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 554,226,615 5% 27,711,331
Japan 101,714,862 5% 5,085,743
Thailand 63,659,977 99% 63,023,377
India 40,694,537 75% 30,520,903
Sri Lanka 14,891,260 99% 14,742,347
Burma 47,933,116 99% 47,453,785
Cambodia 14,378,411 99% 14,234,626
Laos 5,077,295 99% 5,026,522
Other Asian countries 234,399,786 8% 18,751,983
Total Theravada in Asia 226,550,617
U.S.A. 6,461,558 35% 2,261,545
Canada & N. Am. islands 396,708 35% 138,848
Total Theravada in N. America 2,400,393
Germany 887,574 50% 443,787
France 772,744 50% 386,372
United Kingdom 776,590 50% 388,295
Other European countries 792,964 35% 277,537
Total Theravada in Europe 1,495,991
Total Theravada in Latin America and S. Am. 951,580 35% 333,053
Total Theravada in Australia & Oceania 707,960 35% 247,786
Total Theravada in Africa 237,236 35% 83,032
Total Theravadins in the world 231,110,873

Approximately 231 million Theravada Buddhists in the world.

Last updated: January 2016

See also