Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 25,174 square miles and a population of 3.4 million.
The Government recognizes nine "traditional" religious groups: Latin Rite Catholics (Roman Catholics), Greek Rite Catholics, Evangelical Lutherans, Evangelical Reformed Churchgoers, Orthodox Christians (Moscow Patriarchate), Old Believers, Jews, Sunni Muslims, and Karaites.
Roman Catholicism remains dominant and influential. A 2007 poll commissioned by the Ministry of Justice showed that 80.2 percent of respondents were Roman Catholics. The Eastern Orthodox Church, the second largest religious group, has 140,000 members (approximately 4 percent of the population), mainly along the border with Belarus. There are 27,000 Old Believers, Russian Orthodox practitioners who did not accept the church's reforms in the 17th century. There are an estimated 20,000 Lutherans, primarily in the southwest. The Evangelical Reformed community has 7,000 members, with concentrations in Vilnius and the eastern town of Birzai. The Jewish community numbers 4,000. Almost 75 percent of the country's Jews live in Vilnius. The majority of local Jews are secular, and only an estimated 1,200 belong to 1 of the 8 Jewish communities. The Sunni Muslim community has 2,700 members. The Greek Catholic community has an estimated 300 members.
The Karaites have been in the country since 1397. Karaites speak a Turkic-based language and use the Hebrew alphabet. Some consider Karaites to be a branch of Judaism; their religion is based exclusively on the Old Testament. The Government recognizes the Karaites as a distinct ethnic group. Two houses of worship, one in Vilnius and one in nearby Trakai, serve the Karaite religious community of approximately 250 members. The Karaites' only religious leader is also their community president.
Less than 5 percent of the population belongs to what the Government refers to as "nontraditional" religious communities. The most numerous of these are the Full Gospel Word of Faith Movement, Pentecostals/Charismatics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and the New Apostolic Church. A total of 1,074 "traditional" and 180 "nontraditional" religious associations, centers, and communities have officially registered with the State Register of Legal Entities.
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.