Islam now represented by approximately 1.3 billion
For the first time in history, Islam has become the most widespread religious denomination, says the Vatican.
According to the Vatican's 2008 yearbook of statistics, compiled by Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population, edging ahead of Catholics at 17.4 percent.
"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," said Formenti in an interview with Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
The figures however aren't as definitive as it seems. Based on data gathered in 2006, the Vatican puts the number of Catholics in the world at 1.13 billion people. Formenti states that the Muslim population, estimated to be approximately 1.3 billion people, had been compiled by individual countries and then released by the United Nations - statistics therefore that the Vatican itself can't vouch for.
Formenti added that if all Christian groups were counted as one, including Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, the Christian population would reach around 2 billion people, some 33 percent of the world's population.
One category that the Vatican fails to mention however is that of Atheists, or people of non-religious beliefs. In 2005, a survey published by Encyclopedia Britannica found 11.9 percent of the world's population to be non-religious. Though the Muslim and Catholic populations are expectedly large, the non-religious population is growing at an ever-quickening rate.