Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
Religious Adherence, 2002 (other estimates)2
The country has an area of 919,595 square miles and a population of 35 million. More than 99 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. There is a small community of Ibadi Muslims in the province of Ghardaia. Official data on the number of Christian and Jewish citizens is not available; however, practitioners estimated their combined number at 50,000. The vast majority of Christians and Jews fled the country following independence from France in 1962. Many of those who remained emigrated in the 1990s due to acts of terrorism committed by Muslim extremists. According to Christian community leaders, evangelical Christians, mostly in the Kabylie region, account for the largest number of Christians, followed by Methodists and members of other Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, and Seventh-day Adventists. A significant proportion of Christian foreign residents are students and illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa seeking to reach Europe; their numbers are difficult to estimate.
For security reasons, due mainly to the civil conflict, Christians concentrated in the large cities of Algiers, Annaba, and Oran in the mid-1990s.
During the reporting period, the press frequently reported that Christian proselytizing had resulted in significant numbers of Muslims in the Kabylie region converting to Christianity. However, Christian sources reported those figures as exaggerated and the Government estimated the number of conversions that took place in 2007 at 140. Reporting suggests that citizens, not foreigners, make up the majority of those actively proselytizing in Kabylie.
Since 1994 the Jewish community has diminished to virtual nonexistence due to fears of terrorist violence. The Jewish community was not active, and the synagogues remained closed.
In Algiers church services are primarily attended by members of the diplomatic community, expatriate Western businesspersons, sub-Saharan African migrants, and a few local Christians.
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 based on the Comparative Values Survey of Islamic Countries supplemented by the 2009 Pew report entitled "Mapping the Global Muslim Population," which was used to estimate the percentage who were Sunni or Shi'a.
Estimates represent the proportion of respondents to the Comparative Values Survey of Islamic Countries in the country under consideration who reported the specific religious tradition. The survey is a subset of the World Values Survey, which compiles nationally representative public opinion data of adults (18 or older) from a variety of countries. The general methodology is a stratified random sample with each country containing a minimum of 1000 cases. Estimates represent the proportion of respondents to the third wave of the World Values Survey (2005-2008) who reported the specific religious tradition in the country of consideration.
The Pew report bases its estimates of the proportion of the Muslim population that is Shi'a on 1) "Analyses by more than 20 demographers and social scientists at universities and
research centers around the world who are acting as consultants on this project"; 2) "Ethnographic analyses published in the World Religion Database (WRD)"; and 3) "review of other published or frequently used estimates."
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.