Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXVI World PDF Print E-mail


The Spread of Islam and Christianity through the World

We have posted our thirty-sixth note on the Religion Data of Census 2011 at This concerns the changing religious profile of the world and documents the great expansion of Christianity and Islam in the course of the twentieth century .

Between 1900 and 2010, the world has witnessed a great expansion of the two great proselytizing religions, Christianity and Islam. The share of Islam in the population of the world has increased by 10 percentage points, from 12.3 percent in 1900 to 22.5 percent in 2010. The share of Christianity in the total population of the world has not changed, but it has expanded deep into Africa and parts of Asia.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Christianity was confined to the continents of Europe and Americas. Of 558 million Christians in the world in 1900, only 32 million, forming less than 6 percent of the total, were in Asia and Africa. In 2010, of 2,260 million Christians in the world 836 million, forming 37 percent of the total, are in Africa and Asia. The number of Christians in Africa and Asia together is now about the same as their number in Europe and North America.

Nearly half of the population of Africa is now Christian. This Christianisation of the African continent during the twentieth century is among the great success stories of the Church and it has given the Church the confidence and resolve to attempt a similar penetration of Christianity into Asia in the course of the twenty-first century.

Muslims have increased in numbers, but they have not spread into newer parts of the world. The distribution of Muslims across the world remains nearly the same as at the beginning of the twentieth century.

But the growth of Muslims has been faster than other communities in nearly every part of the world. Consequently, their share in the population of the world as a whole and in different regions and countries of the world has increased substantially during the twentieth century, giving rise to severe tensions in several parts of the world. We shall give data on the increased share of Christians and Muslims in the population of different regions and countries of the world in further detail in our forthcoming note.

While both Christianity and Islam have grown in their different ways, all other religions of the world have remained largely confined to their homelands and, for many, their share in the world has sharply shrunk. There has been some increase in their diaspora, but this represents only movement of people and not religions. We shall give detailed numbers for the diaspora of different religions in a later note.

P/S: Blogs from I to XXXVI in this series have been posted in pdf format at our website These may be accessed at: