Worldwide, there are an estimated 58 million members of other religions, accounting for
nearly 1% of the global population. The “other religions” category is diverse and comprises
groups not classified elsewhere. This category includes followers of religions that are not
specifically measured in surveys and censuses in most countries: the Baha’i faith, Taoism,
Jainism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Tenrikyo, Wicca, Zoroastrianism and many others. Because of
the paucity of census and survey data, the Pew Forum has not estimated the size of individual
religions within this category, though some estimates from other sources are provided in the
Spotlight on Other Religions sidebar below.
Members of other world religions are heavily concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region (89%).
The remainder is divided among North America (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (3%), Latin America
and the Caribbean (2%), Europe (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).
Although the majority of members of other religions live in Asia and the Pacific, only about 1%
of the people in the region adhere to these faiths. In the remaining regions, members of other
religions make up less than 1% of the population.
India has the largest share (47%) of all members of other religions, including millions of
Sikhs and Jains. Outside India, the largest shares of people who belong to faiths in the “other religion” category are in China (16%), Japan (10%), Taiwan (7%), North Korea (5%) and the
United States (3%).
Adherents of “other religions” do not make up a majority of the population in any country.
Globally, members of other religions are older (median age of 32) than the overall global
population (median age of 28). Reliable regional data on the median age of followers of other
world religions is available only for Asia and the Pacific, where it is 33, four years older than
the overall regional median (29).
Spotlight on Other Religions
The “other religions” category is diverse and
comprises all groups not classified elsewhere.
It includes followers of religions that are
not specifically measured in most censuses
and surveys, including but not limited to the
faiths listed below. Estimates of population
sizes for these groups generally come from
sources other than censuses and nationally
The Baha’i faith began in Persia (now Iran)
in the 19th century. Baha’is are widely
dispersed across many countries, with
significant populations in India, the United
States, Kenya and elsewhere. The Baha’i
International Community reports more
than 5 million adherents.
Jainism originated in India and dates back
to at least the 6th century B.C.E. Today,
the vast majority of Jains live in India,
though significant numbers also are found
among Indian immigrant communities in
Kenya, the United States, Canada and the
United Kingdom. The 2001 Indian census
enumerated more than 4 million Jains
in India, but some Jains have contended
that number is a substantial undercount.
According to estimates by the World
Religion Database, there are fewer than
250,000 Jains outside India.
Shintoism is a Japanese faith that has been
part of religious life in Japan for many
centuries. Although Shinto rituals are
widely practiced in Japan, only a minority
of the Japanese population identifies with
Shintoism in surveys. The World Religion
Database estimates there are almost 3
million Shintoists worldwide, with the vast
majority concentrated in Japan.
Sikhism was founded at the turn of the
16th century by Guru Nanak in the Punjab,
a region now split between India and
Pakistan. More than nine-in-ten Sikhs are
in India, but there are also sizable Sikh
communities in the United Kingdom, the
United States and Canada. The World
Religion Database estimates there are a
total of about 25 million Sikhs worldwide.
Taoism (also known as Daoism)
traditionally is said to have been founded
in the 6th century B.C.E. by Chinese
philosopher Lao Tzu. Adherents live
predominantly in China and Taiwan. The
World Religion Database estimates there
are more than 8 million Taoists.
Tenrikyo was founded in the 19th century
by Nakayama Miki in Japan. The faith is
one of many new Japanese religions; others include Shinreikyo, Mahakari, Omoto
and PL Kyodan. Reliable estimates of the
number of followers of Tenrikyo and other
new Japanese religions are not available.
Wicca is a Pagan or neo-Pagan religion that
gained popularity in the 20th century. It
is practiced mostly in the United Kingdom
and the United States. Reliable estimates of
the number of Wiccans around the world
are not available.
Zoroastrianism traditionally is said to have
been founded by Zarathustra in Persia
sometime before the 6th century B.C.E.
Adherents live mainly in India and Iran.
The World Religion Database estimates
there are about 200,000 Zoroastrians
Other faiths in the “other religions” category
include Cao Dai, I-Kuan Tao, Mandaeism,
the Rastafari movement, the Rātana
movement, Scientology and Yazidism, to list
just a few.