD) in modern northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greco-Buddhism reached its height under the Kushan Empire, which used the Greek alphabet to write its Bactrian language.
Lokaksema (c. 178 AD), who travelled to the Chinese capital of Luoyang and was the first translator of Mahayana Buddhist scriptures into Chinese, and Mahadharmaraksita who, according to the Mahavamsa (Chap. XXIX), led 30,000 Buddhist monks from "the Greek city of Alasandra" (Alexandria of the Caucasus, around 150 km north of today's Kabul in Afghanistan), to Sri Lanka for the dedication of the Great Stupa in Anuradhapura. The Greco-Bactrian King Menander I, (Pali) "Milinda," ruled 165 BC - 135 BC, was a renowned patron of Buddhism immortalized in the Buddhist text the Milinda Panha.
The famous Persian Buddhist monastery in Balkh in northern Afghanistan, known as Nava Vihara ("New Monastery"), functioned as the center of Central Asia Buddhist learning for centuries.
The Buddhist religion in Afghanistan started fading with the arrival of Islam in the 7th century but finally ended during the Ghaznavids in the 11th century.Buddhism in Argentina
Buddhism in Argentina has been practiced since the early 1980s.
Although Argentina is largely Catholic Christianity, Chinese immigrants established the first Chinese temple in 1986, and Korean immigrants founded their own temple. Since then many groups have been giving teachings, some of them rooted in the best known Sōtō tradition from Japan, but also in many Tibetan institutes for the practice of meditation (Mahamudra, Dzog Chen, Lam Rim).
The XIV Dalai Lama visited Buenos Aires twice. The first time was in 1991 or 1992.
Nowadays many branches have flourished and teach.
Many organizations have cooperated to bring the relics of the Buddha to Argentina. This event was supported by the Royal Embassy of Thailand in Buenos Aires.
Among scholars who contributed to the spreading of Buddhism in Argentina are Samuel Wolpin, whose books have opened a door to many students and the general public, and Carmen Dragonetti and Fernando Tola, who have been researching and studying Buddhism for many years, with their books translated to many languages.
Teachers who have visited the country include Pu Hsien, founder of the Tzon Kuan Temple, Mok Sunim, responsible for spreading of Korean Buddhism in the early twentyfirst century, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, founder of the international Dzog Chen Community who transmitted Dzog Chen teachings here, and Lama Ngawang Sherab Dorje, who visited Argentina many times.
Local teachers include Augusto Alcalde (Diamond Sangha) the first Roshi in this country. Jorge Bustamante, Soto lineage. Alberto Pulisi (Upasaka). Gonzalo Barreiros (Dharma Teacher), and two Argentine lamas, Horacio and Consuelo.Buddhism in Australia
In Australia, Buddhism is a minority religion. According to the 2016 census, 2.4 percent of the total population of Australia identified as Buddhist. It was also the fastest-growing religion by percentage, having increased its number of adherents by 79 percent between the 1996 and 2001 censuses. The highest percentage of Buddhists in Australia is present in Christmas Island,where Buddhism constitute 18.1% of the total population according to the 2016 Census.Buddhism is the third largest religion in the country after Christianity and Islam.Buddhism in Bangladesh
It is said that Buddha once in his life came to this region East Bengal to spread Buddhism and he was successful to convert the local people of East Bengal to Buddhism. Buddhism is now the third largest religion in Bangladesh with about 2% of population adhering to Theravada Buddhism. Over 65% of the Buddhist population is concentrated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, where Buddhism the predominant faith of the Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, other Jumma people and the Barua, while the remaining 35% of the population are from the Bengali Buddhist community. Buddhist communities are present in the urban centers of Bangladesh, particularly Chittagong and Dhaka.Buddhism in Bhutan
Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion in Bhutan. Vajrayana Buddhism is the state religion of Bhutan, and Buddhists comprise two-thirds to three-quarters and Hinduism one-quarter of its population. Although the Buddhism practiced in Bhutan originated in Tibetan Buddhism, it differs significantly in its rituals, liturgy, and monastic organization. The state religion has long been supported financially by the government through annual subsidies to Buddhist monastery, shrines, monks, and nuns. In the modern era, support of the state religion during the reign of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck includes the manufacture of 10,000 gilded bronze images of the Buddha, publication of elegant calligraphied editions of the 108-volume Kangyur (Collection of the Words of the Buddha) and the 225-volume Tengyur (Collection of Commentaries), and the construction of numerous chorten (stupas) throughout the country. Guaranteed representation in the National Assembly and the Royal Advisory Council, Buddhists constitute the majority of society and are assured an influential voice in public policy.Buddhism in Brazil
With nearly 250,000 Buddhists, Brazil is home to the third largest Buddhist population in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. Buddhism in Brazil consists of practitioners from various Buddhist traditions and schools. A number of Buddhist organisations and groups are also active in Brazil, with nearly 150 temples spread across the states.Buddhism in France
Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in France, after Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
France has over two hundred Buddhist meditation centers, including about twenty sizable retreat centers in rural areas. The Buddhist population mainly consists of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean immigrants, with a substantial minority of native French converts and "sympathizers." The rising popularity of Buddhism in France has been the subject of considerable discussion in the French media and academy in recent years.Buddhism in Indonesia
Buddhism has a long history in Indonesia, and is recognized as one of six official religions in Indonesia, along with Islam, Christianity (Protestantism and Catholicism), Hinduism and Confucianism. According to the 2000 national census roughly 0.8% of the total citizens of Indonesia were Buddhists, and numbered around 1.7 million. Most Buddhists are concentrated in Jakarta, Riau, Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung, North Sumatra, and West Kalimantan. These totals, however, are probably inflated, as practitioners of Taoism and Chinese folk religion, which are not considered official religions of Indonesia, likely declared themselves as Buddhists on the most recent census. Today, the majority of Buddhists in Indonesia are Chinese, however small numbers of native (such as Javanese and Sasak) Buddhists are also present.Buddhism in Iran
Buddhism in Iran dates back to the 2nd century, when Parthians, such as An Shigao, were active in spreading Buddhism in China. Many of the earliest translators of Buddhist literature into Chinese were from Parthia and other kingdoms linked with present-day Iran.Buddhism in Malaysia
Buddhism is the second largest religion in Malaysia, after Islam, with 19.2% of Malaysia's population being Buddhist although some estimates put that figure up to 21.6% when combined with Chinese religions. Buddhism in Malaysia is mainly practised by the ethnic Malaysian Chinese, but there are also Malaysian Siamese, Malaysian Sri Lankans and Burmese in Malaysia that practice Buddhism such as Ananda Krishnan and K. Sri Dhammananda and a sizeable population of Malaysian Indians.Buddhism in Mongolia
Buddhism in Mongolia derives much of its recent characteristics from Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelug and Kagyu lineages, but is distinct and presents its own unique characteristics.
Buddhism in Mongolia began with the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) emperors' conversion to Tibetan Buddhism. The Mongols returned to shamanic traditions after the collapse of the Mongol Empire, but Buddhism reemerged in the 16th and 17th centuries.Buddhism in Nepal
Buddhism in Nepal started spreading since the reign of Ashoka through Indian and Tibetan missionaries. The Kiratas were the first people in Nepal who embraced Gautama Buddha’s teachings, followed by the Licchavis and Newars.
Buddha was born in Lumbini in the Shakya Kingdom. Lumbini is considered to lie in present-day Rupandehi district, Lumbini zone of Nepal.
Buddhism is the second-largest religion in Nepal. According to 2011 census, the Buddhist population in Nepal is 9% of the country population. It has not been possible to assign with certainty the year in which Prince Siddhartha, the birth name of the Buddha, was born, it is usually placed at around 563 BCE. According to 2001 census, 10.74% of Nepal's population practice Buddhism, consisting mainly of Tibeto-Burman-speaking ethnicities, the Newar. In Nepal's hill and mountain regions Hinduism has absorbed Buddhist tenets to such an extent that in many cases they have shared deities as well as temples. For instance, the Muktinath Temple is sacred and a common house of worship for both Hindus and Buddhists.Buddhism in Russia
Historically, Buddhism was incorporated into Siberia in the early 17th century. Buddhism is considered as one of Russia's traditional religions, legally a part of Russian historical heritage. Besides the historical monastic traditions of Buryatia, Kalmykia and Tuva, Buddhism is now widespread all over Russia, with many ethnic Russian converts.The main form of Buddhism in Siberia is the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, informally known as the "yellow hat" tradition, with other Tibetan and non-Tibetan schools as minorities. Although Tibetan Buddhism is most often associated with Tibet, it spread into Mongolia, and via Mongolia into Russia.Datsan Gunzechoinei in Saint Petersburg is the northernmost Buddhist temple in Russia.Buddhism in Scotland
Buddhism in Scotland is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Scotland Buddhists represent 0.2% of the population or 12,795 people.Buddhism in Singapore
Buddhism in Singapore is practiced by approximately 33% of the country's population. In 2015, out of 3,276,190 Singaporeans polled, 1,087,995 (33.21%) of them identified themselves as Buddhists.Buddhism was introduced in Singapore primarily by migrants from across the world over past centuries. The first recorded histories of Buddhism in Singapore can be observed in the early days' monasteries and temples such as Thian Hock Keng and Jin Long Si Temple that were built by settlers that came from various parts of the world, in particularly Asia.
There are a variety of Buddhist organizations in Singapore, with the more predominant authorities being established ones such as the Singapore Buddhist Federation.Buddhism in Venezuela
Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people (roughly 0.2% of the population). The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.
Most identify with the Mahayana tradition, reflecting the religious heritage of their emigrant countries.
However, in the mid-1990s Keun-Tshen Goba (né Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta), together with Jigme Rinzen, founded a meditation center using the Shambhala Training method.
There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia.Buddhism in the Maldives
Buddhism in the Maldives was the predominant religion at least until the 12th century CE. It is not clear how Buddhism was introduced into the islands.Buddhism in the United Kingdom
Buddhism in the United Kingdom has a small but growing number of supporters which, according to a Buddhist organisation, is mainly because of the result of conversion. In the UK census for 2011, there were about 178,000 people who registered their religion as Buddhism, and about 174,000 who cited religions other than Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism. This latter figure is likely to include some people who follow the traditional Chinese mixture of religions including Buddhism.Newar Buddhism
Newar Buddhism is the form of Vajrayana Buddhism practiced by the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. It has developed unique socio-religious elements, which include a non-monastic Buddhist society based on the Newar caste system and patrilineality. The ritual priests (guruju), vajracharya (who perform rituals for others) and shakya (who perform rituals mostly for their own families) form the non-celibate religious sangha while other Buddhist Newar castes like the Urāy act as patrons. Uray also patronise Tibetan Vajrayanin, Theravadin, and even Japanese clerics.Although there was a vibrant regional tradition of Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley during the first millennium, the transformation into a distinctive cultural and linguistic form of Buddhism appears to have taken place in the fifteenth century, at about the same time that similar regional forms of Indic Buddhism such as those of Kashmir and Indonesia were on the wane. As a result, Newar Buddhism seems to preserve some aspects of Indian Buddhism that were not preserved in schools of Buddhism elsewhere.
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