RELIGION LIBRARY

Iran

COUNTRY PROFILE

Map of Iran

The country has an area of 631,000 square miles and a population of 70 million. The population is 98 percent Muslim--89 percent is Shi'a and 9 percent Sunni (mostly Turkmen and Arabs, Baluchs, and Kurds living in the southwest, southeast, and northwest respectively). There are no official statistics available on the size of the Sufi Muslim population; however, some reports estimate between two and five million persons practice Sufism in the country. Non-Muslims are estimated to account for 2 percent of the population.
Recent unofficial estimates from religious organizations claim that Baha'is, Jews, Christians, Sabean-Mandaeans, and Zoroastrians constitute 2 percent of the population. The largest non-Muslim minority is the Baha'is, who number 300,000 to 350,000. Unofficial estimates of the Jewish community's size vary from 20,000 to 25,000.
According to U.N. figures, 300,000 Christians live in the country, the majority of whom are ethnic Armenians. Unofficial estimates for the Assyrian Christian population range between 10,000 and 20,000. There are also Protestant denominations, including evangelical religious groups. Christian groups outside the country estimate the size of the Protestant Christian community to be less than 10,000, although many Protestant Christians reportedly practice in secret. Sabean-Mandaeans number 5,000 to 10,000 persons. The Government regards the Sabean-Mandaeans as Christians, and they are included among the three recognized religious minorities; however, Sabean-Mandaeans do not consider themselves Christians. The Government estimates there are 30,000 to 35,000 Zoroastrians, a primarily ethnic Persian minority; however, Zoroastrian groups claim to have 60,000 adherents. There are indications that members of all religious minorities are emigrating at a high rate, although it is unclear if the reasons for emigration are religious or related to overall poor economic conditions.

Population Population (2009 est.) 66,429,284
Religious Demographics Muslim 98% (Shi'a 89%, Sunni 9%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i) 2%
Ethnic Groups Ethnic Groups Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Languages Languages Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
Country Flag Flag of Iran