Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 496,225 square miles and a population of 28.2 million according to the 2007 census. Among the major religious groups are Roman Catholics, various Protestant denominations (including Baptist, Anglican, and Assembly of God), Seventh-day Adventists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Baha'is, Hare Krishnas, and Muslims. There also are indigenous communities practicing various forms of pre-Columbian and syncretistic (blending Christian and pre-Columbian) beliefs, as well as a local religious group, the Israelites of the New Universal Pact, which is unrelated to Israel or Judaism.
The results of the 2007 National Census had not been published by the end of the reporting period, but a question regarding religious affiliation sparked controversy, and the President publicly recommended that it be left blank. The 2006 National Continuous Census conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INEI) finds that 85 percent of the population is Catholic and 11 percent Protestant; the remaining 4 percent includes Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Israelites of the New Universal Pact. The Episcopal Commission for Social Action (CEAS), a Catholic nongovernmental organization (NGO), estimates that 5 percent of Catholics regularly attend Mass.
In the last 20 years, according to some estimates, Protestant (mostly evangelical) representation in the population grew from approximately 2 percent to 15 percent. The National Evangelical Council (CONEP) estimates that evangelicals represent at least 15 percent of the population. Historically, they resided in smaller communities outside of Lima and in rural areas; in the last 15 years their presence in urban areas increased significantly. There are small Jewish populations in Lima and Cuzco, and small Muslim communities in Lima (mostly of Palestinian origin) and Tacna (mostly of Pakistani origin). The founder of the Israelites of the New Universal Pact organized the group in 1960 in Junín Department, but since his death in 2000 the membership has sharply declined; most adherents are concentrated in and near Lima. Some Catholics combine indigenous worship with Catholic traditions, especially in the Andean highlands. Some indigenous people in the remote eastern jungles also practice traditional faiths.
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.