There are two major divisions of Buddhism in the world; Theravada and Mahayana. The Mahayana includes Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism) and has many different forms, schools, or traditions and the majority of all Buddhists are Mahayana. This Dhamma Wiki encyclopedia focuses on early Buddhism, i.e., Theravada. Based on the number of Buddhists in the World article here at Dhamma Wiki, a rough estimate is given here as to the total number of Theravada Buddhists in the world.
This is only a rough estimate, as it is difficult to ascertain the exact numbers of Buddhists by tradition since there is considerable overlap among many Buddhists. Many follow more than one tradition and also more than one religion. For example, followers of Thich Nhat Hanh practice Theravada mindfulness, have celibate monks and nuns, but are a Mahayana Order, primarily being Zen. Or for example, some Buddhists prefer to be called Theravada, but also attend Zen centers, Vajrayana centers; or vice versa, such as a Zen practitioner who also likes Theravada, etc.
Approximately 231 million Theravada Buddhists in the world.
Last updated: January 2016