Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
Taiwan has an area of 13,800 square miles and a population of 23 million. According to the 2006 Government Information Office Yearbook, the Religious Affairs Section of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) estimated that 35 percent of the population consider themselves Buddhist and 33 percent Taoist. While the overwhelming majority of religious adherents are either Buddhist or Taoist, many also consider themselves both Buddhist and Taoist.
In addition to organized religions, many persons also believe in traditional Chinese folk religions, which include some aspects of shamanism, ancestor worship, and animism. Researchers and academics estimate that as much as 80 percent of the population believes in some form of traditional folk religion. Such folk religions may overlap with an individual's belief in Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or other traditional Chinese religions.
Traditional Chinese religions with adherents constituting less than 5 percent of the population include: I Kuan Tao, Tien Ti Chiao (Heaven Emperor Religion), Tien Te Chiao (Heaven Virtue Religion), Li-ism, Hsuan Yuan Chiao (Yellow Emperor Religion), Tian Li Chiao (Tenrikyo), Universe Maitreya Emperor Religion, Hai Tze Tao, Zhonghua Sheng Chiao (Chinese Holy Religion), Da Yi Chiao (Great Changes Religion), Pre-cosmic Salvationism, and Huang Chung Chiao (Yellow Middle Religion).
There also may be an overlap between practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism, and other traditional Chinese religions with those of Falun Gong, which is registered as a civic, rather than a religious, organization. According to an academic source, Falun Gong membership exceeds 600,000 and continues to grow.Small percentages of the population consider themselves Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Sunni Muslim. The Church of Scientology, the Baha'I Faith, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mahikari Religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and the Unification Church are registered. Other Christian denominations present include Presbyterians, the True Jesus Church, Baptists, Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, and Episcopalians. Approximately 70 percent of the indigenous population of 484,000 Aborigines is Christian. There are also a small number of adherents of Judaism, although they are predominately expatriates.
While the authorities do not collect or independently verify statistics on religious affiliation, they maintain registration statistics reported voluntarily by religious organizations. The MOI Religious Affairs Section believes that these statistics significantly understate the number of religious believers. The MOI Religious Affairs Section estimates that approximately 50 percent of the population regularly participates in some form of organized religious practice, as distinguished from activities connected with traditional Chinese folk religions.
Religious beliefs cross political and geographical lines. Members of the political leadership practice a variety of faiths.
Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.
1. The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
2. 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.