Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
Religious Adherence, 2005 (other estimates)2
The country has an area of 310,527 square miles and a population of 170 million. Official figures on religious demography, based on the most recent census taken in 1998, showed that approximately 97 percent of the population was Muslim. Groups comprising 2 percent of the population or less include Hindus, Christians, and others, including Ahmadis. The majority of Muslims in the country are Sunni, with a Shi'a minority ranging between 10 to 20 percent. Parsis (Zoroastrians), Sikhs, and Buddhists each had approximately 20,000 adherents, while the Baha'i claimed 30,000. Some tribes in Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) practiced traditional animist religious beliefs.
Less than 0.5 percent of the population was silent on religious affiliation or claimed not to adhere to a particular religious group. Social pressure was such that few persons would claim no religious affiliation.
No data were available on active participation in formal religious services or rituals. Religious beliefs often played an important part in daily life. Most Muslims offered prayers on Friday, Islam's holy day. Many prayed daily. During the month of Ramadan, many less observant Muslims fasted and attended services. Approximately 70 percent of English-speaking Roman Catholics worshiped regularly; a much lower percentage of Urdu-speaking Catholics did so. Attendance at Hindu and Sikh religious services increased during festivals.
Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.
1. The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
2. Estimates based on country reports conducted by the Federal Research Division, which is a division of the Library of Congress. This information was supplemented with the 2009 Pew report entitled "Mapping the Global Muslim Population."
The country profiles are intended to "offer brief, summarized information on a country's historical background, geography, society, economy, transportation and telecommunications, government and politics, and national security." Included in each section on "society" is an estimate of religious demography of the nation.
The Pew report bases its estimates of the proportion of the Muslim population that is Shi'a on 1) "Analyses by more than 20 demographers and social scientists at universities and research centers around the world who are acting as consultants on this project"; 2) "Ethnographic analyses published in the World Religion Database (WRD)"; and 3) "review of other published or frequently used estimates."
3. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.