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Religions and Spirituality in South East Asia

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Religion is one of the most important factors in the preservation of South East Asian culture. Having the most diverse traditions and beliefs, Asians are also emphasizing on their own spirituality that mold them as human beings. At times, it may also cause conflicts and complaints. No matter what sect or religion they are in, they strongly believe that they have been distinct and unique because of these beliefs.

Asia is the birthplace of most of the worlds mainstream religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastranism, as well as many other religions. Sinclair James International Travel and Tours, your Australian partner in exploring the wonders of South East Asia, has listed the top religions in the region which can help you identify and distinguish one from the other:

Christianity

The biggest religion in the world, Christianity is also a dominating in South East Asia. Many reviews state that six out of the top fifteen largest Christian populations in Asia are found in this region. Philippines (1 billion), Indonesia (23 million), Vietnam (7 million), Malaysia (2.6 million), Sri Lanka (1.5 million) and Taiwan (one million) has their share of Christian majorities. Philippines, specifically, has been a distinct Christian country with dozens of Christian sects and protestants. Catholic, which is one of the sub religions of Christianity, has been prominent in the Philippines, making it one of the top five countries to have the largest Catholic population. Other sects in Christianity were also founded and established in the country. Last 2014, more than a million of followers gathered in Manila, the archipelago’s capital, for the hundred year celebration of Iglesia ni Cristo, a Filipino-founded Christian church.

Islam

One of the largest religion populations in the world, Islam is also predominant in South East Asia. Indonesia remains the largest Muslim country in the world. There are also followers of Muhammad in the south of the Philippines. Some are scattered in other neighboring countries like Malaysia and Brunei.

Buddhism

Buddhism is the fourth largest world religion and the 3rd largest in Asia. It is dominant and the majority of countries of South East Asia especially in Bhutan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Large Buddhist populations Taiwan (35%), Vietnam (10%) and Singapore (33%).It also has strong minorities in India, Malaysia and Brunei. Buddhism was founded by Siddartha Gautama, also known as Buddha and is often confused with Hinduism which is also practiced in some minority parts of South East Asia.

Linda Barbara

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