Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1
The country has an area of 43,483 square miles and a population of 8.3 million. According to the 2002 census, 27 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 24 percent Muslim, 17 percent practitioners of Voodoo (also known as Vodun), 6 percent adherents of other traditional indigenous beliefs, and 5 percent Celestial Christians. Groups with less than 5 percent each include Methodists, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah's Witnesses, Rosicrucians, the Unification Church, Eckankar, Baha'is, Baptists, Assemblies of God, and Pentecostals. Seven percent claim no religious affiliation.
Many individuals who identify themselves as Christian or Muslim also practice Voodoo or other traditional local religions.
Nearly all Muslims are Sunni. The few Shi'a Muslims are primarily Middle Eastern expatriates.
There are Christians, Muslims, and adherents of traditional local religious groups throughout the country. However, Muslims are represented most heavily in the north and southeast, while Christians are prevalent in the south, particularly in Cotonou.
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.