Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spiritual Check: Religions around Asia

Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, with millions of different peoples following a wide variety of different religions. As a melting pot of culture, Asia is the birthplace of most of the world's mainstream religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastranism, as well as many other religions. When traveling Asia, you should be careful in recognizing the religion of the place you are visiting. Westhill Consulting Travel and Tours has listed the top religions in the region:


Hinduism is the majority religion in India, Nepal, and the Indonesian island of Bali, with strong minorities in the Asian nations of Bhutan, Fiji, Jakarta Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka with approximately 1 billion followers. Before the arrival of Buddhism and Islam in Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia, Hinduism (and Shaivism in particular) was the most widely practiced religion in Southwest Asia and Southeast Asia

Hinduism as we know it can be subdivided into a number of major currents. The main divisions of Hinduism are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Smartism and Shaktism. The vast majority of present day Hindus can be categorized under one of these four groups, although there are many other, partly overlapping, allegiances and denominations.


Buddhism is the fourth largest world religion and the 3rd largest in Asia. It is dominant and the majority in Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Tibet, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. According to reviews, Large Buddhist populations live in China (18.2%), Japan (36.2%), Taiwan (35%), Macau (17%), North Korea (13.8%), Vietnam (10%),Singapore (33%),Hong Kong (15%) and South Korea (22.9%). It also has strong minorities in India, Indonesia (which practiced it widely and considered it the major religion in Jakarta), Malaysia, Brunei, Nepal and Russia. Buddhism was founded by Siddartha Gautama, also known as Buddha.


Christianity is a widespread minority religion in Asia with more than 286 million adherents according to Pew Research Center in 2010, and nearly 364 million according to Britannica Book of the Year 2014 constituting around 12.6% of the total population of Asia.

Asian countries with large Christian populations are China (68 million), India (24 million), Indonesia (23 million), Kazakhstan (16.5 million), South Korea (15 million), Vietnam (7 million), Georgia (4.6 million), Armenia (3.2 million), Malaysia (2.6 million), Japan (2.5 million), Pakistan (2.5 million), Uzbekistan (2.5 million), Syria (1.8 million), Sri Lanka (1.5 million) and Taiwan (one million).

There are still large ancient communities of Middle Eastern Christians and Arab Christians in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine numbering more than 3 million in West Asia. There are also a large populations of expatriate workers which include a sizeable Christian communities live in Arabian Peninsula numbering more than 3 million.

Asia is also home of other unnamed sects and even fraud religions with thousands of followers so better be careful when you run along with them when traveling.

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