The “-stan” suffix, when attached to a nation or territory, is a different version of the “-land” suffix attached to European countries.
Though most people are acquainted with Afghanistan, many have barely heard of such Central Asian nations as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—which used to be part of the USSR.
Unless you’re on an army base, it’s practically impossible to be Catholic in Afghanistan. But Catholicism is a possibility in the other -stans, although in some cases Catholics are such a tiny minority that they’re virtually invisible.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Pope John Paul II formed an Apostolic Administration in Central Asia, which consisted largely of a Muslim majority and some leftover Soviet atheism.
Christians, though they are in the minority, account for a sizeable portion of the population in much of Central Asia. However, the vast lot of Christians are Orthodox, not Roman Catholics. Of these Roman Catholics, most are descendants of Europeans exiled to Central Asia during Joseph Stalin’s tenure and the repressive heyday of the Soviet regime.
Read more at Catholic World Report.