Where Most Muslims Live

With parts of the Muslim world currently contending with unrest and upheaval, we wonder: Where do most of the world’s Muslims actually live?

A. Middle East/North Africa
B. Sub-Saharan Africa
C. Asia/Pacific
D. Europe

A. Middle East/North Africa is not correct.

Muslim communities in the Middle East and North Africa attract a great deal of international attention, due in large part to the high-profile conflict between Israelis and Palestinians — as well as pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt. However, with a total of 322 million Muslims, only 20% of the world's Muslim population lives in the region, according to a new analysis from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Most countries in the region are overwhelmingly Muslim. In some, such as Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, almost 100% of the people are adherents of Islam.

B. Sub-Saharan Africa is not correct.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 15% of the world's Muslim population. The country in the region with the largest Muslim population is Nigeria, where 76 million Muslims live, accounting for 48% of the country's population.

In Nigeria, there is a fierce — and sometimes bloody — rivalry for dominance between Islam in the country's north, and Christianity in the south, with the city of Jos a focal point.

C. Asia/Pacific is correct.

The overwhelming majority of the world's Muslims — 62% — live in the Asia/Pacific region. The countries with the largest Muslim populations are Indonesia (205 million), Pakistan (178 million), India (177 million) and Bangladesh (149 million).

Muslims today account for 23% of the world's population. While there is often talk about how quickly the Muslim population is increasing, Muslims' projected share of the global population is expected to rise only slightly — reaching 26% in 2030. The world’s Muslim population is forecast to increase from 1.6 billion today to 2.2 billion in 2030 — or about double India's current population size.

D. Europe is not correct.

The recent wave of Muslim immigration to Europe has generated heated political debate in Europe on issues like integration policy. However, less than 3% of the world's Muslim population lives in Europe — a percentage predicted to remain stable between now and 2030. Muslims comprise 6% of Europe's population today — a figure forecast to grow to 8% by 2030.

Even though only a small fraction of the world's Muslims are in Europe, the continent still has over eight times as many Muslims as the Americas, where a mere 0.3% of the global Muslim population lives.

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