Membership, Community, Diversity

Where do Buddhists live today? Are any estimates of numbers available?

Buddhism enjoyed much greater success in other parts of Asia than in India, the land of its birth. Estimates of the global population of Buddhists vary from about a third to half a billion. Political circumstances make statistics particularly hard to get for China and Tibet, but it is clear that Buddhists have suffered terribly in both areas during the past half-century. Meanwhile, the tradition has been enjoying modest revival elsewhere in Asia, and has become increasingly popular in Europe (up to twenty-four million) and North America (from three to five million) as a result of both immigration and conversion. Nations with the highest percentage of Buddhists among the general population are Thailand (94% of national population), Cambodia (90%), Myanmar (formerly Burma, 88%), Japan (78%), and Korea (45%). Many millions of Buddhists once lived in China, but their number dwindled dramatically with the advent of the Communist system. Buddhism has been making a comeback in China in recent years, and there are now an estimated 13,000 temples and two hundred thousand monks and nuns. Tibet’s population was, until recently at least, almost entirely Buddhist. Between six hundred thousand and a million Buddhists, representing all major denominations, live in the United States.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Religion Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App