China has been a multi-religious country since the ancient times. It is well known that Confucianism is an indigenous religion and is the soul of Chinese culture, which enjoyed popular support among people and even became the guiding ideology for feudalism society, but it did not develop into a national belief. It makes the culture more tolerant to others, thus, many other religions have been brought into the country in different dynasties, but none of them developed powerful enough in the history and they only provide diverse people more spiritual support.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution of the PRC. The Chinese people mainly practice Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Christianity. Buddhism has the widest influence in China.
Yunnan is a religious resort well known in China as well as an important place where many world religions gather. Many religions are widely distributed among the multi-nationalities in Yunnan, including Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Christianity, Islamism as well as the Dongba Religion, Benzhu Religion and other minority primitive religions.
Among these religions, the three branches of China’s Buddhism including Mahayana, Hinayana and Tibetan Buddhism are broadly spread in the middle, south and northwest of Yunnan, forming a special phenomenon that many religions gather in one place compatibly, which is rare in the world. They have made Yunnan an ideal kingdom with special attraction for pilgrimage of religious followers from China and abroad.
According to a demographic analysis of religions in Yunnan, as of 2005 the province has around 4 million believers of the five government-sanctioned organised religious doctrines of China, almost 90% of them belonging to the ethnic minorities.
Most of the population of the province practices traditional indigenous religions including the Chinese folk religion among the Han Chinese, Bimoism among the Yi peoples and Benzhuism among the Bai people. The Dai people are one of the few ethnic minorities of China that traditionally follow the Theravada branch of Buddhism. Most of the Hui people of the region are Muslims. Christianity is dominant among the Lisu, the Jingpo and the Derung ethnic groups.