The country has an area of 77,181 square miles and a population of 5.2 million. Data from a 2008 National Statistics Committee report indicated the following ethnic breakdown: Kyrgyz, 69.2 percent; Uzbeks, 14.5 percent; Russians, 8.7 percent; Dungans (ethnic Chinese Muslims), 1.2 percent; Uighurs (ethnic Turkic Muslims), 1 percent; and other ethnicities, 5.4 percent.
Islam is the most widely held faith. Official sources estimated that 80 percent of the population is Muslim. Almost all Muslims are Sunni; there are approximately 1,000 Shi'a. According to SARA, as of June 2009 there were 1,706 mosques, of which 1,679 were registered. There also were seven institutes for higher Islamic teaching. According to recent official estimates, 11 percent of the population is Russian Orthodox, although some experts believe the figure could be as low as 8 percent. The country has 44 Russian Orthodox churches, one Russian Orthodox monastery for women, and one parochial school, as well as two Russian Old Believer churches.
Other religious groups account for a smaller percentage of the population. Of those, the Protestant Church of Jesus Christ is the largest, with an estimated 11,000 members, of whom approximately 40 percent are ethnic Kyrgyz. The overall Protestant population includes 48 registered Baptist churches and 21 Lutheran, 49 Pentecostal, 35 Presbyterian, 43 "Charismatic," 49 Jehovah's Witnesses, and 30 Seventh-day Adventist communities. There are three Roman Catholic churches. The small Jewish community has one synagogue and organizes internal cultural studies and humanitarian services, chiefly food assistance for the elderly and persons with disabilities regardless of faith. One Buddhist temple serves the small Buddhist community. There are 12 registered Baha'i houses of worship. During the reporting period, SARA approved the registration of an additional three Islamic and two Christian religious education institutions and 61 Islamic and Christian religious organizations.
Islam is practiced widely throughout the country in both urban and rural areas. Russian Orthodox believers typically are concentrated in cities with a larger ethnic Russian population. Other religious groups more commonly practice in the cities where their smaller communities tend to be concentrated. There is a correlation between ethnicity and religion; ethnic Kyrgyz are primarily Muslims, while ethnic Russians usually belong to either the Russian Orthodox Church or one of the Protestant denominations. However, some Christian pastors noted a growing number of ethnic Kyrgyz converts to Christianity. While there are no data available on active participation in formal religious services, a significant number of Muslims and Russian Orthodox adherents appear to be nominal believers and do not practice their faith actively. Religious practice in the south is more traditional and devout than in other regions.