Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 1,068,302 square miles and a population of 37 million, according to the 2001 census. A 2008 estimate of the population is 40.7 million. Accurate estimates of religious affiliation are difficult to obtain due to legal prohibitions on including religion in the census; however, data from polling conducted by the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism (INADI) from December 2006 to March 2008 produced the following estimates: Roman Catholics, 76 percent of the population; agnostics or atheists, 12 percent; evangelical Protestants, 6 percent; Jews, 1 percent; Jehovah's Witnesses, 1 percent; other Protestants and Muslims, less than 1 percent; other religious groups (including Seventh-day Adventists, Buddhists, and some African and indigenous religions), 1.5 percent; and no declared religious affiliation, 1.2 percent. The INADI-sponsored polls indicate the following strength of religious affiliation: very observant/practicing, 7 percent; somewhat observant, 16 percent; a little observant, 23 percent; non-practicing/believer, 54 percent. Accuracy of estimates are impacted by outdated census data, questionable presumptions and, according to INADI, inaccuracy caused by African and indigenous religious followers experiencing societal pressure to declare themselves Roman Catholic in polls.
The Islamic Center estimates that one out of three Middle Eastern immigrants is Muslim. Syrian and Lebanese descendents, approximately half of whom are Orthodox Catholic or Maronite, constitute a significant portion of the Middle Eastern population. The Muslim community is comprised of 500,000 to 600,000 members, of whom 70 percent are Sunni and 30 percent Shiite, according to estimates by the Sunni-dominated Islamic Center.
Leaders of diverse religious groups noted the recent growth of evangelical Protestant communities due to conversion, principally in newer evangelical churches. Religious leaders also noted the impact of global secularization on religious demography.
Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.
1. The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
2. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.