Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Rising Restrictions on Religion – One-third of the world’s population experiences an increase

Social Hostilities Index

The following table shows all 198 countries and territories in descending order of their scores on the Pew Forum’s index of social hostilities involving religion as of mid-2009. The Pew Forum has not attached numerical rankings to the countries because there are numerous tie scores and the differences between the scores of countries that are close to each other on this table are not necessarily meaningful. This is particularly the case at the low end of the scale: The range of scores among the 40 countries in the Very High (top 5%) and high (next 15%) categories is greater than the range of scores among the 115 countries in the Low (bottom 60%) category.

Very High top 5% of scores

Scores from 7.2 to 8.3
Iraq Somalia Israel
India Indonesia Egypt
Pakistan Nigeria
Afghanistan Bangladesh

High Next 15% of scores

Scores from 4.7 to 7.1
Yemen Comoros Denmark
Palestinian territories Kenya Burma (Myanmar)
Sri Lanka Russia
Saudi Arabia Turkey Thailand
Sudan Mexico Lebanon
Nepal Serbia Bulgaria
Iran Ethiopia United Kingdom
Algeria Kyrgyzstan
Syria Romania Ghana
Jordan Vietnam

Moderate Next 20% of scores

Scores from 2.5 to 4.6
Maldives Sierra Leone
Colombia Slovakia Montenegro
Germany Italy Kuwait
Georgia Liberia
Philippines Morocco Spain
Bosnia-Herzegovina Sweden
Azerbaijan Cyprus
Greece Central African Republic United States
Armenia Switzerland Australia
Kosovo Kazakhstan Burkina Faso
Belarus Uzbekistan Republic of Macedonia
France Libya
Ukraine Zimbabwe
Bahrain Papua New Guinea
Ivory Coast Poland

Low Bottom 60% of scores

Scores from 0.0 to 2.4
Croatia Argentina Palau
Canada Liechtenstein Qatar
Brunei Slovenia Solomon Islands
Hungary Zambia Peru
Angola Chile Gabon
Belgium Swaziland Botswana
Portugal El Salvador
South Africa Cameroon Republic of Congo
Tajikistan Gambia Singapore
Austria Benin Senegal
Bolivia Andorra
Venezuela Samoa Bahamas
Brazil Laos Jamaica
Burundi Bhutan Marshall Islands
Guinea Ireland Oman
Malaysia United Arab Emirates Cape Verde
Trinidad and Tobago New Zealand Malta
Iceland St. Vincent and the Grenadines Belize
Netherlands Eritrea Dominican Republic
Japan Latvia Equatorial Guinea
Kiribati Costa Rica Federated States of Micronesia
Western Sahara Paraguay Grenada
Mauritania Finland Guyana
Cuba Nauru Lesotho
Czech Republic Antigua and Barbuda Macau
Norway St. Kitts and Nevis Monaco
St. Lucia Madagascar Panama
Uganda Estonia Rwanda
Lithuania Guinea Bissau San Marino
Fiji Honduras Sao Tome and Principe
Malawi Albania Seychelles
Namibia Mali South Korea
Guatemala Nicaragua Suriname
Niger Cambodia Taiwan
Mozambique Ecuador Togo
Turkmenistan Hong Kong Tonga
Haiti Uruguay
Vanuatu Barbados
El Salvador Dominica
Northern Cyprus Luxembourg


Denotes a substantial increase from mid-2006 to mid-2009.

Denotes a substantial decrease from mid-2006 to mid-2009.

NOTE: The number of countries in each percentile range may be slightly more or less than the actual percentage because of tie scores. Substantial increase or decrease is defined as a change of at least 1.5 standard deviations above or below the mean amount of change among all 198 countries on each index. The change also had to be in the same direction over the periods studied. (See Methodology for more details.)

North Korea: The sources clearly indicate that the government of North Korea is among the most repressive in the world with respect to religion as well as other civil liberties. But because North Korean society is effectively closed to outsiders, the sources are unable to provide the kind of specific and timely information that the Pew Forum coded in this quantitative study. Therefore, the report does not include a score for North Korea on either index.

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivery Saturday mornings

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for The Briefing

Weekly updates on the world of news & information