Timor-Leste
 National Profiles > Regions > South-Eastern Asia > Timor-Leste
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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Catholic

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Catholic (80.7%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Timor-Leste South-Eastern Asia World
Christian (all denominations combined) 85.8% 22% 29.9%
 
  • Catholic
  • 80.7% 15.7% 15%
     
  • Protestant
  • 4.6% 4% 5.6%
     
  • Pentecostal
  • 0.5% 1.8% 2.8%
     
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • < 0.1% 0.6% 2.3%
    Ethnoreligionist (incl. Animist, Shamanist) 9.4% 4.3% 2.5%
    Muslim (all denominations combined) 4% 36.6% 22.8%
     
  • Sunni Muslim
  • 4% 36.5% 19%
    Other Religionist 0.4% < 0.1% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 0.4% 3.9% 12%

    Religious Demography3

    The country has an area of 5,406 square miles and a population of 1.1 million. According to a 2005 report from the World Bank, 98 percent of the population is Catholic, 1 percent Protestant, and less than 1 percent Muslim. Most citizens also retain some vestiges of animistic beliefs and practices, which they have come to regard as more cultural than religious.

    The country had a significant Muslim population during the Indonesian occupation, composed mostly of ethnic Malay immigrants from Indonesian islands. There also were a few ethnic Timorese converts to Islam, as well as a small number descended from Arab Muslims living in the country while it was under Portuguese authority. The latter group was well integrated into society, but ethnic Malay Muslims often were not, and only a few hundred remained in the country following independence in 2002.


    Sources

    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    3.  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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