PEW-Templeton, Global Religious Futures Project

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The Future of the Global Muslim Population 

The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

While the global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the non-Muslim population, the Muslim population nevertheless is expected to grow at a slower pace in the next two decades than it did in the previous two decades. From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%, compared with the projected rate of 1.5% for the period from 2010 to 2030.

These are among the key findings of a comprehensive report on the size, distribution and growth of the global Muslim population. The report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life seeks to provide up-to-date estimates of the number of Muslims around the world in 2010 and to project the growth of the Muslim population from 2010 to 2030. The projections are based both on past demographic trends and on assumptions about how these trends will play out in future years. Making these projections inevitably entails a host of uncertainties, including political ones. Changes in the political climate in the United States or European nations, for example, could dramatically affect the patterns of Muslim migration.

If current trends continue, however, 79 countries will have a million or more Muslim inhabitants in 2030, up from 72 countries today.1 A majority of the world’s Muslims (about 60%) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20% will live in the Middle East and North Africa, as is the case today. But Pakistan is expected to surpass Indonesia as the country with the single largest Muslim population. The portion of the world’s Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise; in 20 years, for example, more Muslims are likely to live in Nigeria than in Egypt. Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas, but they are expected to constitute a growing share of the total population in these regions.

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