Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
Religious Adherence, 2010 (other estimates)2
The country has an area of 55,300 square miles and a population of more than 7 million. An estimated 97 percent of citizens consider themselves Muslims, although the degree of religious observance varies widely. Overall, active observance of Islam appears to be increasing steadily, especially among city residents and those under the age of 20. The vast majority of Muslim inhabitants adhere to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. Approximately 4 percent of Muslims are Shi'a, the majority of whom are Ismailis. Most Ismailis reside in the remote eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region as well as certain districts of the southern Khatlon region and in Dushanbe, the capital. An unregistered Muslim group, the Salafis, has taken on a more prominent profile in recent years, particularly in Dushanbe, Sughd, and Khatlon. An estimated 5,000 Salafis practice in the country, which has aroused the concern of the Government.
There are 85 non-Muslim groups registered with the Department of Religious Affairs (DRA) at the Ministry of Culture. Approximately 150,000 Christians, mostly ethnic Russians and other Soviet-era immigrant groups, reside in the country. The largest Christian group is Russian Orthodox, but other registered organizations include Baptists (five organizations), Roman Catholics (two), Seventh-day Adventists (one), Jehovah's Witnesses (one), Lutherans (no data available), and Korean Protestants, which include the SunMin Church (two). The DRA previously estimated the number of Christian converts since independence at up to 3,000 persons. Other religious minorities include Baha'is (four registered organizations), Zoroastrians (no data available), and Jews (one). Each of these groups is very small, and nearly all their members live in Dushanbe or other large cities. An estimated 0.01 percent of the population is atheist or does not belong to any religious denomination.
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 for the country were taken from the United States Department of
State's Report on
International Religious Freedom. "The 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." The report profiles issues of religious adherence and freedom for each nation in the world. The information for each country was derived from a combination of "government and religious officials, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religious groups, and academics." Section I of each specific country report contains information on the religious demography of that nation. It is important to note that the estimates are of the proportion of national citizens (excluding resident non-nationals) who identify with specific religious traditions.
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.