Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 604,247 square miles and a population of 2.9 million. Buddhism and the country's cultural traditions are closely linked. When government controls on religion and on traditional practices ended in 1990, there was an increase in Buddhist activity. Local scholars claim that more than 90 percent of all citizens ascribe to some form of Buddhism, although practice varies widely. Lamaist Buddhism of the Tibetan variety is the traditional and dominant religion.
Ethnic Kazakhs, most of whom are Muslim, are the largest ethnic minority, constituting approximately 6 percent of the population nationwide and 80 percent in the western province of Bayan-Olgiy. Muslims operate approximately 40 mosques in Bayan-Olgiy and 4 Islamic centers in Ulaanbaatar, serving nearly 3,000 students combined. The mosques and Islamic centers receive financial assistance from religious organizations in Kazakhstan, Turkey, and the Gulf States.
There is a small but growing number of Christians. Church officials estimate that more than 4 percent of the population practice Christianity, of which an estimated 90 percent are Protestant and 9 percent are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). Roman Catholics and members of the Russian Orthodox Church together account for the remaining 1 percent. Some citizens practice shamanism, often in tandem with another religion, but there are no reliable statistics on their number.
Throughout the country, there were 432 registered places of worship, 217 of which were Buddhist, 161 were Christian, 44 were Muslim, and 5 each were Baha'i and shamanistic. During the period covered by this report, the Ministry registered 18 churches, 20 mosques, and 3 shaman temples. Evangelical Christians estimated that there were 250 unregistered evangelical churches throughout the country.
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.