Religion is one of the biggest forces behind community creation, as well as introducing an aspect of cultural diversity. It brings like-minded people together to share and communicate with each other. The list below are some of the top countries religious travelers should frequent to connect with people of similar faith.
Niger is a country located in West Africa with French as their native language. Almost the entire population, 90 percent, believe in the Muslim faith. Tijaniyya, Senussi and Hamalist are their most influential organizations. The holy cities are Madarounfa, Kiota, Say and Agadez noted by the Islamic communities. Many other religions aren’t properly practicing in other areas, because of their high percentage of the Muslim belief. Christians, Catholics and Protestants only cover five percent of the population, yet do carry on with their faith.
© Alfred Weidinger
2. Sri Lanka
Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island located in South Asia—their native languages are Sinhala, Tamil and English. As the biggest religion in the country, Buddhism consumes 70 percent of the population, followed by Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Buddhism is acknowledged as the highest ethical and philosophical religion from the Sinhalese culture. Hinduism is mainly considered by Tamils in Sri Lanka, who originally belonged to South India. The Gods that are most worshiped by them are Vishnu, Shiva, Kali, Ganesha and Skanda.
Seven percent of the population is taken by the Muslims when the Arabs migrated from the Middle East for business then later settled in. Christianity, believe it or not, came first to Sri Lanka by the Portuguese. With the spread of this religion, Buddhism and Hinduism were being impacted and soon after through political power, Christianity decreased.
Malawi is spotted in southeastern Africa and the country’s main languages spoke are Chewa and English. Communities in Malawi follow religions from Muslim to Hindu, Roman Catholic and Protestant. The country focuses on a sense of power and supreme being, similar to other nations in Africa. Through Arab traders from the Middle East who arrived at Malawi for business, they brought the Muslim religion to the country—same goes for Indian traders who introduced the Hindu faith.
Later on, Americans and Europeans from South Africa and Australia brought over Catholicism and Protestantism. The majority of the population are Chewa people and they follow the Christian and Protestant beliefs. Meanwhile, the Yao people practice the Muslim religion. Overall, Protestants consume 55 percent of the population, while Roman Catholics are 20 percent and Muslims are 20 percent, as well.
© Lars Plougmann
Located in Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s language that is most spoken is Indonesian. The country’s religions that the populations follow are Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Muslims take up 87.2 percent while Protestants are 6.9 percent, Catholics are 2.9 percent, Hindu is 1.7 percent, Buddhism is 0.7 percent and Confucian is 0.05 percent. While the country isn’t completely Islamic, the religion’s aspects and rules do influence political decision making.
© Tanti Ruwani
Also known as the Republic of Yemen, Yemen is discovered in Western Asia near South Arabia. The country’s most spoken language is Arabic. Almost all, but less than one percent, follow the Islamic religion. There are very small Christian and Hindu communities, yet are nothing compared to the size of the Muslims. Those who strictly follow the Muslim faith believe that women should always be covered when going about in public. Even though many women do cover up, in heavily populated cities in the country, some women and men dress in Western styles and both appearances are always respected.
Thailand is located in Southeast Asia and their native language is Thai. About 95 percent of the population follows the Theravada Buddhism belief. Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are also among the religions that Thailand acquires, yet are at very low percentages of the population. When Buddhism was introduced in Thailand, it immediately became the dominant religion.
Since the majority of Thais believe in reincarnation, many people will partake in practices such as offering donations to temples and lighting incenses in order to gain a better next-life. About 30,000 temples consume the country and contain history of their religion and the temples hold celebrations, activities, education, etc. For many young men in Thailand, living life as a monk plays a huge and important role in their lives. They dedicate months or even years to their religion—practicing and learning everything about it.
© M M
Armenia is a country in Asia and a former Soviet Republic with their native language being Armenian. Most of the population follows the Christian faith, but there are also believers in Islam and Hebrew. However, the country allows anyone to follow any religion and also the choice to be an atheist. Those who are Christians follow the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is different from Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches. They believe in saints, but not the purgatory. Their supreme leader is Echmiadzin, the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He possesses the power to control and manage the Armenian Church.
© Reflected Serendipity
By east of India and on the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is a South Asian country that’s main language is Bengali. Practiced by 88% of the population is the Islam religion. Other beliefs like Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, animism and tribal systems also occupy the faiths of people in Bangladesh. The country has been reported to acquire one of the biggest Muslim communities in the world. Muslim missionaries are the ones who brought this popular religion to the country. The Islam religion plays a huge role in those who follow the faith. Just about 13 percent of Bangladesh’s population is Hinduism and is focused in communities with a few temples. Christians make up one percent with several churches built in the country. Many hope to practice their own faith in harmony without any distractions from other religions.
© Yeo Watzup
Georgia is a country that intersects Europe and Asia and their native language is Georgian. A religious country such as this one has churches, religious paraphernalia and spiritual references everywhere. The country is consisted of multiple faiths, yet the most practice is Christianity and the Georgian Orthodox Church. Citizens of the country do respect one another’s religion and try not to become threats to them, yet still there are some violence occurring in-between. There are also groups of Yezid Kurds, Russian Molokand and Dukhonors as well as Jews. Their numbers stay low, because of the empowerment of Christianity. Baptist Churches are the most active in Georgia. Ceremonies are held within churches along with weddings, baptisms, celebrations, etc. Many Georgians do believe in the afterlife, yet don’t know how to achieve it.
© Beniamin Netan
Located in North Africa, Morocco bordered the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The country’s most spoken language is Arabic. Nearly ninety-nine percent of Morocco is Muslim, making it an Islamic country. Known to pray five times a day, in modern Morocco, the prayers come out through speakers from local mosques throughout the communities. Following the Muslim religion, they shouldn’t drink alcohol, eat pork or wear certain clothing that will expose certain body parts.
Similar to many Islamic countries, the women are expected to cover up when going out in public and cannot travel alone—especially during the night. The majority of the mosques in Morocco don’t allow non-Muslims from entering. Overall, Moroccans are considered to be very friendly to strangers.
© Dominik Golenia
— — —
Cover photo © Mark Fischer