WASHINGTON: People in the Middle East see religious and ethnic hatred as the greatest threat to the world, while Europeans point to rising inequality and Americans increasingly share that concern.

A global survey of 44 countries by the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based policy and research group, explored the variations by region in how threats are ranked. About 30 percent of Pakistanis believe that nuclear weapons and inequality pose the greatest threat, it said.

The survey asked 48,643 people to choose which one of five dangers posed the greatest danger to the world: nuclear weapons, growing income inequality, religious and ethnic hatred, environmental damage, or AIDS and other diseases.

The survey was conducted from March 17 to June 5, before the large territorial gains the Islamic State extremists made in Syria and Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, or the escalation of the Ebola outbreak centered in West Africa.

Even so, Africans flagged infectious disease such as AIDS as the world’s most pressing issue, while those polled in five of seven Mideast countries surveyed said religious and ethnic hatred posed the greatest threat.

About a third of respondents in China, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam pointed to pollution and environmental threats, while people in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India flagged religious and ethnic divisions.

Latin Americans had mixed views of the top threat, with many naming nuclear weapons and environmental issues. Thirty-two percent of people answering in seven European countries said the growing gap between rich and poor was the most serious problem.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans shared this view, followed by 24 percent citing religious and ethnic tensions.

Russians and Ukrainians identified nuclear proliferation as the greatest danger.

The Pew poll provided a margin of error for each of the countries surveyed, from a high of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points in countries including El Salvador, Turkey and Jordan, to a low of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points in India.