Azerbaijan - Religions



For most of the 20th century, from 1920 to 1991, the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic observed the restrictions in religious belief and practice common throughout the former Soviet Union. According to statistics available after the declaration of independence of 30 August 1991, the population was 87% Muslim (70% of whom were Shi'as, and 17% were Sunnis). Because of the Persian influence on Azerbaijan, most Azerbaijanis are Shiites, even though all the other Turkic groups of the former Soviet Union are Sunni Muslims. In 1995 estimates, 93.4% of the population were Muslim; 2.5% were Russian Orthodox; 2.3% were Armenian Orthodox; other religions accounted for only 1.8%.

Islam (both Shi'a and Sunni), Russian Orthodox, and Judaism are considered to be traditional religions of the country. There are small communities of Evangelical Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Molokans (an older branch of Russian Orthodox), Seventh-Day Adventists, Baha'is, Wahhabist Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Hare Krishnas.

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