Welcome to OSAC! The Online Spiritual Atlas of China was created by the Center on Religion and Chinese Society (CRCS) at Purdue University to complement the print volume, Atlas of Religion in China: Social and Geographical Contexts, by Fenggang Yang (Brill, 2018). OSAC allows users to visualize the spatial distribution of individual religious sites in China, as well as see how provinces, prefectures, and counties compare with each other in terms of the number of religious sites. Currently, the data comes from China’s 2004 Economic Census, which listed 72,887 religious sites from all of China’s 31 provinces or provincial-level regions and municipalities. For more information on this dataset, see the section below on the 2004 Economic Census.
There are a variety of ways to use OSAC. First, all religious sites can be viewed on a point map, with each of the five main religions (Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism) as a different color. Using the filter function, users may limit the points to a single religion and/or a geographic region (province, prefecture, or county). Next, the “Predominant Religion by Province” layer reveals the religion with the largest number of sites for each province. Likewise, the “Predominant Religion by Prefecture” and “Predominant Religion by County” layers do the same for smaller geographic areas. Finally, users may also view the distribution of sites for each religion as a heat map, revealing where there are more or less sites for a single religion. Below are short tutorial instructions that demonstrate these major functions.
We will be periodically updating the data in OSAC, adding religious sites gleaned from mapping services (like Google or Baidu), published sources, or users, like you. Each year we will “publish” an official version of OSAC, complete with a DOI and with data that can be downloaded from Purdue University Library. Now you can access the 2019 version of the data here.