- A new demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 1.57 billion Muslims of all ages living in the world today, representing 23 percent of an estimated 2009 world population of 6.8 billion.
Released today by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, Mapping the Global Muslim Population offers the most up-to-date and fully sourced estimates of the size and distribution of the worldwide Muslim population, including sectarian identity.
Key findings include that while Muslims are found on all five inhabited continents, more than 60 percent of the global Muslim population is in Asia and about 20 percent is in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Middle East-North Africa region is also said to have the highest percentage of Muslim-majority countries. More than half of the 20 countries and territories in that region have populations that are approximately 95 percent Muslim or greater, the report found.
It further states that more than 300 million Muslims, or one-fifth of the world's Muslim population, live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion. These minority Muslim populations are often quite large. India, for example, has the third-largest population of Muslims worldwide. China has more Muslims than Syria, while Russia is home to more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined, the study has found.
Previously published estimates of the size of the global Muslim population have ranged widely, from 1 billion to 1.8 billion. The new study is based on the best available data for 232 countries and territories. Pew Forum researchers, in consultation with nearly 50 demographers and social scientists at universities and research centers around the world, analysed about 1,500 sources, including census reports, demographic studies and general population surveys, to arrive at these figures.
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