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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 who identify as atheist, agnostic, or non-believer in God. These figures do not necessarily represent the number of people who are identify themselves as "atheists." For example, in Estonia in 2004, 49% of people surveyed said they did not believe in God. At the 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
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 under Communist 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)

CountryPercent
Atheist
East Germany88.20%
Slovenia29.80
Russia27.30
Israel25.60
Netherlands24.10
Hungary23.30
Norway14.90
Britain14.00
West Germany12.10
New Zealand11.50


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 at the 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, because atheists are rarely affiliated formally with membership organizations. Officially released statistics from some Communist governments are often merely manufactured estimates without 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 and disbelieve 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 able to 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 different meanings. 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 have not 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 which would categorize its adherents as atheists. So in Communist countries, large proportions of people may be properly classified as atheists and also Communists, but they would not 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) and Andrew 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's paper). 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 Slawski wrote 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 Atheism and "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 concludes that the 'demand' for religion can be diminished considerably if a ruthless government takes control of the process of religious socialization." The paper studied only 17 countries. The Adherents.com site entitiles their web page "Top 10 Countries With Highest Percentage of Atheists (1991)." The original source of the statistics wasn't an inquiry into which countries had the highest rate of atheism, but rather the effects of oppressive governments on religion. To call the adherents.com web page misleading would be accurate.

When using statistics to make a presentation, it is often troublesome to remove them too far from the context from which they were originally presented.

The statistical incidence and classification of atheism among world religions is discussed on the Major Religions of the World page.

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This atheist/atheism geography and statistics webpage was created 4 August 1999. Last modified 27 March 2005.