National Profiles > Regions > South-Central Asia > Kazakhstan
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Kazakhstan - Major World Religions2

Kazakhstan - Largest Religious Groups2

  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Sunni

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Sunni Muslim (75.8%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Kazakhstan South-Central Asia World
Muslim 76.32% 36.21% 22.98%
  • Sunni
  • 75.77% 27.28% 19.28%
  • Shiite
  • 0.54% 8.59% 3.44%
    Christian 21.1% 2.24% 29.88%
  • Orthodox
  • 18.81% 0.35% 3.05%
  • Catholic
  • 1.6% 0.66% 14.95%
  • Protestant
  • 0.45% 0.97% 9.58%
    Not Religious 2.11% 1.06% 12.1%
  • Unspecified Not Religious
  • 1.74% 0.93% 10.11%
  • Atheist
  • 0.38% 0.14% 1.97%
    Indigenous 0.16% 0.4% 2.5%
    Buddhist 0.09% 1.58% 6.65%
    Bahai 0.05% 0.13% 0.11%
    Jewish 0.03% % 0.19%
    Zoroastrian 0.02% % %
    East Asian Complex 0.01% 0.01% 4.85%

    Religious Demography3

    The country has an area of 1,052,540 square miles, and a population of 15.4 million, according to 2007 government statistics. The society is ethnically diverse, and many religious groups are represented. Due in part to the country's nomadic and Soviet past, many residents describe themselves as nonbelievers; surveys from past years suggested low levels of religious conviction and worship attendance. The Government maintains statistics on the number of registered congregations and organizations but not on the size of each group. The most recent reliable statistics on religious affiliation are based on the 1999 census. Although there was a large increase in the number of minority religious congregations registered since 1999, the Government believes that percentages of the population belonging to particular religious groups have remained consistent.

    Ethnic Kazakhs, who constitute just over half of the population, and ethnic Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Tatars, who collectively comprise less than 10 percent, are historically Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school. Other Islamic groups that account for less than 1 percent of the population include Shafi'i Sunni (traditionally associated with Chechens), Shi'a, Sufi, and Ahmadi. The highest concentration of self-identified practicing Muslims is located in the southern region bordering Uzbekistan. There were approximately 2,200 registered mosques, all of them affiliated with the Spiritual Association of Muslims of Kazakhstan (SAMK), a national organization with close ties to the Government.

    Approximately one-third of the population, comprising sizeable numbers of ethnic Russians and smaller populations of ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Belarusians, are Russian Orthodox by tradition. There were 257 registered Russian Orthodox churches. Members of a Roman Catholic archdiocese include many ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Germans and account for 2 percent of the population. An estimated 1.5 percent of the population is ethnic German, many of whom are Roman Catholic or Lutheran. The Government reported 82 registered Roman Catholic churches and affiliated organizations throughout the country. A smaller, affiliated community of Greek Catholics, many of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, had four registered churches.

    According to government statistics, Protestant Christian congregations outnumber Russian Orthodox or Roman Catholic congregations, although it is unlikely that Protestant Christians account for a larger number of adherents. The Government reported 964 registered Protestant Christian organizations with 546 places of worship during the reporting period.

    There are two Baptist groups in the country, the Union of Evangelical Christians and Baptists ("Union of Baptists"), with an estimated 10,000 adherents and 227 registered groups, and the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians and Baptists ("Council of Churches") with up to 1,000 adherents. The Council of Churches Baptists refuse on principle to register.

    Other Christian religious groups with a sizable number of congregations include Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Pentecostals, as well as Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists. Smaller communities of Methodists, Mennonites, and Mormons are also registered.

    A Jewish community, estimated at well below 1 percent of the population, has synagogues in Almaty, Astana, Ust-Kamenogorsk, and Pavlodar.

    Government statistics included 43 other registered religious groups during the reporting period, including 4 registered Buddhist groups, 11 affiliates of the Hare Krishna movement, as well as Baha'is, Christian Scientists, and the Unification Church.


    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, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions 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, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    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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