Churches are places of worship and are found in every country around the world. The universal appeal and presence of churches make it an exciting topic to explore, especially when you start to think about which countries have or do not have churches. This article will answer the question: Which country has the most churches? as well as the top 10 countries with The highest number of churches.
1. Vatican City
The Vatican is home to more than 1700 churches, which makes it the country with the most churches per capita. Located in Rome, Italy, Vatican City has a population of around 1000 and is considered one of the most powerful countries in the world. It’s also one of the smallest countries on Earth—a mere 44 acres!
Italy is a country with a population of 60.6 million people, making it the fourth-largest economy in Europe. It’s also the third-largest industrial nation in Europe and a founding member of the European Union. Italy has a rich cultural heritage, boasting some of the world’s greatest works of art and architecture, such as Michelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence—to name just three! If you’re into art history, then you’ll love this country!
According to the latest figures from the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics, the number of churches in Vatican City rose by 4.4% in 2023. This is the highest rate of growth since 2017, when the figure stood at 4.2%.
As the second-lowest country in Africa and the fourth-smallest on the continent, Rwanda has a total land area of 26,000 square kilometers (10,000 square miles), making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It’s also home to an estimated 11 million people—but only about 1 million are Christians. That means there are three times as many churches as citizens!
Rwanda’s history is just as fascinating as its religious makeup: At one point in time, it was considered “the Jerusalem” of Africa by some Westerners due to its large population of Catholics and Protestants who had fled from neighboring Burundi after violence broke out between Christians and Muslims there during 1967’s “Year Zero.” Rwanda experienced such intense religious tension during that year that they declared themselves officially secular when they reestablished their government after a genocide took place in 1994 wherein Hutus massacred Tutsis and moderate Hutus under orders from extremist Hutu leaders.
Churches in Rwanda have seen a slight decline in attendance due to the COVID pandemic and government interventions, as well as a decrease in giving over the past five years. In Rwanda, the decline has been even more significant, with a decrease from 23% in 2018 to 17% in 2020. Furthermore, active Christians demonstrate a higher devotion than non-active Christians, with 71% claiming membership, and that traditionalists, the oldest generation polled, possess the highest religious preference.
Spain has the highest number of churches per capita. It’s no surprise, then, that Spain also has the most churches in Europe. These churches are mostly Catholic and are found primarily in the north of Spain.
The Spanish Center for Sociological Research reports 8,919 churches in Spain, up 1.8% from 2021. 6,844 are Catholic, 1,726 Protestant, and 349 other denominations. Catholicism has dropped to 56.4% since 2021. 39.3% of Spaniards are atheists. Most religious groups register annually as non-governmental organizations in Spain, which guarantees religious freedom. Hate crimes and prejudice against religious groups, particularly Muslims and Jews, have been a serious concern in recent years.
4. Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea has the third most churches worldwide, with 1,000. The country is a sovereign state in Oceania, occupying most of the eastern half of New Guinea island and nearby smaller islands.
The United States has more than 5 times as many churches as any other country: 350,000 churches for just over 323 million people (as of 2017).
Papua New Guinea had 2,541 churches in 2022, up 3.88% from 2019. Traditional animism and ancestor worship are often practiced alongside Christianity in the country, which is predominantly Christian. The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, United Church, and Seventh-day Adventist Church are all represented in the country. 18.4% of Christians are Evangelical Lutheran.
The country of Malawi has the most churches per capita, with one church for every 132 people. The country also has a large number of churches per square mile, with 10,000 churches in total spread across its landmass. The number of churches compared to other places of worship and landmarks is staggering: there are more than 2 million in all of Africa and 4 million throughout the world.
The country’s history goes back to colonial times when missionaries built several Catholic cathedrals and chapels on their own initiative, without any government funding or support from local authorities. Before independence from Britain in 1964, Malawi was known as Nyasaland; this name comes from an African phrase meaning “the land of lakes” because it was once covered by many large lakes like Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nkhata Bay), which provides fresh water for drinking as well as for agriculture purposes such as fishing or growing crops like cassava plants used mainly for making flour paste called “baking powder.”
Most Malawians are Christians. In 2019, 83.3% were Christian. 84.4% by 2022. The biggest faiths in the country are Roman Catholic (17.2%), Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) (14.2%), Seventh-day Adventist/Assemblies of God/African Christian (13.4%), and Pentecostal (12.7%). AICs are also growing in Malawi. Malawi’s 1.5 million Muslims and churches have clashed. Muslims stoned churches in 2002 and 2006. Malawi’s government has supported churches by granting religious freedom and adopting religious organization protection laws.
Mongolia, with a population of 3 million people, is the most sparsely populated country in the world. It is a landlocked country in Asia. Mongolia has been under domination by China, Russia, and Japan throughout its history. Consequently, it has experienced a wide range of cultural influences from these countries. If you’d like to visit this ancient nation but aren’t sure where to start planning your trip and itinerary, then you’ve come to the right place! Here are some ideas for things that you can do when visiting Mongolia:
- Take a tour of the countryside – There are many different types of tours available depending on your interests; these include nature walks, horseback riding excursions, or even helicopter tours, so make sure that you check out all your options before booking anything just yet!
- Eat traditional Mongolian food – Many people enjoy trying new foods while traveling abroad, so if this sounds fun, then why not give it a try? You’ll probably find yourself getting hungry as soon as possible so keep an eye out for restaurants nearby where they serve dishes made from local ingredients such as mutton (goat meat), dairy products, or even fish!
Christianity is a minority religion in Mongolia, with the majority of the population identifying as Buddhist. According to the 2010 National Census, 41,117 Mongolians — 2.1 percent of the country’s population — adhere to Christianity. By 2022, this number had increased to 2.4 percent.
Uganda is one of the most religious countries in Africa. In fact, it has around 36,000 churches, making it the country with the third-highest number of churches in the world (after Brazil and Mexico). The majority of these congregations are evangelical and Pentecostal. In fact, Uganda has the highest number of Pentecostal churches per capita in Africa!
According to the 2014 census, the number of churches in Uganda has increased since 2010, with 84 percent of the population identifying as Christian in the country. The largest Christian groups include the Roman Catholic Church at 39 percent, the Anglican Church at 32 percent, and Pentecostal churches at 11 percent. In addition, three new churches have been completed in the country in April, 2021.
Poland is a country in Central Europe with a population of 38.5 million people. The country has over 10,000 churches.
Poland has a rich history and culture that dates back hundreds of years, from its medieval beginnings all the way up through World War II and beyond. The Polish people have a strong national pride in their culture and traditions, which are rooted in the Catholic faith they practice so devoutly. They are known for their delicious food, like pierogi (a type of stuffed dumpling), kiełbasa (sausage), bigos (hunter’s stew), and golabki (cabbage rolls). Their cuisine reflects their incredibly diverse heritage: Polish cuisine has elements from Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and German cooking styles combined with traditional Slavic recipes handed down by generations past—all smothered in the paprika sauce!
The most recent statistics estimates 15,000 churches in Poland, up from 2021. With 90% of Poles Catholic, most churches are Catholic. Protestants and other religions make up the remaining 10%. Religious organizations are registered annually as non-governmental organizations in Poland, which guarantees religious freedom. In Poland, religious intolerance and discrimination against non-Catholic religious organizations has increased. Hate crimes against minority religious groups have worried the government.
According to the latest data from the Portuguese Institute of Statistics, there are currently 6,946 churches in Portugal, an increase of 1.1% compared to 2021. The vast majority of these churches are Catholic, with 81% of the population identifying as Catholic. Other Christian denominations, such as Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity, account for 4.2% and 1.7% respectively.
There are also smaller religious groups, such as Islam and Judaism, that account for 0.5% and 0.3% respectively. Portugal has no official religion, though in the past, the Catholic Church in Portugal was the state religion. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Portuguese Constitution, and religious organizations are typically registered yearly as non-governmental organizations. There have been no reported incidents of religious intolerance or discrimination in Portugal in recent years.
The latest data estimates 6,946 churches in Portugal in 2023, up 1.1% from 2021. With 81% of the population Catholic, these churches are mostly Catholic. Protestants make up 4.2% and Orthodox Christians 1.7%.
The Vatican is the country with the most churches.
If you’re looking for the country with the most churches, your best bet is to head straight to Vatican City. With over 1700 churches, it has more churches than any other country in the world by far.
Vatican City is home to St. Peter’s Basilica, which is one of the holiest sites for Catholics and contains Michelangelo’s famous Pietà sculpture. It also has its own papal residence and palace complex known as The Apostolic Palace.
In terms of population size, Vatican City isn’t even close to being one of the biggest countries in Europe—it’s actually one of the smallest! It has less than 1 square mile (2 square kilometers) of landmass but only about 800 permanent residents who are generally diplomats or members of religious orders such as monks or nuns.
The Top 10 Countries with The Highest Number of Churches Are:
- United States – 330,000
- Brazil – 95,000
- Mexico – 60,000
- Russia – 55,000
- Philippines – 45,000
- Italy – 35,000
- Argentina – 35,000
- Germany – 34,000
- France – 30,000
- Colombia – 29,000.
The 10 countries in the Americas with the most churches are the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, the Philippines, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and Chile.
In the United States, there are over 300,000 churches, making it the country with the highest number of churches in the Americas. Brazil is second with over 170,000 churches, followed by Mexico and Russia with over 70,000 and 60,000 churches respectively. The Philippines has over 50,000 churches, while Colombia and Argentina have over 40,000 and 30,000 churches respectively. Peru, Venezuela and Chile have over 20,000, 15,000 and 10,000 churches respectively.
These 10 countries are home to over half (55%) of all the churches in the Americas. The United States is the dominant force, with nearly half (47%) of all churches in the region. Brazil is the second largest Christian country in the region with nearly a quarter (23%) of all churches in the Americas located there. Mexico, Russia and the Philippines have the third, fourth and fifth largest number of churches in the Americas respectively. Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and Chile make up the rest of the top 10.
The sheer number of churches in these 10 countries shows the strength of Christianity in the Americas. Christianity is the dominant religion in the region, with over 80% of the population in these countries identifying as Christian. This strong presence of churches in the region reflects the importance of Christianity to the millions who practice it and serves as a testament to its ability to bring people together.
We hope this blog has given you some insight into how religion is practiced around the world. If you’d like to learn more about international religions, check out our blogs on religious freedom in China.