• Proper understanding definition of the terms demographics and geography as it applies specifically to this religion
    • Demographics are "the statistical characteristics of human populations (as age or income) used especially to identify markets."
    • Geography is "the geographic features of an area."


    • What is the membership in actual numbers and percent to other religions.
      • There are approximately 360 million Buddhists worldwide.
      • Compared to other world religions, Buddhism represents 6% of the world's population.
      • Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.



    World Religions
    Number of Adherents
    2 billion
    1.3 billion
    900 million
    850 million
    360 million
    Chinese traditional religion
    225 million
    190 million
    Yoruba religion
    20 million
    19 million
    18 million
    15 million
    14 million
    Babi and Bahai faiths
    6 million
    4 million
    4 million
    Cao Dai
    3 million
    2.4 million
    1 million
    800 thousand
    750 thousand
    700 thousand
    150 thousand
    • Breakdown population and membership by sect or denomination.
      • Mahayana Buddhism, which emphasizes compassion, service, and emptiness, has existed since the 1st century B.C. and is the largest sect of the three branches of Buddhism.  It represents 56% of Buddhists worldwide.
      • Theravada Buddhism, which emphasizes a strict and solitary religious life, is the oldest school of Buddhism and represents 38% of Buddhists worldwide.
      • Tibetan Buddhism, which is a combination of Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana (type of Buddhism connected with Hundu Tantric practice), is the smallest denomination of Buddhism and represents only 6% of Buddhists worldwide.
      • Some modern popular sects of Buddhism are Pure Land, Nichiren, and Zen, which is one of the most well-known forms in America.  

    • Is membership simply a matter of application or is it connected to ethnicity (national or cultural tradition)?
      • Anyone can become a Buddhist by following the path of Buddha.  Unlike Catholicism and other Christian denominations, Buddhism does not require its members to undergo certain sacraments, such as Baptism, in order to enter into their faith. 
        • "Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha, someone who has completely purified his or her mind of all faults and limitations and has brought all good qualities to perfection. Our mind is like a cloudy sky, in essence clear and pure but overcast by the clouds of delusions." (
      • In order to be ordained as a Buddhist Monk, one must first be a Novice monk (generally children) and then they can become a full member of Sangha (the order of Monks) by taking vows to abandon activities that Buddha abandoned.
      • All lay and monastic Buddhists vow the following:
        • Not to kill.
        • Not to steal.
        • Not to act in an unchaste manner.
        • Not to speak falsely.
        • Not to take intoxicants.
      • In addition to the above precepts, Monks also vow:
        • Not to eat at times not appointed.
        • Not to view entertainments deemed as "secular."
        • Not to wear perfumes or bodily ornaments.
        • Not to sleep in beds that are too high or too wide.
        • Not to accept money.
      • Although Buddhism originated in India and is dominant in many Asian countries, it is not required that its followers be of these ethnicities.


    • What is the breakdown of this religion by continent and by country?
      • Buddhism is mainly practiced in the continent of Asia.
      • Buddhism has spread to almost every country worldwide and is predicted to continue to grow.  It is becoming more and more popular in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
      • China has the greatest population of Buddhists.
      • Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar have the greatest proportion of Buddhists.


    Page Edited by Rachel Casciano