Society

European Countries With the Largest Muslim Populations

Past Ottoman influences in Southern Europe and immigration from Muslim countries into Western Europe are major influences on contemporary society across the continent.

Muslims first gained entry into Europe in 711 when Umayyad conquered Hispania. In 732 they were defeated in the Battle of Tour in France and driven towards the South of Europe. In the 7th and 13th Century, Islam entered the present day Russia and Bulgaria in the eastern and southern Europe where Muslims conquered Persia, establishing the Ottoman Empire. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Ottoman Empire expanded, taking a huge portion of Europe. However, the empire collapsed in 1922 living behind an enormous Muslim influence in countries like Bosnia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Albania, and Macedonia. Today, some of the European countries with a significant Muslim population include:

1. Turkey - 98.6%

Islamic history in Turkey dates back to 11th century when Seljuk exapnded into Anatolia. Religious polls conducted in the country suggested that 98.6% of the Turkish population identifies with Islam while the majority of the remaining 1% are non-religious. The majority of Turkey's Muslims are Sunnis, accounting for 73% of the Muslim population while the remaining consists of Alevis, Alawite, and Jafari communities. Although Turkey is dominated by Muslims, the government considers the country a secular state giving freedom to all religions and prohibits religious practices in public institutions and government offices. The government also monitors most of the Muslim activities through the ministry of religious affairs.

2. Kosovo - 95.6%

Kosovo’s Islam history dates back to Ottoman Empire and its conquest of the Balkans. The Balkan region was a Christian religion until the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. The Ottoman Empire was established in Kosovo in the period between 1389 and 1922 where Islamization was significant. When Kosovo was later ruled by secular authorities after the Second World War, the effect of Islamization by the Ottoman Empire could not be reversed. Today, 95.6% of Kosovo's population identifies with Islam with the majority having a Muslim background from Albanians and Slavic Muslims. The major political party in Kosovo, Justice Party, still commits to the traditional Islamic values in its program.

3. Albania - 58.79%

The majority of Albanians were converted to Islam during the Ottoman rule in the 14th century. Muslims in Albania fall mainly into two denominations: Shia or Bektashi and Sunni. In the 20th Century, the country passed an Albanian National Awakening that was aimed at de-emphasizing religion through a systematic religionization of both the nation and culture. Through ANA, Islam was significantly changed and declined in popularity. Muslim traditions were also affected by decades of state atheism that lasted until 1991. The lifting of religious restrictions in the post-communist rule led to a revival of Muslim in Albania. Currently 58.79% of the Albanian population practices Islam with the majority of the Muslims being Sunni. Because of the persecution during the Communist rule, most of the Muslims in the country are not natives but cultural Muslims.

Conclusion

More than 10% of the population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Cyprus, Montenegro, and Georgia are Islamic adherents. The majority of Muslims in these countries are cultured Muslims brought about as a result of migration and the effect of Ottoman Empire. Muslim population is growing at a rapid rate, and the number is projected to be even higher in the coming years

European Countries With Large Muslim Populations

RankCountryPercentage of Population Who Identifies With Islam (%)
1 Turkey98.6
2 Kosovo95.6
3Albania58.8
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina50.7
5 Macedonia33.3
6 Cyprus22.7
7 Montenegro19.11
8 Georgia10.5
9 Sweden8.1
10 Austria8
11 Bulgaria7.8
12 France7.5
13 Guyana7.2
14 Russia6.5 - 15
15 Belgium5.9

More in Society