LOS ANGELES — With the Christmas season under way, a new study finds that the Christian percentage of the world's population has remained fairly steady over the last century but that its distribution has changed dramatically, with just 25 percent now found in Europe, a slightly higher percentage than in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study by the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that there are 2.18 billion Christians in the world, about one-third of the estimated 6.9 billion global population. About 37 percent of those Christians are in the Western Hemisphere.
In 1910, about two-thirds of Christians lived in Europe, where the majority had resided for a millennium. But as Christianity has grown in other parts of the world, the population has seen a shift.
The Christian percentage of the population in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 9 percent in 1910 to 63 percent in 2010 and in the Asia-Pacific region it went from 3 percent to 7 percent. This includes China, where the researchers estimate 5 percent of the population is Christian, mostly Protestant or Catholic.
The lowest concentration of Christians is found in the regions where the faith began: the Middle East and North Africa, where Christians are about 4 percent of the population.
The analysis, "Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Christian Population," is available on the group's website."