Religious Diversity Abroad

Religion plays a role in many countries and cultures, and depending on where you travel, this may be a larger or smaller role than in the U.S. It is a good idea to research religion in your host country before you go abroad. One place to start can be the CIA World Factbook. This website allows you to search by country and provides statistics on religion - you can also find other helpful facts related to your travel on this website. Additionally, you may have religious practices that you would like to observe abroad. Be sure to talk with your Education Abroad Advisor if you have specific questions about how accommodations may be made for you, if needed (ex. dietary restrictions, prayer times).

Remember to stay open minded about different beliefs you may encounter and consider how your own beliefs will be received abroad. Learning about a country's major religions can be a good opportunity to learn more about its culture. If you plan to worship abroad, do some research on what locations are available.

Things to consider:

  • What is the degree of religious tolerance in your host country? What is the dominant religion in your host country? Are all religions tolerated?
  • Will you be part of the religious majority or minority?
  • Is it safe to wear religious symbols and/or clothing?
  • How are atheists and agnostics perceived in the host country?
  • Are there laws regarding religion (ex. proselytizing Christianity is banned under Chinese law)?
  • Is there separation of religion & the government?

Recommended Resources

International Religious Freedom - The state of religious freedom, country by country, as seen by the U.S. Department of State.

BBC, Religions – This list by the BBC provides detailed information on various beliefs and religions