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Theravāda, Sanskrit: स्थविरवाद sthaviravāda, is literally "the Teaching of the Elders", and is the oldest surviving Buddhist branch. It is relatively conservative, and according to Dr. Rupert Gethin, it is generally closer to early Buddhism than the other existing Buddhist traditions.

For many centuries, Theravada has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (now about 70% of the population) and most of continental Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand). Theravada is also practiced by minorities in parts of southwest China (mainly by the Shan and Tai ethnic groups), Vietnam (by the Khmer Krom), Bangladesh (by the ethnic groups of Baruas, Chakma, Magh, and Tanchangya), Malaysia and Indonesia, while recently gaining popularity in Singapore and the Western world.

Today, Theravada Buddhists, otherwise known as Theravadins, number over 150 million worldwide, and during the past few decades Theravada Buddhism has begun to take root in the West and in the Buddhist revival in India.

Read more about TheravadaDoctrinal Differences With Other Schools, Teachings, Festivals and Customs, List of Theravada Majority Countries, Gallery

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