Sri Lanka
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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Theravada Buddhist

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Theravada Buddhist (66.9%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Sri Lanka South-Central Asia World
Buddhist (all denominations combined) 67% 1.6% 6.6%
 
  • Theravada Buddhist
  • 66.9% 0.9% 1.6%
     
  • Mahayana Buddhist
  • 0.1% --- 4.3%
    Hindu 14.5% 56.1% 14.5%
    Muslim (all denominations combined) 10.2% 36.2% 22.8%
     
  • Sunni Muslim
  • 10.2% 27.3% 19%
     
  • Other and Unknown Muslim
  • < 0.1% 0.3% 0.3%
    Christian (all denominations combined) 7.6% 2.2% 29.9%
     
  • Catholic
  • 6.1% 0.7% 15%
     
  • Protestant
  • 0.7% 0.7% 5.6%
     
  • Pentecostal
  • 0.2% 0.3% 2.8%
     
  • Anglican
  • 0.2% --- 1.2%
     
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • 0.4% 0.3% 2.3%
    Other Religionist 0.1% < 0.1% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 0.5% 1.1% 12%

    Religious Demography3

    The country has an area of 25,322 square miles and a population of 20.1 million.

    Approximately 70 percent of the population is Buddhist, 15 percent Hindu, 8 percent Christian, and 7 percent Muslim. Christians tend to be concentrated in the west, with much of the east populated by Muslims and the north almost exclusively by Hindus.

    Most members of the majority Sinhala community are Theravada Buddhists. Most Tamils, who make up the largest ethnic minority, are Hindu. Almost all Muslims are Sunnis; there is also a small minority of Shi'a, including members of the Bohra community. Almost 80 percent of Christians are Roman Catholics, with Anglican and other mainstream Protestant churches also present in cities. Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, Baptists, Dutch Reformed, Anglicans, Pentecostals, and Assemblies of God are also present. Evangelical Christian groups have grown in recent years, although membership is still small.


    Sources

    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    3.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

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