The country has an area of 25,900 square miles and a population of 4.6 million, including the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are not under the control of the Government. There are strong correlations between ethnic group, religious affiliation, and often, geographic area.
Most ethnic Georgians (84 percent of the population, according to the 2002 census) associate themselves with the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC). Orthodox Christians who are not Georgian accept the territorial jurisdiction of the GOC and generally use the primary language of their communicants (e.g., Russian, Armenian, or Greek). There remain a small number of mostly ethnic Russian adherents of three dissident Orthodox schools: the Molokani, Staroveriy (Old Believers), and Dukhoboriy (Spirit Wrestlers). The existence of radical Georgian Orthodox groups such as David the Builder and Orthodox Parents is recognized, but according to the Patriarchy, they are in no way associated with the GOC.
The Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), Judaism, and Islam have coexisted with Georgian Orthodoxy for centuries. Azeris comprise the second largest ethnic group (approximately 285,000, or 7 percent of the population) and are largely Muslim; most live in the southeastern region of Kvemo-Kartli, where they constitute a majority. Other Muslim groups include the ethnic Georgian Muslims of Ajara and Chechen Kists in the northeastern region, bringing the Muslims up to 10 percent of the population. Armenians are the third largest ethnic group (estimated at 249,000, or 6 percent of the population) and belong predominantly to the AAC; they constitute the majority of the population in the southern Samtskhe-Javakheti region.
There are an estimated 35,000 Catholics, largely ethnic Georgians or Assyrians, and 18,000 Kurdish Yezidis. The ethnic Greek Orthodox community numbers 15,000. There are an estimated 10,000 Jews.
Protestant and other nontraditional denominations such as Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Krishnas have become more active and prominent. Each of these groups represents less than 1 percent of the population.