The 10 least religious countries, ranked by perception

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Religion is a powerful force.

It can bring people together in prayer, and it can force them to opposing sides of the battlefield.

According to data from the 2016 Best Countries rankings – a characterization of 60 countries based on a survey of more than 16,000 people from four regions – Australia is perceived to be the least religious country in the world.

And perception might have basis in reality. A recent poll conducted by Gallup International and the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research reports that 58 percent of the country is either not religious or atheist.

The same poll touts China – with 61 percent "convinced atheists" – as the least religious country in the world followed by Hong Kong (a special administrative region within China), Japan and the Czech Republic.

Sweden, perceived by Best Countries survey respondents to be the second-least religious country in the world, is 87 percent Lutheran, according to the World Factbook. However, the Swedish government reports that only 8 percent of the country's population regularly attends religious services.

Below are the 10 countries viewed as least religious in the world:

11 PHOTOS
10 countries perceived as least religious (US News)
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The 10 least religious countries, ranked by perception

10. Austria

Best countries overall rank: 12

(Photo by George Pachantouris via Getty)

9. France

Best countries overall rank: 8

(Photo by Sergey Borisov via Getty)

8. Canada

Best countries overall rank: 2

(Photo via Shutterstock)

7. Denmark

Best countries overall rank: 10

(Photo by Kateryna Negoda via Getty)

6. Luxembourg

Best countries overall rank: 14

(Photo via Getty)

5. New Zealand

Best countries overall rank: 11

(Photo via Getty)

4. Netherlands

Best countries overall rank: 9

(Photo via Getty)

3. Germany

Best countries overall rank: 1

(Photo by Sean Pavone Photo via Getty)

2. Sweden

Best countries overall rank: 5

(Photo via Getty)

1. Australia

Best countries overall rank: 6

(Photo via Getty)

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