The Most Religious of Them All

Surveys consistently show that people who live in the world's poorest countries tend to be more religious than those living in wealthier countries. However, religion also plays a prominent role in people’s lives in certain relatively affluent countries too. We wonder: Which is the most religious country in the world?

A. Bangladesh
B. Egypt
C. Congo
D. Bolivia

A. Bangladesh is correct.

More than 99% of Bangladeshis say religion plays an important part in their daily lives, making it the most religious country in the world, according to a Gallup World Poll of 114 countries. Bangladesh, a nation of 167 million, has a GDP per capita of less than $1,700. Even though its economy grew by an average of 6% a year for the past decade, it has a long way to climb up the economic ladder.

In South and East Asia, other very religious countries include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines, each in the range of 96-99%. Asia's least religious country is Japan, with only 24% of citizens saying religion is an important part of their daily lives.

B. Egypt is not correct.

In Egypt, 97% responded affirmatively to the question. The Middle East is one of the world's most religious regions. More than 90% responded affirmatively in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Territories, Bahrain, Qatar and Yemen.

The least religious Middle Eastern nation is Israel. Only 51% of Israelis say that religion is important in their daily lives.

C. Congo is not correct.

In Congo, 94% say religion is an important part of their lives. Congo is currently ranked as the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income.

African countries more religious than Congo include Niger, Djibouti, Mauritania, Burundi, Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Chad, Algeria, Zambia and Ghana. Even in the least religious African nation, South Africa, religion is an important part in the lives of 85% of respondents.

D. Bolivia is not correct.

Bolivia is among the most religious countries in the Americas, with 89% saying religion plays an important part in their lives. Other very religious countries in the Americas are Paraguay, Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador, with more than 80% responding positively.

In the United States, 65% of respondents said religion played an important part in their daily lives. Thus, while the United States is often perceived as being a religious country, it is much less religious than the world's poorest nations.

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