Religions : Origins, Geographical Distribution,

(Top Posts - History - 070400)

List of current religions *and* list of early civilizations, most of
which had some form of religion.

No discredit is intended towards the Barbarians, Celtics, Goths,
Visigoths, Vikings, Mochicans, Chavins, Mongols, Heathens,
Polynesians, Aboriginees, Southeast Asians, Africans, Amer-
ican Indians, Moches, Nazcas, Gauls, Germanic tribes, Scotts,
Macedonians, Paracas, Druids, Dorians, Athenians, Byzantians,
Normans, Armeans, Brahamanas, Upanishades, Medians, Tar-
tars, Tudors, Shiites, Caliphates, Shogunates, Jesuits, Zulus,
Toltecs, Shamans, and other groups not included in the following

Suffice it to say, it's difficult to get a handle on *all* of world history
and religions and this is a somewhat modest attempt at putting all
of the information together.

Thanks to the following reference sources:

HyperHistory Online

Running Press Cyclopedia

Time Almanac 1999

Mayas - History

Olmecs - History

Aztecs - History

Incas - History

Tarascans - History

List of early civilizations/religions and current religions, in order
by start or found date (inclusive of most; apologies in advance
for not including *every* religion and civilization in history):

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Duh-I dunnoism (started with the origin of Homo sapiens sapiens
around 130,000 years ago.... just joking :)

Sumerians (started close to 5,200 years ago - ended close to 4,360
years ago)

Minoans (started close to 5,000 years ago - ended close to 3,100
years ago)

Indus Valley (started close to 5,000 years ago - ended close to 3,500
years ago)

Egyptians (started close to 4,850 years ago - ended close to 2,715
years ago, the ancient version of Egyptian civilization, that is)

Akkadians (started close to 4,350 years ago - ended close to 4,230
years ago)

China (1st origin of kings by Hsia family close to 4,200 years ago;
1st writing appears in Shang dynasty close to 3,300 years ago; Chou
kings take over Shang dynasty close to 3,000 years ago - Chou kings
told those they had conquered that they, the Chou, had ousted the
ancestors of Shang kings from heaven and that heaven was occupied
by their supreme god, a god they called "The Lord on High," who,
they said, had commanded the downfall of the Shang kings. Like
emperors in West Asia, Chou kings claimed that they ruled by
divine right. Chou rulers admitted into their pantheon of gods some
of the gods of Shang civilization... Chou rulers fell out of power
close to 2,771 years ago)

Judaism (founded close to 4,000 years ago by Hebrews)

Mayas (started close to 4,000 years ago - ended close to 500
years ago)

Assyrians (started close to 3,800 years ago - ended close to 2,889
years ago)

Babylonians (started close to 3,728 years ago - ended 3,686 years
ago; restarted 2,625 years ago - re-ended 2,539 years ago)

Hittites (started close to 3,640 years ago - ended close to 2,200
years ago)

Hinduism (founded close to 3,500 years ago by Aryan invaders of India)

Olmecans (started close to 3,200 years ago - ended close to 1,400
years ago)

Phoenicians (started close to 3,100 years ago - ended close to 2,332
years ago)

Phrygians (started close to 3,000 years ago - ended close to 2,547
years ago)

Etruscans (started close to 2,900 years ago - ended close to 2,396
years ago)

Greeks (started close to 2,900 years ago - ended close to 2,200
years ago, the ancient version of Greek civilization, that is)

Medes (started close to 2,835 years ago - ended close to 2,550
years ago)

Scythians (started close to 2,800 years ago - ended close to 2,300
years ago)

Cimmerians (founded close to 2,750 years ago - ended close to 2,500
years ago)

Lydians (founded close to 2,750 years ago - ended close to 2,547
years ago)

Shintoism (founded around 2,660 years ago in Japan)

Zoroastrianism (founded 2,600 years ago by Persian prophet Zoroaster)

Taoism (founded over 2,600 years ago in China by Lao Zi)

Confucianism (founded over 2,600 years ago by Kongzi)

Jainism (founded over 2,600 years ago by Vradhamana Mahavira)

Persians (started close to 2,559 years ago - ended close to 2,330
years ago)

Buddhism (founded 2,500 years ago by Prince Sidhartha Gautama)

Romans (started close to 2,500 years ago - ended close to 1,700
years ago)

Christianity (started ~1,950 years ago by some christ sects,
the longest surviving of which was started by Paul, based on
Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Roman and Greek hero worship,
Judaism, and a melange of other "religions/christ cults/sects"
circulating at the time)

Roman Catholic Church (started by some christ sects ~1,950
years ago)

Islam (founded close to 1,300 years ago by Mohammed)

Orthodox Churches (founded over 940 years ago)

Tarascans (started close to 900 years ago - ended close to 470 years ago)

Incas (started close to 800 years ago - ended close to 460 years ago)

Aztecs (started close to 570 years ago - ended close to 480 years ago)

Sikhism (founded over 500 years ago in India by Guru Nanak)

Church of England (founded over 460 years ago)

Lutheran Church (founded over 460 years ago)

Presbyterian Churches (founded over 460 years ago)

Baptists (founded over 390 years ago)

Unitarianism (founded over 350 years ago)

Society of Friends-Quakers (founded over 300 years ago)

Methodism (founded over 260 years ago)

Episcopal Church, offshoot of the Church of England (founded
over 210 years ago)

Church of Christ (founded over 190 years ago)

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - Mormons (founded
over 160 years ago)

Seventh-Day Adventists (founded almost 140 years ago)

Bahai Faith (founded over 130 years ago by Mirza Hosein)

Christian Science (founded over 130 years ago)

Salvation Army (founded over 130 years ago)

Jehovah's Witnesses (founded over 100 years ago)

Pentecostal Churches-Charismatic Renewal (founded almost 100 years ago)

Rastafarianism (founded over 70 years ago by Marcus Garvey's "back
to Africa" movement)

Unification Church (founded over 40 years ago by Sun Myung Moon)

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

--- --- Religions and Non-Religions, Geographically Speaking --- ---

Analysis of dominant religions and non-religions based
on a detailed key-colored map in

Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions

"Pockets" in the following data refer to ideologies shared
by at least 25 percent of inhabitants within areas of at least
1,000 square miles.

- - -

No Religion (mostly uninhabited) - Antarctica, pockets in the
rain forests of South America, large pockets in the Sahara
Desert of north Africa, pocket in far west China, large pockets
of central Australia, most of Greenland, far north Canada, and
the Arctic Circle.


Nonreligious - Most of eastern China, Korea, pocket of the
Czech Republic, Cuba, Zambia, southeast Congo, Belarus,
Ukraine, Moldavia, central Kazakhstan, and a central strip
of Russia from the northwest to the center of Russia, an area
which *excludes* north central / northeastern / eastern /
southeastern / south central / southwestern / western central


Chinese and Korean Folk Religions, including Buddhism,
Taoism, Confucianism, and folk cults - pockets of eastern
China and Korea.


Japanese Religions, including Shinto and Buddhism - Japan
and islands south and southeast of Japan.


Buddhism - Western China, Mongolia, area of central
Russia on the northwest Mongolia border, Vietnam,
Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, far north India,
and southern Sri Lanka.


Hinduism - India, Nepal, northern Sri Lanka, islands
east of India, pocket in Guyana, and pocket in islands
in the south Pacific.


Indigenous (tribal) Religions - Much of southern Africa,
southern and western Madagascar, much of northern
Alaska, northwest Canada, northern Canada, areas of
Canada north and northeast of the Great Lakes, pockets
in rain forests of South America, strip of northern Russia
running to all of eastern Russia, pockets of Australia
and islands in the Pacific Ocean.


Sikhism - Pocket of north India south of Kashmir, and
large area of south central Russia north of Kazakhstan.


Judaism - Israel and pocket in New York City area.


Islam, predominantly Sunni - All of the Middle East
*excluding* Israel / east Iraq / Iran, all of north Africa,
most of Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, pockets
in some southern African countries, pockets in Kosovo
and Bosnia, Albania, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Krygystan, south
Kazakhstan, an area of Russia east of Moscow (along
the Kazakhstan border), northwest China, Bangladesh,
Indonesia, north Madagascar, islands north of Mada-
gascar, and islands south of India.


Islam, predominantly Shi'ite - Iran, east Iraq, and pocket
in Yemen.


Independent Churches of Eastern Christianity, including
Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, East and West Syrian - large
area in Ethiopia, pocket in Egypt, and pocket in Holland.


Eastern Orthodox, including Greek and Russian Orthodox
Christianity - Greece, Serbia, Romania, pockets in east
Poland / Latvia / Lithuania, far northwest Russia along
the Finnish border, pockets in Belarus / the Ukraine /
Moldovia, west central and southwest Russia, northern
Kazakhstan, and southeast Russia along the Mongolian
and China border and in the Kamchatka Peninsula.


Roman Catholics - Most of South America and Latin
America, south and far west Texas, south and north
New Mexico, south Colorado, southern coastal area
of California, south Arizona, surrounding area of New
Orleans, pockets of the northern U.S., a large area from
Chicago up to Wisconsin, the northeast U.S., southeast
Canada, a pocket in west Alaska, Hawaii, a pocket in
Cuba, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Italy,
Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, part of Lithuania,
a pocket in Germany and the Czech Republic, pockets
in the west coast / central south area / east coast of
Africa, east central Madagascar, and islands in the Indian
and Pacific Oceans.


Protestants - most of the southern U.S. and the southern
midwest U.S.*excluding* south Texas / far west Texas /
the area around New Orleans / south Florida, most of
southern Alaska, most of west / south central / northeast
Canada, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, southwest
Greenland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland,
pockets in Germany and Hungary, Namibia, southern
Nigeria, pockets in southern parts of Africa, a pocket in
Madagascar, most of Australia, pockets in New Zealand,
and islands in the Pacific Ocean.


Christianity, undifferentiated by branch, chiefly mingled
Protestantism and Roman Catholicism with neither
predominant - Most of the U.S. with the *exceptions*
noted for Roman Catholics and Protestants above and
for Mormons below, central Canada, Germany, Holland,
pockets in Estonia and Latvia, South Africa, pockets in
south central Africa, pockets on the east and west coasts
of Australia, New Zealand, and islands in the Pacific


Mormons - Great Salt Lake area of the U.S.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

--- --- Believer/Non-Believer Populations/Percentages --- ---

From the 1999 Time Almanac, figures based on United
Nations median variant figures for mid-1996:

Christians (total) ....... 1,955,229,000 .. 33.7%  
Roman Catholic ............. 981,465,000 .. 16.9%
Protestant** ............... 404,020,000 ... 7.0%
Orthodox** ................. 218,350,000 ... 3.8%
Anglican .................... 69,136,000 ... 1.2%
Other ...................... 282,258,000 ... 4.9%

Muslims (83% Sunnis,
16% Shiites, 1% other) ... 1,126,325,000 .. 19.4%

Nonreligious (no religion,
nonbelievers, agnostics,
atheists, freethinkers,
skeptics, antireligious) . 1,109,124,000 .. 19.1%

Hindus (70% Vaishnavites,
25% Shaivites, 2% neo-
Hindus & reform Hindus) .... 793,076,000 .. 13.7%

Buddhists (56% Mahayana,
38% Theravada,
6% Tantrayana) ............. 325,275,000 ... 5.6%

Chinese Folk Religionists
(local deities, ancestor
veneration, Confucian
ethics, Taoism, universism,
divination, some Buddhist
elements) .................. 220,971,000 ... 3.8%

New Religionists (Asian
20th century new religions,
New Religious movements,
radical new crisis religions,
non-christian syncretistic
mass religions, all founded
since 1800 & most since
1945)....................... 106,016,000 ... 1.8%

Ethnic Religions ........... 102,945,000 ... 1.8%

Sikhs ....................... 19,508,000 ... 0.3%

Jews ........................ 13,866,000 ... 0.2%

Spiritists .................. 10,293,000 ... 0.2%

Baha'is ...................... 6,404,000 ... 0.1%

Confucians ................... 5,086,000 ... 0.1%

Jains ........................ 4,920,000 ... 0.1%

Shintoists ................... 2,898,000 ... ----

Other Religionists (including
70 minor world religions & a
large number of spiritist
religions, New Age religions,
quasi-religions, & religious
or mystic belief systems) .... 1,952,000 ... ----

Parsees ........................ 191,000 ... ----

Mandeans ........................ 45,000 ... ----

**Protestant & Orthodox christians consist of many groups.
The following brief listing includes distinct non-Catholic groups
with over 2,000,000 members in the United States (listed in order
by membership size), based on information from The Yearbook
of American & Canadian Churches, 1998:

Southern Baptist, United Methodist, National Baptist-USA,
Church of God in Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), Presbyterian,
National Baptist-America, African Methodist Episcopal, Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod, Episcopal, Progressive National Baptist,
National Missionary Baptist, Assemblies of God, Churches of
Christ, Orthodox Church of America