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 722,108,054 5% 36,105,403
Japan 50,420,322 5% 2,521,016
Thailand 66,453,308 99% 65,788,774
India 45,285,794 75% 33,964,345
Sri Lanka 15,048,117 99% 14,897,636
Burma 46,585,110 99% 46,119,259
Cambodia 16,438,045 99% 16,273,664
Laos 5,165,551 99% 5,113,895
Other Asian countries 231,628,366 8% 18,530,269
Total Theravada in Asia 239,314,262
U.S.A. 6,658,301 35% 2,330,406
Canada & N. Am. islands 418,747 35% 146,561
Total Theravada in N. America 2,476,967
Germany 922,905 50% 461,453
France 785,114 50% 392,557
United Kingdom 818,485 50% 409,243
Other European countries 796,881 35% 278,908
Total Theravada in Europe 1,542,161
Total Theravada in Latin America and S. Am. 989,763 35% 346,417
Total Theravada in Australia & Oceania 1,122,413 35% 392,844
Total Theravada in Africa 274,696 35% 96,144
Total Theravadins in the world 244,168,795

Approximately 244 million Theravada Buddhists in the world.

Last updated: June 2021

See also