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Burma

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 56.9 million (July 2016 estimate). According to the most recently available estimates, approximately 88 percent are Theravada Buddhists. Approximately 6 percent are Christians (primarily Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Anglicans, along with several small Protestant denominations). Muslims (mostly Sunni) comprise approximately 4 percent of the population. The Rohingya population, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, is estimated at approximately 1 million by NGOs, with more than 800,000 stateless individuals in Rakhine State, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are small communities of Hindus and practitioners of traditional Chinese and indigenous religions. There is a very small Jewish community in Rangoon.

There is significant correlation between ethnicity and religion. Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion among the majority Bamar ethnic group and also among the Shan, Rakhine, and Mon ethnic groups. Christianity is dominant among the Kachin, Chin, and Naga ethnic groups. Christianity also is practiced widely among the Karen and Karenni ethnic groups, although many Karen and Karenni are Buddhist and some Karen are Muslim. People of South Asian ancestry, who are concentrated in major cities and in the south central region, are predominantly Hindu or Muslim, although some are Christian. Islam is practiced widely in Rakhine State and in Rangoon, Irrawaddy, Magwe, and Mandalay Divisions by some Bamar and ethnic Indians as well as ethnic Kaman Muslims and Rohingya. Chinese ethnic minorities generally practice traditional Chinese religions and to a lesser extent Islam and Christianity. Traditional indigenous beliefs are practiced widely among smaller ethnic groups in the highland regions.

International Religious Freedom Reports
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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future