- Religious Freedom
- Religious Regulation
- Religious Support
Azerbaijan - Major World Religions2
Azerbaijan - Largest Religious Groups2
Preferred Religion (2015)1: Shia
Majority Religion (2015)2: Shia Muslim (65.8%)
Religious Adherents, (2015)2
The country has an area of 33,774 square miles and a population of 8.5 million. There were no reliable statistics on membership in specific religious groups; however, according to official figures approximately 96 percent of the population is Muslim. The remainder of the population consists mostly of Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Jews, followers of other Christian groups, and nonbelievers.
Among the Muslim majority, religious observance is relatively low, and Muslim identity tends to be based more on culture and ethnicity than religion; however, there has been a gradual growth in the number of observant Muslims. According to the State Committee on Work with Religious Associations (SCWRA), the Muslim population is approximately 65 percent Shi'a and 35 percent Sunni; traditionally, differences are not defined sharply.
The majority of Christians are Russian Orthodox whose identity, like that of Muslims, tends to be based as much on culture and ethnicity as on religion. Christians are concentrated in Baku and several other urban areas.
The great majority of the Jewish population, numbering approximately 20,000, lives in Baku. Much smaller communities exist in Guba and elsewhere.
Shi'a, Sunni, Russian Orthodox, and Jews are considered to be the country's "traditional" religious groups. Small congregations of Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Molokans (Russian Orthodox Old Believers), Seventh-day Adventists, and Baha'is have been present for more than 100 years.
Since independence in 1991, a number of religious groups considered by the Government as foreign or "nontraditional" have established a presence, including "Wahhabi" Muslims, Pentecostal and evangelical Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Hare Krishnas. There are significant expatriate Christian communities in Baku.
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.