Costa Rica
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Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1

Costa Rica Central America World
Baha'i 0.3% 0.1% 0.1%
Buddhist <0.1% <0.1% 7.2%
Chinese Universalist 0.5% <0.1% 6.3%
Christian 95.8% 95.9% 32.8%
Confucianist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Ethnoreligionist 0.2% 1.0% 3.5%
Hindu <0.1% <0.1% 13.8%
Jain 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Jewish <0.1% <0.1% 0.2%
Muslim 0.0% <0.1% 22.5%
Shintoist 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Sikh 0.0% <0.1% 0.3%
Spiritist <0.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Taoist 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Zoroastrian 0.0% 0.0% <0.1%
Neoreligionists 0.0% <0.1% 0.9%
Atheist 0.2% 0.2% 2.0%
Agnostic 2.8% 2.4% 9.8%

Religious Demography2

The country has an area of 19,730 square miles and a population of 4.4 million, according to the National Institute of Census and Statistics. The most recent countrywide survey of religion, conducted in 2007 by the University of Costa Rica, found that 44.9 percent of the population identify themselves as practicing Roman Catholics, 25.6 percent non-practicing Roman Catholics, 13.8 percent evangelical Protestants, 11.3 percent report they do not have a religious affiliation, and 4.3 percent declare "another religion."

Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Baptist, and other Protestant groups have significant membership. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) claims membership of 35,000 and has a temple in San Jose that serves the country and Panama. The Lutheran Church estimates it has 5,000 members in 30 communities, and the Jewish Zionist Center of Costa Rica estimates there are 2,500 Orthodox Jews and, 300 Reform Jews. An estimated 1,000 Quakers are found in the cloud forest reserve of Monteverde, Puntarenas and an additional 1,000 attend Quaker meetings as nonmembers throughout the country. Although they represent less than 1 percent of the population, Jehovah's Witnesses have a strong presence on the Caribbean coast. Seventh-day Adventists operate a university that attracts students from throughout the Caribbean Basin. The Unification Church has its continental headquarters for Latin America in San Jose. Other groups, including followers of Islam, Taoism, Hare Krishna, Scientology, Tenrikyo, and the Baha'i Faith, claim membership throughout the country, with the majority of worshippers residing in the Central Valley (the area that includes San Jose). While there is no general correlation between religious affiliation and ethnicity, indigenous peoples are more likely to practice animism than other religions.


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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