Map: Islam's sectarian split
How Shia and Sunni Muslim populations are divided in the Middle East and neighbouring countries
Last Updated: August 1, 2013
Sunni Muslims form a majority of global Islam, while the Shia sect represents just 12 per cent of the overall faith. But the Shia are an influential and active community in several key Middle Eastern countries.
They form a majority in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Bahrain — as shown in the map below.
In many countries, the two Muslim groups — who agree on the Islam's core principles but have key differences dating back to the religion's earliest days — coexist with varying degrees of unease.
And in countries from Iraq to Syria, that friction has escalated to deadly violence in recent years.
Sources: Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life, CIA World Factbook