Atheists say the darndest things. But who would've thought the most surprising thing they've said lately is where they live. WIN/Gallup International (not associated with the D.C.-based Gallup group) conducted a poll in 2012 to discover the geographical distribution of atheists.
They discovered the preexisting data on the issue to be sparse, and so they set out to ask 50,000 people from 40 countries to rank themselves from "religious," "not religious," or "convinced atheists."
Turns out, China (47% of the population) and then Japan (31% of the population) have the highest concentrations of self-identified atheists in the world. The poll also found that 13% of global respondents identified as atheists, which is double the percentage of atheists in the U.S.
The Washington Post delves in to the data further to explain the high concentrations of China, Japan, and Germany. But another surprising statistic to emerge from the study is that 5% of Saudis identify as atheists.
This may not seem statistically significant, but atheism is a crime in Saudi Arabia and an extremely taboo topic. The Washington Post did an excellent interview with a self-proclaimed Saudi atheist who said he uses Facebook and Twitter to feel connected and debate ideas, and have to wear a mask of Muslim reverence in his daily life.
Unsurprisingly, religiosity is higher in poorer countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Armenia, and Fiji, where nine in 10 people call themselves religious.
The only exception to the overall declining religiosity in the world is Italy, a heartbeat away from the Vatican, which has seen an increase in religious sentiment since 2005.