The country has an area of 55,300 square miles and a population of more than seven million. According to local academic experts, the percentage of citizens who are Muslim is 97 percent. The President claimed the number is 99 percent; however, the degree of religious observance varies widely. Overall, active observance of Islam appears to be increasing steadily, especially among city residents and those under the age of 20. The majority of Muslim inhabitants adhere to the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. Approximately 4 percent of Muslims are Ismaili, the majority of whom reside in the remote eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, some districts in Khatlon Region, and in Dushanbe, the capital. The country has approximately 2,980 registered mosques for daily prayers and 259 Friday prayer mosques (larger facilities built for weekly Friday prayers). Neither of these figures includes Ismaili places of worship (Jamoatkhonas).
There are 83 non-Muslim groups registered with the Department of Religious Affairs (DRA),which is part of the Ministry of Culture. The Government banned two locally operating Christian groups--the "Hayoti Farovon" (Abundant Life) and the Jehovah's Witnesses--in December 2008 and January 2009, respectively. Approximately 150,000 Christians, mostly ethnic Russians and other Soviet-era immigrants, reside in the country. The largest Christian group is Russian Orthodox; other registered organizations include Baptists, Roman Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Lutherans, and Korean Protestants. Other religious minorities include Baha'is, Zoroastrians, and Jews. Each of these groups is very small, and nearly all their members live in Dushanbe or other large cities. Some religious communities have been banned or denied registration, including the Jehovah's Witnesses. An estimated 0.01 percent of the population is atheist or does not belong to any religious denomination.