Papua New Guinea
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Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1

Papua New Guinea Melanesia World
Baha'i 0.9% 0.8% 0.1%
Buddhist 0.2% 0.2% 7.2%
Chinese Universalist <0.1% <0.1% 6.3%
Christian 94.8% 91.5% 32.8%
Confucianist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Ethnoreligionist 3.4% 3.0% 3.5%
Hindu <0.1% 2.7% 13.8%
Jain 0.0% <0.1% <0.1%
Jewish <0.1% <0.1% 0.2%
Muslim <0.1% 0.7% 22.5%
Shintoist 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Sikh 0.0% <0.1% 0.3%
Spiritist 0.0% 0.0% 0.2%
Taoist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Zoroastrian 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Neoreligionists <0.1% <0.1% 0.9%
Atheist <0.1% <0.1% 2.0%
Agnostic 0.6% 0.9% 9.8%

Religious Demography2

The country is an island nation with an area of 280,773 square miles and a population of 6.7 million. According to the 2000 census, 96 percent of citizens identify themselves as members of a Christian church. Churches with the most members are Roman Catholic, 30 percent; Evangelical Lutheran, 20 percent; United Church, 11.5 percent; Seventh-day Adventist, 10 percent; Pentecostal, 8.6 percent; Evangelical Alliance, 5.2 percent; Anglican, 3.2 percent; Baptist, 2.5 percent; and the Salvation Army, 0.2 percent. Other Christian groups, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and the Jehovah's Witnesses, constitute 8 percent. There are approximately 15,000 Baha'is and 2,000 Muslims. Many citizens integrate Christian faith with some indigenous beliefs and practices.

Western missionaries introduced Christianity to the country in the 19th century. Colonial governments initially assigned different missions to different geographic regions. Since territory in the country is aligned strongly with language group and ethnicity, this colonial policy led to the identification of certain churches with certain ethnic groups. However, churches of all denominations are now found throughout the country. The Muslim community has a mosque in the capital of Port Moresby with the capacity for 1,500 worshipers. There are seven Islamic centers. There are concentrations of Muslims in Port Moresby, Baimuru, Chimbu, Daru, Marshall Lagoon, the Musa Valley, and on the islands of New Britain and New Ireland.

Nontraditional Christian and non-Christian religious groups are active throughout the country. According to the Papua New Guinea Council of Churches, both Muslim and Confucian missionaries have become active. Pentecostal and charismatic Christian groups have found converts within the congregations of the more established churches.

Missionaries of many traditions operate freely. The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) partnered with the Department of Education and local communities in linguistic research, literacy, Bible translation, Scripture use, and training. The Department of Education relies on SIL to produce translations of the Bible for government-sponsored religious instruction in schools. As of June 2008, SIL had translated the New Testament into 166 of the country's indigenous languages.


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.

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