2.18 billon Christians in the world: Study

WASHINGTON – According to a new study, there are currently 2.18 billion Christians in more than 200 countries around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 6.9 billion global population in 2010.

The study, conducted by the US-based Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, found Christians to be so geographically widespread that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the centre of global Christianity.

The study, “Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population”, cites that 100 years ago, two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe but today only about a quarter of all Christians live there.

More than one-third of Christians live in the Americas; about a quarter live in sub-Saharan Africa and 13 per cent live in Asia and the Pacific.

The data indicates that during the past 100 years, the number of Christians around the world has more than tripled from historical estimates of about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion today.

But the world’s overall population has also risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population in 2010 (32 per cent) as they did a century ago (35 per cent).

The study also reveals that although Europe and the Americas are still home to a majority (63 per cent) of the world’s Christians, that share is much lower than it was in 1910 when it was 93 per cent. In the past 100 years, the number of Christians grew significantly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

The study also breaks down where Catholics – numbering 1.1 billion worldwide and half of the global Christian population – reside.

Brazil, with 134 million Catholics, has the world’s largest Catholic population, which totals more than the number of Catholics in Italy, France and Spain combined. – Catholic News, a publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore.