Many countries turned to the scientific method and embraced atheism, nontheism, and apatheism. As you will notice, there is no clear pattern, though European studies suggest that countries with economic growth are losing their religion more rapidly. The situation in the East is just as interesting, so with that in mind, take a look at some of the most atheistic countries in the world.
People’s Republic of China
The country that gave the world Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism is mostly unreligious. Partly, that is due to China’s unitary one-party ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. This does not mean that the people of China do not cherish their spirituality, though in much less obvious ways than people in other countries.
The third largest economy’s population is primarily irreligious. Many Japanese people hold onto their traditional philosophies, but the majority are not religious in the Western sense of the word.
Republic of Estonia
The Baltic country is consistent with its no religious affiliation. Around 60 percent of people do not practice religion, and those who do are primarily Christians. The country is doing reasonably well despite being one of the smallest economies in the world.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Around 70 percent of North Koreans are not religious. The rest are divided between Chondoism, Shamanism, and a small percentage of Buddhism. According to one of the State Department reports, Christians were considered the “most dangerous political class of people, and the persecution is violent and intense.”
This Central European country enjoys a relatively high per capita income due to the car industry and nuclear power plants. In the first half of the XX century, around 90 percent of the population were Christians. As of 2021, less than 12% of the population identified with Christianity, mainly Catholicism, while another 10 percent belonged to other religions. Around seven in ten Czechs are religiously unaffiliated.
This highly developed country has seen a rise in Christianity and a revival of Buddhism. However, 60% of its citizens identify with no religion. Like many countries in this region, spirituality is present in everyday life, but it is more about upholding traditions than believing in one religion.
Several of the happiest nations in the world are also mostly atheists or hold little regard for religion. The Netherlands is one of them, with 58% of its people labeling themselves as irreligious. The Dutch, however, believe in ecology, work-life balance, strong family ties, and acceptance of diversity.
One of the largest economies and the most developed countries, France has a rich history, but when it comes to religion, things are only going downhill. Projections show that the irreligious population will continue its growth in the upcoming decades.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is also a European country with a rich history and powerful impact worldwide. Over 31 percent of its people are religiously unaffiliated, and that comes as no surprise if you look at the country’s history and relationship with the Catholic church. The British royals are the head of the Church of England, a Protestant Anglican church, and they’ve been a part of this religion since the XVI century.
The country embraces diversity, so it comes as no surprise that Australians are not that invested in religion. The believers are primarily members of Anglican and Catholic churches, though the country recognizes over 100 religions.
Around 42 percent of Germans are non-religious, and among them, 12 percent are atheists. Most Germans say religion has no significance in their lives, with only 33 percent believing that higher powers have an effect on their lives.
Irreligion is common in Sweden, and a 2023 Gallup International Survey 2023 confirmed the nation has the highest percentage of citizens who do not believe in God. For most citizens, religion is not important, so much so that in 2016, Sweden became the first country to open neutral cemeteries.
Around 50 percent of Danish people are not religious, with only 30 percent stating they believe in God or a higher power. Approximately 20 percent are undecided, though over 70 percent are registered at the Church of Denmark. Denmark is open to all religions, and like other Scandinavian countries, it prides itself on being open-minded and accepting.