major branch of Buddhism following the Pāli Canon, dominant in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand

Theravada is the oldest-surviving denomination of Buddhism.


Basic terms




History of Theravada Buddism


Theravada was founded in Nepal. It is relatively conservative, and generally closest to early Buddhist practice.[1] For many centuries it has been the main religion of Sri Lanka (now about 70% of the population[2]) and most of continental Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand). Theravada is also practiced by minorities in parts of southwest China (by the Shan and Tai ethnic groups), Vietnam (by the Khmer Krom), Bangladesh (by the ethnic groups of Baruas, Chakma, and Magh), Malaysia and Indonesia.

Theravada today


Recently this oldest-surviving denomination of Buddhism gaining popularity in Singapore and the Western world. Today Theravada Buddhists, who are also known as Theravadins, number over 100 million worldwide; in recent decades Theravada has begun to take root in the West[3] and in the Buddhist revival in Nepal.[4]

International Buddhist Meditation Center[5] operates in Kathmandu.[6]


  1. Gethin, Foundations, page 1
  2. "The World Factbook: Sri Lanka". CIA World Factbook. Archived from the original on 2018-12-24. Retrieved 2006-08-12..
  3. Bullitt, John. "What is Theravada Buddhism?". BuddhaNet. Retrieved 2010-08-15. In the last century, however, the West has begun to take notice of Theravada's unique spiritual legacy and teachings of Awakening. In recent decades, this interest has swelled, with the monastic Sangha from the various schools within Theravada establishing dozens of monasteries across Europe and North America.
  4. Archived 2017-06-30 at the Wayback Machine - See the citations under 'Theravada Buddhism - World'
  5. Gyan Jyoti Kansakar (1997). "Culture of Health expands horizons". To Health Via Culture (3): 14–19. ISSN 0204-3440. Archived from the original on 1 March 2021.
  6. "International Buddhist Meditation Center". Retrieved 30 December 2018.