Chapter 12: Comparative constitutional law and religion in Asia
Asia - the birthplace of many faith traditions - is not only the most populous continent, home to over four billion people; it is also the most religiously diverse continent. Hundreds of millions follow Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism in its Shinto, Thervada, Mahayana, and Confucian-Taoism versions. Crude estimates suggest that followers of Islam account for approximately 28 percent of Asia's population (Islam is the majority religion in 26 of the 48 Asian countries); 24 percent follow Hinduism (the vast majority of them in India and Nepal); 18 percent of the continent's population (constituting the majority religion in eight countries) follow varieties of Buddhism; and followers of all other religions make up the remaining 30 percent (Mahmood 2010; Esposito et al. 2011). The varied post-colonial legacy - British in India and Pakistan, French in Vietnam, Spanish in the Philippines, Portuguese in Macao and East Timor, and Dutch in Indonesia - alongside post-war (e.g. Japan) and post-Soviet (six Asian nations were once part of the USSR) reconstruction, add another layer of complexity.
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