List of Buddhist Countries Worldwide

Welcome to our exploration of Buddhist countries around the world. Buddhism is a global religion that has a profound influence on the lives of millions of people. From its origins in Asia to its spread across other continents, Buddhism continues to shape cultures, traditions, and beliefs. In this article, we will take a closer look at the countries where Buddhism is practiced, from those where it is the majority religion to places where it is a significant minority.

To get started, let’s delve into the distribution of Buddhism and discover the diverse landscapes of Buddhist countries. From the spiritual heartlands of Asia to the emerging communities worldwide, we’ll journey through the rich tapestry of Buddhist cultures and traditions. So, let’s embark on this enlightening adventure together.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buddhism is a global religion with a significant presence in many countries worldwide.
  • Asia is the birthplace of Buddhism and is home to the majority of Buddhists.
  • Southeast Asia and East Asia have strong Buddhist populations, with Buddhism being the majority religion in several countries.
  • Tibet and the Himalayan region have a unique form of Buddhism known as Vajrayana Buddhism.
  • Buddhism has also spread to other parts of the world, contributing to religious diversity.

Now, let’s delve deeper into the magnificent world of Buddhist countries and uncover the beauty and wisdom they hold.

Buddhism in Asia

Asia is the birthplace of Buddhism and remains the region with the highest concentration of Buddhists in the world. Numerous countries in Asia practice Buddhism, with some having it as their official religion. These countries embrace Buddhism as a core aspect of their culture and traditions, shaping the daily lives of their inhabitants.

Among the countries where Buddhism is most practiced is Bhutan, where it is the official religion. The Buddhist way of life is deeply ingrained in Bhutanese society, with monasteries and prayer flags scattered across the picturesque landscape.

Cambodia is another predominantly Buddhist country in Asia. The ancient temples of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stand as a testament to the rich Buddhist heritage of the country. The practice of Buddhism is deeply rooted in Cambodian culture and plays a significant role in shaping societal norms and rituals.

Myanmar, with its majestic pagodas and devout Buddhist population, exemplifies the influence of Buddhism in the country. Buddhism is the majority religion in Myanmar, and its teachings are an integral part of daily life.

In Sri Lanka, Buddhism has long been established as the major religion. The country boasts a rich Buddhist heritage, with ancient temples, shrines, and monastic institutions dotting the landscape. Buddhists in Sri Lanka follow the Theravada tradition.

Thailand is renowned for its vibrant Buddhist culture and practices. Buddhism is the official religion of the country, and the majority of Thais are Buddhists. Temples, or “wats,” are prominent features of the Thai landscape, serving as places of worship, meditation, and community gatherings.

Other countries in Asia, such as China, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, and South Korea, also have significant Buddhist populations. Each of these countries has a unique cultural and historical relationship with Buddhism, and the religion has permeated various aspects of their societies.

Buddhism in China

China, with its vast population, has the largest number of Buddhists in the world. Buddhism has a deep-rooted history in China, dating back centuries. The teachings of Buddhism have influenced Chinese philosophy, art, literature, and medicine.

Buddhism in Japan

Japan is renowned for its diverse Buddhist traditions. Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Nichiren Buddhism are among the major schools of Buddhism practiced in Japan. The country’s temples and gardens provide serene spaces for meditation and reflection.

Buddhism in Mongolia

In Mongolia, Buddhism holds a special place in the hearts of its people. The country’s landscape is adorned with monasteries, stupas, and prayer flags. Buddhism’s presence is deeply ingrained in Mongolian culture, and rituals and ceremonies are part of everyday life.

Buddhism in Nepal

Nepal is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The country is known for its numerous sacred Buddhist sites, including Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Nepalese people practice various forms of Buddhism, including both Theravada and Vajrayana traditions.

Buddhism in South Korea

In South Korea, Buddhism has a rich history and plays a vital role in shaping the nation’s cultural and spiritual landscape. Buddhist temples, such as Bulguksa and Haeinsa, are revered for their architectural beauty and tranquil surroundings. Many South Koreans incorporate Buddhist practices into their daily lives.

Buddhism in Asia

The image above showcases the diverse landscape of Buddhism in Asia, with sacred sites, temples, and iconic structures representing the rich heritage of the religion in the region.

Buddhism in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, Buddhism is deeply rooted and widely practiced, making it a significant part of the region’s cultural fabric. Countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam are known for their high percentage of Buddhists, with Buddhism being the majority religion in these nations. The distribution of Buddhism in Southeast Asia reflects the enduring influence of this ancient tradition on the beliefs, values, and way of life of the people in these countries.

One of the distinguishing aspects of Buddhism in Southeast Asia is its rich heritage, which is evident in the numerous ancient temples and sacred sites found throughout the region. These architectural marvels serve as a testament to the deep spiritual connection that Buddhism holds for the people in Southeast Asia.

Buddhism plays a central role in the lives of individuals and communities in Southeast Asia, shaping their perspectives and guiding their actions. The teachings of Buddhism provide a framework for ethical conduct, mindfulness, and the pursuit of enlightenment. This spiritual path offers solace, guidance, and a profound understanding of the nature of existence.

Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia

Theravada Buddhism is the dominant form of Buddhism practiced in Southeast Asia. It emphasizes the original teachings of the Buddha and places a strong emphasis on meditation, personal cultivation, and the attainment of nirvana.

  • Cambodia: With its awe-inspiring Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia’s deep-rooted Buddhist traditions and practices are visible in the everyday lives of its people. Buddhists in Cambodia follow Theravada Buddhism, and the majority of the population identifies as Buddhists.
  • Laos: Buddhism is an integral part of Laotian culture, providing spiritual guidance and shaping the moral fabric of society. Numerous monasteries and temples can be found across the country, serving as centers for religious practice and community gatherings.
  • Myanmar: Buddhism holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Myanmar. The country is home to countless pagodas and monasteries, with the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon being one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
  • Thailand: Known as the “Land of Smiles,” Thailand is renowned for its vibrant Buddhist culture. Thai people embrace Buddhism as a way of life, and it permeates every aspect of their society. The country boasts many exquisite temples and hosts numerous religious ceremonies and festivals throughout the year.
  • Vietnam: Buddhism has a rich and complex history in Vietnam, interwoven with indigenous traditions and influenced by Chinese and Zen Buddhist teachings. The country’s temples and pagodas are a testament to the enduring presence of Buddhism in Vietnamese culture.

As Buddhism continues to evolve and adapt to modern times, Southeast Asia remains a stronghold of this ancient tradition. The widespread practice of Buddhism in the region is a testament to its enduring appeal and the profound impact it has on the lives of millions of people.

Buddhism in Southeast Asia

The Enduring Legacy of Buddhism in Southeast Asia

The enduring legacy of Buddhism in Southeast Asia encompasses not only religious practices but also various aspects of arts, architecture, literature, and everyday life. Buddhist teachings have shaped the region’s cultural, social, and moral frameworks, fostering compassion, mindfulness, and a sense of interconnectedness among individuals and communities.

The distribution of Buddhism in Southeast Asia serves as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of this ancient tradition. Despite historical ups and downs, Buddhism has thrived and continued to provide spiritual guidance and solace to millions of people in the region.

Buddhism in East Asia

East Asia is home to a vibrant and thriving Buddhist community, with several countries practicing Buddhism as their main religion. Let’s explore some of the countries in East Asia where Buddhism is most popular and widely practiced.


China has the largest population of Buddhists in the world, with approximately 244 million followers. Buddhism has a long and rich history in China, dating back to the Han Dynasty over 2,000 years ago. It has become deeply integrated into Chinese culture, influencing various aspects of society, including art, literature, and philosophy.


Japan is renowned for its strong Buddhist tradition. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the 6th century and has since evolved into various schools and sects. Zen Buddhism, in particular, has had a significant impact on Japanese culture, emphasizing meditation and mindfulness practices. Many famous temples and shrines, such as Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, attract millions of tourists and pilgrims every year.

South Korea

South Korea also has a significant Buddhist population. Buddhism arrived in Korea around the 4th century and played a crucial role in shaping the country’s history and culture. Many Buddhist temples and monasteries, such as Bulguksa and Haeinsa, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, representing the country’s strong Buddhist heritage. Buddhist rituals and ceremonies continue to be an integral part of Korean society.


Taiwan, too, has a significant presence of Buddhism. The island nation has a diverse Buddhist population, with various schools and traditions. Buddhism in Taiwan is known for its engagement in charitable and social welfare activities, with many Buddhist organizations actively involved in community services.

CountryNumber of Buddhists
China244 million
Japan73 million
South Korea22 million
Taiwan11 million

As the table shows, China has the highest number of Buddhists in East Asia, followed by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. These countries are known for their rich Buddhist heritage and continue to practice Buddhism in its various forms.

Buddhist Temple in East Asia

Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayas

Tibet and the Himalayan region boast a unique form of Buddhism called Vajrayana Buddhism. This branch of Buddhism is widely practiced in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and parts of India and Mongolia. Tibetan Buddhism is known for its emphasis on meditation practices, tantric rituals, and the recognition of spiritual leaders known as lamas.

The Himalayan region is a sanctuary for numerous monasteries and sacred sites, attracting Buddhist practitioners and tourists from around the world. The breathtaking landscapes, snow-capped peaks, and serene surroundings provide an ideal setting for contemplation and spiritual exploration.

One of the most significant aspects of Tibetan Buddhism is its connection to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and is revered by millions of followers worldwide. His teachings on compassion, mindfulness, and inner peace have made a profound impact on people’s lives and expanded the reach of Buddhism beyond the Himalayan region.

buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayas

With its vibrant monastic traditions, intricate rituals, and profound teachings, Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayas continues to inspire and guide individuals on their spiritual journey. This region stands as a testament to the enduring power and relevance of Buddhism in the modern world.

Buddhism in Other Parts of the World

Buddhism, originating in Asia, has also spread to various parts of the world, becoming a global phenomenon. While the majority of Buddhist practitioners are found in Asian countries, Buddhism has gained followers in other regions through migration and the dissemination of its teachings and practices.

Today, countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States, and several European nations have thriving Buddhist communities and temples. These places have embraced Buddhism, and it has become an integral part of their religious landscape.

Although the Buddhist population in these countries may not be as substantial as in Asia, its presence has contributed to the diversity of religious traditions in these nations. The teachings of Buddhism have resonated with individuals seeking spiritual insights, mindfulness practices, and a path towards personal enlightenment.

The Influence of Buddhism Worldwide

The global presence of Buddhism reflects its universal appeal and the transformative power it holds for individuals seeking peace, harmony, and inner growth. Buddhism’s influence is not limited by borders or geographic boundaries; it has transcended cultural differences, attracting followers from various backgrounds.

From bustling cities to serene countryside, Buddhist communities and practitioners can be found in different parts of the world. These individuals, through their dedication to Buddhist principles, contribute to creating a more compassionate, understanding, and interconnected global community.

Buddhism offers a profound path towards spiritual awakening, inner peace, and the cultivation of wisdom and compassion. Today, its reach extends far beyond its Asian roots, embracing people from all walks of life, cultures, and continents. The teachings of Buddhism have the power to inspire and transform lives, fostering a more compassionate and enlightened world.

where is buddhism practiced today

Countries with the Highest Percentage of Buddhists

Certain countries have a higher percentage of Buddhists compared to others. According to the Pew Research Center, Cambodia has the highest percentage of Buddhists, with 96.8% of its population identifying as Buddhists. Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Mongolia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea are also among the countries with a significant Buddhist population. These countries have a strong Buddhist influence, with Buddhist traditions and practices deeply ingrained in their societies.

Take a look at the table below to see the top ten countries with the highest percentage of Buddhists:

CountryPercentage of Buddhists
Sri Lanka70.2%
South Korea22.9%

Buddhism Population Map

This Buddhism population map visually represents the distribution of Buddhists worldwide. As you can see, the countries mentioned in the table stand out with their high percentages of Buddhist populations. Buddhism holds significant influence in these regions, shaping cultural practices, religious traditions, and the daily lives of millions of people.

Countries with the Highest Number of Buddhists

When it comes to the total number of Buddhists in each country, China stands out with an estimated 254.7 million followers, representing almost half of the world’s Buddhist population. The influence and practice of Buddhism in China have a significant impact on the global Buddhist community.

Other countries also have substantial Buddhist populations, contributing to the overall worldwide followers of Buddhism. These countries include:

  • Thailand
  • Myanmar
  • Japan
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Korea
  • India
  • Malaysia

These nations not only have a significant number of Buddhists but also play a crucial role in the spread and practice of Buddhism globally. Each country’s unique cultural and historical context contributes to a diverse and vibrant Buddhist community.

buddhism population map

Exploring the distribution of Buddhism by country provides valuable insights into the global reach and influence of this ancient and profound tradition. As Buddhism continues to evolve and adapt in different cultural contexts, its teachings and practices inspire millions of individuals worldwide.


Buddhism is a profound and influential global religion that spans across numerous countries, transcending borders and cultures. With its origins in Asia, Buddhism has successfully propagated and taken root in various parts of the world. Today, it is practiced not only in its traditional strongholds but also in countries far beyond the borders of its birthplace.

As we have seen, many Asian countries such as Bhutan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have deep-rooted Buddhist traditions, with Buddhism being their official religion. These countries embody the essence of Buddhism, where the teachings and principles of this ancient faith are integrated into their daily lives.

Furthermore, Buddhism has also flourished in other regions of the world. Countries like Australia, Canada, the United States, and various European nations have witnessed the growth of Buddhist communities and centers. This expansion is a testament to the universal appeal of Buddhism, attracting followers from diverse walks of life who find solace and guidance in its teachings.

Today, Buddhism continues to exert a profound influence as a spiritual path that promotes personal and societal well-being and enlightenment. Regardless of the country or culture, the essence of Buddhism remains constant: the pursuit of inner peace, compassion, and the quest for wisdom. Its teachings offer a valuable perspective on the human experience, providing guidance and inspiration for those seeking a meaningful and harmonious existence.


What countries are considered Buddhist countries?

Bhutan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are some countries where Buddhism is the official religion.

Where is Buddhism most practiced?

Buddhism is primarily practiced in Asia, with countries like China, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam having significant Buddhist populations.

Which countries practice Buddhism?

Countries like Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam have Buddhist populations and practice Buddhism.

Where is Buddhism most popular today?

Buddhism is most popular in countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Mongolia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

Where is Buddhism practiced in the world?

Buddhism is practiced worldwide, with a strong presence in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Tibet, the Himalayan region, and other parts of the world like Australia, Canada, the United States, and European nations.

How many people follow Buddhism?

Approximately 535 million people practice Buddhism, accounting for 7% to 8% of the world’s population.

How many people practice Buddhism today?

Buddhism is followed by approximately 535 million people worldwide.

What are the countries with the highest percentage of Buddhists?

Cambodia has the highest percentage of Buddhists, with 96.8% of its population identifying as Buddhists. Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Mongolia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea also have significant Buddhist populations.

Which countries have the highest number of Buddhists?

China tops the list with an estimated 254.7 million Buddhists. Other countries with a significant number of Buddhists include Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, South Korea, India, and Malaysia.

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