17 Most Atheist Countries in the World

Atheism and general indifference to religion are rising across many parts of the world, especially in Eastern and Northern Europe. Census and polling data from many countries show a consistent decline in regular attendance of religious services. Here are 17 countries experiencing a rise in atheism and irreligion.

China

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Ninety percent of adults in China say they don’t have a religious belief. This percentage increases to 94 among members of China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party. According to the Pew Research Center, the CCP believes the Marxist view that “religion is a temporary phenomenon that will fade as societies advance” and promotes atheism in line with this view, “thus stigmatizing belief in and engagement with religion, including zongjiao (宗教) and “superstition” (mixin 迷信).”

Sweden

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Fifty-three percent of Swedes are members of the Church of Sweden, but as Sweden.se reports, record numbers have left the church over the past twenty years, and this decline is predicted to continue. The number of Swedes attending other religious services is also in decline, and Sweden is the “only Nordic country without a state church.”

Czechia

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Czechia is one of Europe’s most secular countries, with 47.8 percent of the population identifying as irreligious, according to the 2021 Census. This is a drastic decrease in religious identity compared to the first half of the 20th century, when over 90 percent of Czechs were Christians.

United Kingdom

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In 2021, less than half the population described themselves as Christians. This 46.2 percent figure is a 13.1 percent drop from 59.3 percent, or 33.3 million, in 2011. According to the 2021 census, people describing themselves as having “no religion” increased by 12 percent in the decade following 2011.

France

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France is known for its strong tradition of secularism (laïcité), with Article 1 of the French Constitution discouraging religious involvement in government affairs. French political leaders refrain from making religious remarks, and being discreet about religion is a part of French culture. A poll from 2021 found that 51 percent of respondents did not believe in God.

Germany

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Just over half of Germany’s population describes themselves as Christians, and around 43.8 percent of Germans in 2022 were irreligious. Nazi rule in WWII and rule by the Socialist Unity Party in East Germany weakened religious traditions in the country, with religious affiliation still rarer in the East today.

Netherlands

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Data from 2021 revealed that 55 percent of Dutch people are not religious. Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam were the three biggest religious groups in the country. Identifying with a religion has declined over the past decade, and only a quarter of the population believes in God.

Japan

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Japan is a predominantly non-religious society with traditional practices rooted in Buddhism and Shinto. According to Japan Guide, “most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist, or both.” Religion typically only plays a role in ceremonies like weddings and funerals.

South Korea

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The majority of South Koreans are irreligious, with a 2021 Gallup estimate of 60 percent of the country following no religion. In 2012, South Korea had the 5th largest population of atheists globally. Some experts point to South Korea’s distrust of hierarchical organizations for the irreligion, while others believe the country’s demanding education and work systems are the primary contributors.

Denmark

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A Gallup poll in 2009 found that only 19 percent of Danes considered religion an important part of their lives. This is despite 72.5 percent of the population being registered members of the Church of Denmark, which is Lutheran Protestant.

Norway

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Norway has a strong secular culture, despite 68.7 percent of the population belonging to the Church of Norway. Despite this, only 2 percent of Norwegians regularly attend church. A 2016 survey of 4,000 people saw 39 percent respond that they did not believe in God, with 37 percent saying yes.

Finland

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A 2018 international study found that 40 percent of Finns did not believe in God, compared to 34 percent who said they did. The number of irreligious people in Finland has doubled in the last two decades.

Belgium

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Belgium is experiencing increasing secularization and the decline of Catholicism, which once dominated the country. Since the 1950s, identifying as Catholic has decreased in Belgium, and non-religious people comprised 41 percent of the population in 2021.

Spain

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Catholicism is the dominant religion in Spain, but there are high levels of secularization in the country. Most Spaniards do not regularly attend religious services, despite 52 percent of the population identifying as Catholic. In September 2023, 4.41 percent of the population identified as aesthetics, agnostics, or non-believers.

Australia

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According to The Conversation, Australia is often described as a secular country, and census results have shown that the number of Australians who don’t identify with a religion has risen in the past six years. Thirty-eight percent of Australians in 2021 were irreligious.

Iceland

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Despite fifty-eight percent of Iceland’s population identifying with the Lutheran Church of Iceland and Christianity being the religion of 69.55 percent, Iceland is becoming an increasingly secular country. Almost 100 percent of the population identified as Christian in 1990, but now nearly 19 percent of the population is irreligious.

Estonia

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Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world, with 64.97 percent of the population being irreligious in 2023. This irreligion dates back to the 19th century, when Christianity was deemed a foreign religion, impeding Estonian independence. This irreligion was further accelerated by the Soviet occupation, which enforced atheism.

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