Theravada Buddhists in the World

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There are two major divisions of Buddhism in the world; Theravada and Mahayana. The Mahayana includes Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism) and has many different forms, schools, or traditions and the majority of all Buddhists are Mahayana. This Dhamma Wiki encyclopedia focuses on early Buddhism, i.e., Theravada. Based on the number of Buddhists in the World article here at Dhamma Wiki, a rough estimate is given here as to the total number of Theravada Buddhists in the world.

This is only a rough estimate, as it is difficult to ascertain the exact numbers of Buddhists by tradition since there is considerable overlap among many Buddhists. Many follow more than one tradition and also more than one religion. For example, followers of Thich Nhat Hanh practice Theravada mindfulness, have celibate monks and nuns, but are a Mahayana Order, primarily being Zen. Or for example, some Buddhists prefer to be called Theravada, but also attend Zen centers, Vajrayana centers; or vice versa, such as a Zen practitioner who also likes Theravada, etc.

Area Buddhists Percent Theravada Theravadins
China, liberal est. 1,070,893,447 5% 53,544,672
China, conservative est. 669,308,405 5% 33,465,420
Japan 122,022,837 5% 6,101,142
Thailand 62,626,649 99% 62,000,382
India 37,913,134 75% 28,434,850
Sri Lanka 14,933,050 99% 14,783,720
Burma 43,323,967 99% 42,890,727
Cambodia 13,769,578 99% 13,631,883
Laos 5,126,207 99% 5,074,944
Other Asian countries 213,492,875 8% 17,079,430
Total Theravada in Asia, lib. est. 243,541,751
Total Theravada in Asia, cons. est. 223,462,498
U.S.A. 6,135,071 35% 2,147,275
Canada & N. Am. islands 368,447 35% 128,956
Total Theravada in N. America 2,276,231
Germany 905,657 50% 452,828
France 773,215 50% 386,607
United Kingdom 733,395 50% 366,698
Other European countries 785,700 35% 274,995
Total Theravada in Europe 1,481,128
Total Theravada in Latin America and S. Am. 868,929 35% 304,125
Total Theravada in Australia & Oceania 618,752 35% 216,563
Total Theravada in Africa 194,550 35% 68,093
Total Theravadins in the world, liberal est. 247,887,891
Total Theravada in the world, conservative est. 227,808,639

Approximately 225 million to 250 million Theravada Buddhists in the world.

Last updated: April 2010

See also