The central figures of the Baha'i Faith have always directed the expansion and development of the religion. The Bab instructed his earliest disciples, the Letters of the Living, to go to various parts of Iran, Iraq, and India to spread word of his claim. Baha'u'llah directed certain of his followers to go to India, Egypt, Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia in order to spread his religion. 'Abdu'l-Baha supervised the spread of the Baha'i Faith to North America and Europe and sent some of the learned Baha'is to these areas to educate the Western converts in their new religion. He himself undertook two lengthy journeys in 1911-1913, spreading the Baha'i teachings throughout North America and Europe. In addition, Baha'is moved to such places as China, Japan, Australia, and the Pacific, while some people in places such as New Zealand and South Africa heard about the Baha'i Faith and became Baha'is. In 1916-17, 'Abdu'l-Baha also wrote the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which are regarded as the charter for the planned expansion of the Baha'i Faith.
Shoghi Effendi spent the early part of his ministry establishing the Baha'i administrative system to act as a platform for further expansion. Then in 1937, he launched the North American Baha'i community into the first of a series of systematic plans that would take the Baha'i Faith first into Central and South America and then, after World War II, to those countries in Europe where Baha'i communities had not been established. As other Baha'i communities developed the capacity, they were also given goals to assist in this expansion process. In 1953, the twelve national or regional Baha'i administrative bodies (National Spiritual Assemblies) that were then in existence were given a global ten-year plan. In this, there were numerous goals of establishing Baha'i communities in new countries (there were Baha'is present in 128 countries at this time), purchasing suitable headquarters in each country, and translating Baha'i literature into the languages of these countries. By the end of this plan, the Baha'i Faith had spread to 159 countries with fifty-six National Spiritual Assemblies.
|Countries and Major Territories Opened to the Baha’i Faiths 1863-1963|
|Period of Baha’u’llah’s Ministry (1863—1892)||
|Period of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Ministry (1892—192 1)||
|Period of Shoghi Effendi’s Ministry up to 1953||93 Countries and Major Territories||93||128|
|Ten Year Plan (1953-1963)||131 Countries and Major Territories||131||259|