The country has an area of 919,595 square miles and a population of 36 million. More than 99 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. There is a small community of Ibadi Muslims in the province of Ghardaia. Unofficial estimates of the number of Christian and Jewish citizens vary between 12,000 and 50,000. The vast majority of Christians and Jews fled the country following independence from France in 1962. In the 1990s, many of the remaining Christians and Jews emigrated due to acts of terrorism committed by Muslim extremists. According to Christian community leaders, evangelical Christians, mostly in the Kabylie region, account for the largest number of Christians, followed by Methodists and members of other Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, and Seventh-day Adventists. A significant proportion of Christian foreign residents are students and illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa seeking to reach Europe; their numbers are difficult to estimate.
For security reasons, due mainly to the civil conflict, Christians concentrated in the large cities of Algiers, Annaba, and Oran in the mid-1990s.
During the reporting period, the press occasionally reported that Christian proselytizing had resulted in significant numbers of Muslims in the Kabylie region converting to Christianity; however, Christian sources reported those figures as exaggerated. There were no standardized statistics on the number of religious conversions. Reporting suggests that citizens, not foreigners, made up the majority of those actively proselytizing in Kabylie.
Since 1994 the Jewish community has diminished to less than 2,000 members due to fears of terrorist violence. The Jewish community was not active, and the synagogues remained closed.
In Algiers, church services are attended primarily by members of the diplomatic community, expatriate Westerners, sub-Saharan African migrants, and a few local Christians.