Libya
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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Sunni

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Sunni Muslim (91.2%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Libya Northern Africa World
Muslim (all denominations combined) 96.6% 93.4% 22.8%
 
  • Sunni Muslim
  • 91.2% 92.8% 19%
     
  • Ibadi Muslim
  • 5.2% --- ---
     
  • Shia Muslim
  • 0.2% 0.3% 3.4%
    Christian (all denominations combined) 2.4% 5.3% 29.9%
     
  • Catholic
  • 1.2% 0.4% 15%
     
  • Orthodox
  • 1.1% 3.9% 3%
     
  • Protestant
  • 0.1% 0.6% 5.6%
     
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • < 0.1% < 0.1% 2.3%
    Buddhist (all denominations combined) 0.3% --- 6.6%
     
  • Theravada Buddhist
  • 0.2% --- 1.6%
     
  • Mahayana Buddhist
  • 0.1% --- 4.3%
    Hindu 0.1% --- 14.5%
    Other Religionist 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 0.2% 0.8% 12%
    Unknown 0.3% < 0.1% 4.8%

    Religious Demography3

    The country has an area of 703,816 square miles and a population of 5.8 million. Ninety-seven percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. Small Christian communities consist almost exclusively of sub-Saharan migrants and small numbers of American and European expatriate workers. Two bishops--one in Tripoli, one in Benghazi--lead an estimated 50,000 Roman Catholics. Catholic clergy operate in larger cities, working primarily in hospitals, orphanages, and with the elderly or physically impaired. A single priest in Tripoli and a bishop resident in Cairo lead the Anglican community. A Greek Orthodox archbishop resident in Tripoli and a priest in Tripoli and Benghazi serve 80 regular Orthodox churchgoers. The Ukrainian Embassy in Tripoli also maintains a small Orthodox church for Tripoli's Russian-speaking population. There are Unitarian churches in Tripoli and Benghazi as well as small Unitarian congregations scattered throughout the country. An evangelical Protestant church in Tripoli serves a population of primarily African migrant workers. While the country historically has no Shi'a community, there were reports that small numbers of Iraqi Shi'a fleeing sectarian tensions in Iraq immigrated during the reporting period. There is no known Jewish community.

    Between one hundred and two hundred Anglicans, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, attend weekly Friday services in Tripoli. An estimated 80 Orthodox Christians, including members of the Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Russian communities, attend weekly Friday services in Tripoli. Hundreds of African migrant Protestants and hundreds of Catholics also attend services in Tripoli.

    Approximately 1.5 to 2 million foreigners reside in the country, mostly from neighboring Arab countries and sub-Saharan Africa, with smaller numbers from South and Southeast Asia. Virtually all non-Sunni Muslims are foreigners. While there was no information on the number of foreign missionaries, the Government criminalizes the proselytizing of Muslims and therefore forbids missionary activity aimed at citizens. Government claims that all citizens are "by definition" Sunni Muslim, coupled with broad prohibitions on any sort of independent political association, prevent citizens from identifying themselves as members of any religious or political group.


    Sources

    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports the estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. The RCS was created to fulfill the unmet need for a dataset on the religious dimensions of countries of the world, with the state-year as the unit of observation. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivision within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson the principal investigator of the World Christian Database and the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database.

    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.

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