- Buddhism by country
right|300px|thumb|Percentage of formal/practicing Buddhists by the numbers of registered adherents (according to the least estimates).
Obtaining exact numbers of practicing Buddhists can be difficult and may be reliant on the definition used. Adherents of
Eastern religionssuch as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoand traditional religions or Shamanism, animismoften have beliefs comprised of a mix of religious ideas [ [http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/texts/lopez.html Chinese Cultural Studies: The Spirits of Chinese Religion] ] [ [http://asia.msu.edu/eastasia/China/religion.html Windows on Asia - Chinese Religions] ] [ [http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/religion Religions and Beliefs in China] ] [ [http://www.sacu.org/religion.html SACU Religion in China] ] [ [http://www.index-china.com/index-english/people-religions-s.html Index-China Chinese Philosophies and religions] ] [ [http://www.askasia.org/teachers/essays/essay.php?no=16 AskAsia - Buddhism in China] ] [ [http://www.globaled.org/curriculum/china/bessay1.htm BUDDHISM AND ITS SPREAD ALONG THE SILK ROAD] ] . While only a small proportion of the population may have taken the formal step of going for refuge (about 400 million), many more may practice an informal Buddhism or hold Buddhist beliefs mixed with those of related religions. This is particularly the case in East Asia, where Buddhism has long been practiced alongside Taoism and Confucianism in an arrangement sometimes known as the "Triple Religion" or "Great Religion" [ [http://www.seanetwork.org/article.php?story=20041020143036414 "Counting the Buddhist World Fairly," by Dr. Alex Smith] ] . The Religion in China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea; Vinegar tasters; Sinosphere; Neo-Confucianism; East Asian Buddhismand Buddhism and Eastern teachingarticles discuss this phenomenon in greater detail.
The estimations on the number of Buddhist in the world vary significantly, according to different sources available [ U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2004; Adherents.com; Garfinkel, Perry. “Buddha Rising.” National Geographic DEC. 2005:88 - 109.; [https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/xx.html#People The CIA World Factbook] ] , between over 1.5 billion [ Gary Gach. " The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism ". Alpha, 2004. ISBN 1592572774. ] [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=N-83TWlTjU8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+complete+idiot%27s+guide+to+understanding+buddhism&sig=80pXOr5k9jspSzBk_xni0KSuI8s books.google.com - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism, by Gary Gach] ] [http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/forum/story/2008/03/080323_tibet_analysis.shtml BBC Vietnamese - Tây Tạng một cái nhìn toàn cục] ] and over 350 million [ [http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html#Buddhism adherents.com] ] . However, it was difficult to estimate accurately the number of Buddhists because they did not have congregational memberships and often did not participate in public ceremonies. [ [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71338.htm U.S. Department of States - International Religious Freedom Report 2006: China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)] ]
An additional challenge in gathering accurate estimates regarding Buddhist adherents in many Asian countries is the presence of national governments (often Communist) that are hostile either to religion generally or to Buddhism specifically. Government policies in these countries may encourage the under-reporting or non-reporting of religious adherence, resulting in official totals that may drastically under-estimate the number of religious practitioners in these countries. This phenomenon is a confounding factor in gathering data for countries such as China and North Korea. Similar historical policies, coupled with shortcomings of infrastructure, make census data for Laos and Vietnam difficult to assess [ [http://www.opendemocracy.net/pix/home/stateattitudes.pdf
openDemocracy.net- 'The Atlas of Religion,' Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer: State Attitudes to Religion] ] [ [http://crf.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=survey_files Center for Religious Freedom - Survey Files] ] [ [http://crf.hudson.org/articledocs/TheRangeofReligiousFreedom.doc The Range of Religious Freedom] ] .
Most of the Buddhists live in
Asia, and the provisional state of the numbers in governments who evolve from the Communism forces a constant revision, although each new annual revision shows an increase the very significant discharge of the Buddhism. The main reason for this enormous discrepancy in the present numbers is the combination of three types different from difficulties to give to a Chinese number on , the greatest country of population in Worldrecently. The Buddhism has a very important historical root in those countries, nevertheless is officially an atheistcountry, in which in addition it practices syncretist a very heterogeneous traditional religion popular and that, among others, it includes Buddhist elements, and that frequently are listed separately.
A recent study of the Global for Center the Study of the Chinese Contemporary made in the 2005 [ " Changing Beliefs in Chinese Urban 1995-2005 " [http://www.wun.ac.uk/chinacenter/seminars/archives/05_06_program/seminar5.html wun.ac.uk] ] reveals the little reliability of the previous data, simultaneously it says 52% of the Chinese still refuse to answer direct questions on their religious affiliation. Taking this in account, in 1995 only a 2% openly admitted to belong to some religion, in the 2005 5% did. Although on the other hand, 23% of Chinese to have trusted in Buddha during year. All this contradictory data gives an idea that it will be the own evolution in the opening in the Chinese society the one that will be polishing these numbers.
Top 20 by population on the left and by percentage on the right.
List of religious populations
Religions by country
Islam by country
Judaism by country
Hinduism by country
Christianity by country
Sikhism by country
*No Faith by Country
* The US State Department's "International Religious Freedom Report 2006" [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/]
* "CIA FactBook" [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/]
* "adherents.com" [http://www.adherents.com/Na/Na_82.html#614]
* "Religious Freedom page" [http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/nationprofiles/]
* "Religious Intelligence" [http://www.religiousintelligence.co.uk/]
* "census.gov" [http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/idbrank.pl]
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