Information on Global Religious Distribution (2005)

United States Department of State

Country Background Notes

Quick statistics on the religious distribution, population, and ethnic breakdown in every country in the world is available on the website for the U.S. State Department. These breakdowns are available on a regional basis as well as an alphabetical country by country basis under the Background Notes section of the website, available at:
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/

An example of the Background Notes for Indonesia is contained in Appendix 1. (http://www.state.gov/p/eap/ci/id/)

Regional Bureaus and Country Offices

The State Department also has six regional Bureaus which specialize in the collection of up-to- date information on the latest trends and occurrences in countries within their regions. Often, it is possible to contact the Country Office of a particular country for more detailed information than is available on the site or for direction to additional sources for more detailed information. The six regional bureaus are broken down as follows:

  • Africa
  • East Asia and Pacific
  • Europe and Eurasia (including the New Independent States of the former U.S.S.R.)
  • Near East (includes Middle East and North Africa)
  • South Asia
  • Western Hemisphere (which includes all of South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Canada)

A list of all Country Offices can be found below with their phone numbers:
http://foia.state.gov/MMS/CountryOffices/cntry_off.asp

Office of International Religious Freedom

Headed by the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom John Hanford, the Office of International Religious Freedom is part of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. State Department. The office monitors worldwide religious persecution, recommends and implements policy, and develops programs promoting religious freedom. A link to Countries of Concern is also available on this page:
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, chaired by Preeta Bansal, is a federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor religious freedom in other countries and advise the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on how best to promote it.
The website has links to press releases on actions taken by the Commission, Countries of Concern, Policy Focus, and a background on the Commission and its members.
http://www.uscirf.gov/

The lengthy USCIRF annual report including a reporting of Countries of Concern:
http://www.uscirf.gov/reports/12May04/finalReport.php3

The United States Institute for Peace

An independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by the U.S. Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts.
http://www.usip.org/

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

The CIA’s World Factbook summarizes the political, religious, industrial, technological, economic, security, and social happenings in countries around the world, online at
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html
A breakdown of religious populations by country is found at the following URL:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2122.html

The United Nations (UN)

The UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) is the primary body within the UN dealing with Religious Intolerance.
Main Page: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/hchr.htm
Religious Intolerance: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/i2othrel.htm

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom

A non-U.S. focused summary of the social, political, religious, and economic events in countries around the world. Country profiles, which include percentage breakdowns of religious populations, are listed alphabetically under the Countries and Regions heading on their homepage: http://www.fco.gov.uk

Federal Foreign Office, Federal Republic of Germany

Another non-U.S. focused country analysis–including population breakdown by religious denomination–can be found at the German Foreign Office’s website. The Home Page is:
http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/en/index_html

An interactive map with specific country information can be found at:
http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/en/laenderinfos/index_html
under the heading “Country Information”

Online Maps of Global Religious Distribution

Thompson Learning/Wadsworth Publishing offers some online maps for historical and modern world religious distribution at: http://www.wadsworth.com/religion_d/special_features/popups/maps/maps_f.html