Which Countries Have Theocracies?

The only two modern countries that are true theocracies are Iran and Vatican City. These are the only two countries in which there is a state religion and the head of the government is chosen through some form of religious hierarchy. In Iran, the state religion is Islam, and the head of the country is the Grand Ayatollah. In Vatican City, the state religion is Roman Catholicism, and the country's leader is the Pope.

Several other countries are also commonly considered theocracies but are not officially organized as such. For example, Yemen, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Somalia, as well as Sudan and Mauritania, are all Islamic states, but they are not officially led by religious leaders. Instead, these countries have adopted some other form of government, such as a democracy or republic, but have been traditionally ruled by religious figures or have been strongly controlled by religious groups. Most of these countries exercise their religious power over citizens through a ceremonial head of state such as a king, prime minister or president.

Political and religious scholars do not always agree on whether a specific state should be classified as a theocracy or not. For example, some countries that recognize a state religion are also controlled by religious heads of state, but may not have a strong religious agenda. This leads to difficulty in classifying a country as a theocracy. Similarly, some describe the group founded by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as theocratic, while others consider it a terrorist organization, resulting in the lack of a concrete classification for the group.