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  • 17/03/13 09.41Adherents.com: Atheist Statistics | Agnostic

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    < Return to Largest Religious Communities

    The Largest Atheist / Agnostic Populations

    Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics

    (Zuckerman, 2005)Below is a list of the top fifty countries containing the largest measured percentage of people whoidentify as atheist, agnostic, or non-believer in God. These figures do not necessarily represent the number of people who areidentify themselves as "atheists." For example, in Estonia in 2004, 49% of people surveyed said they did not believe in God. Atthe same time, only 11% of people in the country identified themselves as atheists.

    CountryTotal country

    population (2004)

    % Atheist/Agnostic/

    Nonbeliever in God

    Number of Atheists/Agnostics

    Nonbelievers in God(minimum - maximum)

    Sweden 8,986,000 46 - 85% 4,133,560 - 7,638,100

    Vietnam 82,690,000 81% 66,978,900

    Denmark 5,413,000 43 - 80% 2,327,590 - 4,330,400

    Norway 4,575,000 31 - 72% 1,418,250 - 3,294,000

    Japan 127,333,000 64 - 65% 81,493,120 - 82,766,450

    Czech Republic 10,246,100 54 - 61% 5,328,940 - 6,250,121

    Finland 5,215,000 28 - 60% 1,460,200 - 3,129,000

    France 60,424,000 43 - 54% 25,982,320 - 32,628,960

    South Korea 48,598,000 30 - 52% 14,579,400 - 25,270,960

    Estonia 1,342,000 49% 657,580

    Germany 82,425,000 41 - 49% 33,794,250 - 40,388,250

    Russia 143,782,000 24 - 48% 34,507,680 - 69,015,360

    Hungary 10,032,000 32 - 46% 3,210,240 - 4,614,720

    Netherlands 16,318,000 39 - 44% 6,364,020 - 7,179,920

    Britain 60,271,000 31 - 44% 18,684,010 - 26,519,240

    Belgium 10,348,000 42 - 43% 4,346,160 - 4,449,640

    Bulgaria 7,518,000 34 - 40% 2,556,120 - 3,007,200

    Slovenia 2,011,000 35 - 38% 703,850 - 764,180

    Israel 6,199,000 15 - 37% 929,850 - 2,293,630

    Canada 32,508,000 19 - 30% 6,176,520 - 9,752,400

    Latvia 2,306,000 20 - 29% 461,200 - 668,740

    Slovakia 5,424,000 10 - 28% 542,400 - 1,518,720

    Switzerland 7,451,000 17 - 27% 1,266,670 - 2,011,770

    Austria 8,175,000 18 - 26% 1,471,500 - 2,125,500

    Australia 19,913,000 24 - 25% 4,779,120 - 4,978,250

    Taiwan 22,750,000 24% 5,460,000

    Spain 40,281,000 15 - 24% 6,042,150 - 9,667,440

    Iceland 294,000 16 - 23% 47,040 - 67,620

    New Zealand 3,994,000 20 - 22% 798,800 - 878,680

    Ukraine 47,732,000 20% 9,546,400

    Belarus 10,311,000 17% 1,752,870

    Greece 10,648,000 16% 1,703,680

    North Korea 22,698,000 15%* 3,404,700

    Italy 58,057,000 6 - 15% 3,483,420 - 8,708,550

    Armenia 2,991,000 14% 418,740

    China 1,298,848,000 8 - 14%* 103,907,840 - 181,838,720

    Lithuania 3,608,000 13% 469,040

    Singapore 4,354,000 13% 566,020

    Uruguay 3,399,000 12% 407,880

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    Kazakhstan 15,144,000 11 - 12% 1,665,840 - 1,817,280

    Mongolia 2,751,000 9% 247,590

    Portugal 10,524,000 4 - 9% 420,960 - 947,160

    USA 293,028,000 3 - 9% 8,790,840 - 26,822,520

    Albania 3,545,000 8% 283,600

    Argentina 39,145,000 4 - 8% 1,565,800 - 3,131,600

    Kyrgyzstan 5,081,000 7% 355,670

    Dominican Republic 8,834,000 7% 618,380

    Cuba 11,309,000 7%* 791,630

    Croatia 4,497,000 7% 314,790

    Source: Zuckerman, Phil. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns", chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press:Cambridge, UK (2005).

    * NOTE: The estimates of the number of atheists in North Korea, China and Cuba may be unreliable. The best data available have been used in making these estimates, but the people in these three nations live underCommunist governments which have traditionally suppressed religious freedom and officially (often forcibly) endorsed atheism.

    Top 20 Countries With Largest Numbers of Atheists / Agnostics

    (Zuckerman, 2005)

    CountryTotal country

    population (2004)

    % Atheist/Agnostic/

    Nonbeliever in God

    Number of Atheists/Agnostics

    Nonbelievers in God(minimum - maximum)

    China 1,298,848,000 8 - 14%* 103,907,840 - 181,838,720

    Japan 127,333,000 64 - 65% 81,493,120 - 82,766,450

    Russia 143,782,000 24 - 48% 34,507,680 - 69,015,360

    Vietnam 82,690,000 81% 66,978,900

    Germany 82,425,000 41 - 49% 33,794,250 - 40,388,250

    France 60,424,000 43 - 54% 25,982,320 - 32,628,960

    USA 293,028,000 3 - 9% 8,790,840 - 26,822,520

    Britain 60,271,000 31 - 44% 18,684,010 - 26,519,240

    South Korea 48,598,000 30 - 52% 14,579,400 - 25,270,960

    Canada 32,508,000 19 - 30% 6,176,520 - 9,752,400

    Spain 40,281,000 15 - 24% 6,042,150 - 9,667,440

    Ukraine 47,732,000 20% 9,546,400

    Italy 58,057,000 6 - 15% 3,483,420 - 8,708,550

    Sweden 8,986,000 46 - 85% 4,133,560 - 7,638,100

    Netherlands 16,318,000 39 - 44% 6,364,020 - 7,179,920

    Czech Republic 10,246,100 54 - 61% 5,328,940 - 6,250,121

    Taiwan 22,750,000 24% 5,460,000

    Australia 19,913,000 24 - 25% 4,779,120 - 4,978,250

    Hungary 10,032,000 32 - 46% 3,210,240 - 4,614,720

    Belgium 10,348,000 42 - 43% 4,346,160 - 4,449,640

    Source: Zuckerman, Phil. "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns", chapter in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press:Cambridge, UK (2005).

    Top 10 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists

    (Greeley/Jagodzinski, 1991)

    Country PercentAtheist

    East Germany 88.20%

    Slovenia 29.80

    Russia 27.30

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    Israel 25.60Netherlands 24.10

    Hungary 23.30

    Norway 14.90

    Britain 14.00

    West Germany 12.10

    New Zealand 11.50

    These figures are based on responses to survey questions about beliefs. There may be overlap between people who self-identify as adherents of an organized religion, while atthe same time hold beliefs which categorize them an atheist. Opinion surveys are typically the only reliable method for determining the numbers of atheists in an area, becauseatheists are rarely affiliated formally with membership organizations. Officially released statistics from some Communist governments are often merely manufactured estimateswithout an empirical or statistical basis.

    Figures shown above are the total of "soft core atheists" (don't believe in god, but believe there might be life after death) and "hard core atheists" (disbelieve in god anddisbelieve in life after death), but do not include agnostics ("softest core atheists": "Might be God... might be a life after death").

    Note that these terms are from Greeley's statistical study and are noted here not as an endorsement of the terminology, but so that statistical researchers will be ableto identify which columns are the source of the data in the summary tables presented on this page. "Agnosticism" and "atheism" are widely accepted as have differentmeanings. Based on the questions used in the survey, Greeley's category "softest core atheists" fall under the common definition of agnostics, which is why their numbers havenot been included in the "atheist" totals.

    Note: The Communist nations of China, Cuba and North Korea were not included in this study. These countries may or may not be among the "Top 10 Most Atheist Countries"in the world. Sociologically, Communism is as much a religion as other "traditional" religions such as Islam or Christianity, although it promotes (often forcibly) beliefs whichwould categorize its adherents as atheists. So in Communist countries, large proportions of people may be properly classified as atheists and also Communists, but they wouldnot be considered secular or "nonreligious" in the sociological sense.

    Source: International Social Survey Program's study of religion in 1991, as reported in "The Demand for Religion: Hard Core Atheism and 'Supply Side' Theory" by Wolfgang Jagodzinski (University of Cologne) andAndrew Greeley (University of Chicago, University of Arizona).

    Adherents.com plans to revise the "Top 10" list presented on this page through the use of our entire collection of statistics, without relying primarily on one source (Greeley'spaper). Accurate data for China and North Korea remains unavailable. We do not believe the composition of this list will change considerably.

    We have already pointed out the possibility that North Korea and China should be on this list but were not included among countries Greeley had data for. Still, William Slawskiwrote the following criticism of this page (3 April 2000):

    The use of the term ["softest core atheists"] is carried over from the source of the statistics,which was a paper called "The Demand for Religion: Hard Core Atheismand "Supply Side" Theory."

    The abstract at the top of the paper ends with the following sentence: "Finally it considers the one thoroughly secularized country -- East Germany -- and concludesthat the 'demand' for religion can be diminished considerably if a ruthless government takes control of the process of religious socialization." The paper studied only17 countries. The Adherents.com site entitiles their web page "Top 10 Countries With Highest Percentage of Atheists (1991)." The original source of the statisticswasn't an inquiry into which countries had the highest rate of at