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In the brief course of its 150-year history, the Bahá'í Faith has transformed itself from an obscure Middle Eastern sect into a fast-growing religion that has established itself in every country of the world and is rapidly emerging out of obscurity to take its place alongside older more established world religions.
The religion has grown and developed greatly in terms of its numerical strength, geographical spread, and community organisation. The largest Bahá'í communities are now in South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and (relative to the size of the population) in some of the islands of the Pacific. In these parts of the world, some villages and areas are more or less completely Bahá'í. Here the Bahá'ís have initiated educational, agricultural and community development projects. The latest available official Bahá'í statistics (1994) state that there are between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world; that Bahá'ís live in over 110,000 localities; that there are over 17,000 places where there are organized Bahá'í communities with elected local councils (Local Spiritual Assemblies); and 172 national elected bodies (National Spiritual Assemblies).
We desire but the good of the world and happiness of the nations.... That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled... Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the "Most Great Peace" shall come.... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family.... Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.... (words spoken by Bahá'u'lláh to Prof. E.G. Browne of Cambridge University in 1890)
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