21st Mar 2018

Estonians least religious in the world

  • Citziens from Italy, Portugal, Poland, Romania and Greece are among the most religious in Europe (Photo: wikipedia)

Five EU members figure among the world's top 10 least religious countries, with Estonia leading the list, a new poll has shown.

Just 14 percent of Estonians answered positively to the question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" according to a poll released by Gallup earlier this week.

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Estonia is followed by Nordic countries Sweden and Denmark, where 17 and 18 percent of those asked answered positively to the same question.

The Czech Republic comes fifth at 21 percent, just after Norway (20%), while France is ninth with a quarter of French people declaring religion important in their daily life.

The UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia and Bulgaria were also among the countries where most people did not consider religion to be such an important part of their lives.

By contrast, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Romania and Greece emerged as the EU's most religious members.

However, no EU country has made it into the top 10 of the world's most religious states, led by Egypt – where all of those asked responded positively to the question, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (each on 99%).

Several other African countries, including Congo, Malawi and Senegal, as well as Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates are also on the list.

According to Gallup analysts Steve Crabtree and Brett Pehlam, the results of the poll could be partially explained by the fact that "a population's religiosity level is strongly related to its average standard of living."

Among the countries "commonly seen as part of the developed world," some 38 percent consider religion important in their daily lives, while on the other hand, "eight of the 11 countries in which almost all residents (at least 98%)" replied positively to that question, "are poorer nations in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia."

The US, where two thirds of those asked replied positively, is the most religious "rich-world" country, with Mississippi being its most devout state (85%) and Vermont the least so (42%).

"It's fascinating to note that in terms of religiosity, Americans span a range that invites comparisons to some predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and tribal societies in Southern Africa, as well as to some relatively secular nations in Europe and developed East Asia," the analysts noted.

The survey was carried in 143 countries, with an average of eight people out of 10 saying religion was an important part of their lives.

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