Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 25,900 square miles and a population of 4.4 million, including the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are not fully under the control of the Government of Georgia.
Most ethnic Georgians (who constitute more than 80 percent of the population, according to the 2002 census) at least nominally associate themselves with the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC). Membership in the GOC continued to increase. Non-Georgian Orthodox groups accept the territorial jurisdiction of the GOC and generally use the primary language of their communicants (e.g., Russian, Armenian, or Greek). There remains a small number of mostly ethnic Russian adherents of three dissident Orthodox schools--the Molokani, Staroveriy (Old Believers), and Dukhoboriy (Spirit Wrestlers).
The Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), Judaism, and Islam have traditionally coexisted with Georgian Orthodoxy. Some religious groups are correlated with ethnicity. Azeris comprise the second largest ethnic group (approximately 285,000, or 7 percent of the population) and are largely Muslim; most live in the southeastern region of Kvemo-Kartli, where they constitute a majority. Armenians are the third largest ethnic group (estimated at 249,000, or 6 percent of the population) and belong predominantly to the AAC; they constitute the majority of the population in the southern Samtskhe-Javakheti region.
Approximately 10 percent of the population is at least nominally Muslim. There are three main ethnic Muslim populations: Azeris, Georgian Muslims of Ajara, and Chechen Kists in the northeastern region.
There are an estimated 35,000 Catholics, largely ethnic Georgians or Assyrians, and 18,000 Kurdish Yezidis. The ethnic Greek Orthodox community numbers 15,000. There are an estimated 10,000 Jews. Protestant and other nontraditional denominations have become more active and prominent but constitute less than 1 percent of the population.
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.