U.S. Markets closed

The 10 Most Religious Countries, Ranked by Perception

Megan Trimble, Shelbi Austin

Some countries are seen as holier-than-thou.

The Jewish homeland of Israel is again perceived to be the most religious in the world, according to data from the 2020 Best Countries rankings, a characterization of 73 countries based on a survey of more than 20,000 global citizens. In the survey, respondents answered how closely they related each of the 73 countries to the term "religious," an adjective that Merriam-Webster defines as a "faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity," but can hold different meanings for different people.

The Basic Law in Israel describes the country as a Jewish state and "protects the freedom of conscience, faith, religion, and worship, regardless of an individual's religious affiliation," according to the U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report for 2016. Israel's capital, Jerusalem, is home to significant religious and historic sites such as the Western Wall and Temple Mount -- which draws both Jews and Muslims -- but the nation has also been rife with violence between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Israel, Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.

Saudi Arabia and India rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in terms of perceived religiosity. Saudi Arabia has a theocratic monarchy with a legal system based on Islamic Shariah law and India is the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism. Both countries changed in rank from the 2019 listing, with Saudi Arabia moving up one spot to No. 31 and India moving up two spots to No. 25.

Data show Islam is spreading, on track to surpass Christianity as the world's biggest religion. While the world's population is projected to grow 32 percent in the next few decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70 percent -- from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060, a 2017 Pew Research Center report found.

Meanwhile, the United States, with freedom to practice religion guaranteed in its Constitution, ranks No. 55. Sweden and Australia are perceived to be the least religious countries at Nos. 72 and 73, respectively.

These are the 10 countries perceived to be the most religious.

No. 10: Lebanon

Religion rank: 10
Best Overall Rank: 73

Learn more about Lebanon.

No. 9: Oman

Religion rank: 9
Best Overall Rank: 71

Learn more about Oman.

No. 8: Qatar

Religion rank: 8
Best Overall Rank: 30

Learn more about Qatar.

No. 7: Turkey

Religion rank: 7
Best Overall Rank: 35

Learn more about Turkey.

No. 6: Jordan

Religion rank: 6
Best Overall Rank: 64

Learn more about Jordan.

No. 5: Egypt

Religion rank: 5
Best Overall Rank: 36

Learn more about Egypt.

No. 4: United Arab Emirates

Religion rank: 4
Best Overall Rank: 22

Learn more about the United Arab Emirates.

No. 3: India

Religion rank: 3
Best Overall Rank: 25

Learn more about India.

No. 2: Saudi Arabia

Religion rank: 2
Best Overall Rank: 31

Learn more about Saudi Arabia.

No. 1: Israel

Religion rank: 1
Best Overall Rank: 29

Learn more about Israel.

The Most Religious Countries, Ranked by Perception

1. Israel

2. Saudi Arabia

3. India

4. United Arab Emirates

5. Egypt

6. Jordan

7. Turkey

8. Qatar

9. Oman

10. Lebanon

More From US News & World Report