Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 17,666 square miles and a population of 1.36 million (including 68 percent ethnic Estonian, 26 percent Russian, 2 percent Ukrainian, 1 percent Belarusian, and 1 percent Finnish). Approximately 60 percent of the population does not claim a religion. Less than 29 percent of the population are members of Christian congregations. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church is the largest denomination, with 164 congregations and approximately 180,000 members. The Estonian Orthodox Church, subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate (EOCMP), has 30 congregations with an estimated 170,000 members, and the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOC) has 61 congregations with approximately 25,000 members. The Roman Catholic Church has 9 congregations with an estimated 6,000 members. There are smaller communities of Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals, Old Believers, Methodists, and other religious groups. There is a Jewish community of approximately 2,500 members, with a community center, day school, and a synagogue that opened in May 2007, the only building in the country specifically designated for use as a synagogue. There are also small communities of Muslims, Buddhists, and other religious groups.
The ethnic Estonian majority is mainly Lutheran, while most religious adherents among the Russian-speaking population are Orthodox.
Fifty years of Soviet occupation diminished the role of religion in society. Many neighborhoods built since World War II do not have religious centers, and many of the surviving churches require extensive renovation. In May 2008 the Lutheran Nomme German Savior Church was consecrated after several years of renovation. In July 2007 St. James' Lutheran Church in Viimsi, the first new Lutheran church structure built in the country in almost six decades, was consecrated. This coastal church commemorates those who perished at sea. The national Government as well as Tallinn and other municipalities have their own ongoing projects for renovation of churches.
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. 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.