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Angola

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 33.6 million (midyear 2021).  According to the 2014 national census approximately 41 percent of the population is Roman Catholic and 38 percent Protestant.  Individuals not associated with any religious group constitute 12 percent of the population.  The remaining 9 percent is composed of animists, Muslims, Jews, Baha’is, and other religious groups.  Among Protestants, Tocoists (members of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the World) are the largest group, with 2.8 million adherents, according to the Ministry of Culture’s National Institute for Religious Affairs (INAR).  The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD) reports 500,000 members.  Other major Protestant denominations include Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Baptists, and the Assembly of God Pentecostal.  There is also a small number of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the country.  INAR reports that in 2018, the most recent data available, there were 122,000 Muslims.  INAR states the number has grown considerably since that time.  A leader of one Muslim organization estimated there are 800,000 Muslims in the country, of whom approximately 95 percent are foreign migrants, mainly from North and West African countries.  There are approximately 350 Jews, primarily resident foreign nationals.

Botswana

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 2.4 million (midyear 2021).  According to Botswana’s 2011 Population and Housing Census reporting on the population 12 years and over (the most recent data available), 79 percent of citizens are members of Christian groups, 15 percent espouse no religion, 4 percent are adherents of the Badimo traditional indigenous religious group, and all other religious groups together constitute less than 1 percent of the population.

Anglicans, Methodists, and members of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa make up the majority of Christians.  There are also Lutherans, Roman Catholics, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ), Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Mennonites, and members of the Dutch Reformed Church and other Christian denominations.  According to the 2011 census, there are approximately 11,000 Muslims, many of whom are of South Asian origin.  There are small numbers of Hindus, Baha’is, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jews.  Immigrants and foreign workers are more likely to be members of non-Christian religious groups than native-born citizens.

Eswatini

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 1.1 million (midyear 2021).  Religious leaders estimate that 90 percent of the population is Christian, approximately 2 percent is Muslim (of whom many are not ethnic Swati, the dominant ethnic group in the country), and the remainder belongs to other religious groups, including those with indigenous African beliefs.  According to anecdotal reports, approximately 40 percent of the population practices Zionism, a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship (some adherents of which self-identify as evangelical Christians), while another 20 percent is Roman Catholic.  Zionism is widely practiced in rural areas.  Other religious groups represented include Anglicans, Methodists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jewish and Baha’i communities.

Lesotho

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 2.2 million (midyear 2021).  According to the CCL, approximately 90 percent of the population is Christian.  An Afrobarometer survey from February-March 2020 estimated the Christian population to be 95.1 percent or higher.  The survey found that Protestants, including Anglicans, evangelical Christians, Methodists, members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Pentecostals, Christian Zionists, Baptists, and members of the Church of Christ represent 53.7 percent of the population, and Roman Catholics 41.4 percent.  The rest of the country’s residents include Muslims, Hindus, Baha’is, those who belong to indigenous or other religious groups, and nonbelievers.  Many Christians practice traditional indigenous rituals in conjunction with Christianity.  According to Afrobarometer, Muslims constitute 0.4 percent of the population.  Muslims live primarily in the northern area of the country and in the capital.

Malawi

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 20.3 million (midyear 2021).  According to the 2018 census, 77.3 percent of the population is Christian and 13.8 percent Muslim.  Christian denominations include Roman Catholics at 17.2 percent of the total population, Central Africa Presbyterians at 14.2 percent, Seventh-day Adventist/Seventh-day Baptists (the census groups the two into one category) at 9.4 percent, Anglicans at 2.3 percent, and Pentecostals at 7.6 percent.  Another 26.6 percent fall under the “other Christians” category.  Individuals stating no religious affiliation are 2.1 percent, and 5.6 percent represent other religious groups, including Hindus, Baha’is, Rastafarians, Jews, and Sikhs.

The vast majority of Muslims are Sunni.  Most Sunnis of African descent follow the Shafi’i school of Islamic legal thought, while the smaller community of mostly ethnic Asians primarily follows the Hanafi school.  There is also a small number of Shia Muslims, principally of Lebanese origin.

According to the 2018 census, there are two majority-Muslim districts, Mangochi (72.6 percent) and Machinga (66.9 percent).  These neighboring districts at the southern end of Lake Malawi account for more than half of all Muslims in the country.  Most other Muslims live near the shores of Lake Malawi.  Christians are present throughout the country.

Traditional cultural practices with a spiritual dimension are sometimes practiced by Christians and Muslims.  For example, gule wamkulu spirit dancers remain of importance among ethnic Chewas, who are concentrated in the central region of the country.

Mozambique

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 30.9 million (midyear 2021).  According to 2020 data from the National Statistics Institute, 27 percent of citizens are Catholic, 19 percent Muslim, 17 percent evangelical or Pentecostal Christian, 16 percent Zionist Christian, 2 percent Anglican, and less than 5 percent Jewish, Hindu, and Baha’i.  The remaining 14 percent claim no religious affiliation.  A significant portion of the population adheres to syncretic indigenous religious beliefs, a category not included in government census figures, characterized by a combination of African traditional practices and aspects of either Christianity or Islam.  Because of the unreliability of census data, Muslim leaders continued to state that their community accounts for 25-30 percent of the total population, a statistic frequently reported in the press.  The Muslim population is concentrated in the northern part of the country.

Namibia

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 2.7 million (midyear 2021).  According to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey released in 2015, approximately 97 percent of the population identifies as Christian.  According to church statistics and the government’s 2013 Demographic and Health Survey (the latest government data available), approximately 50 percent identify as Lutheran and 20 percent as Catholic.  Other religious groups, including Anglican, various Reformed denominations, Adventist, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, evangelicals, charismatics, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, make up the remaining 27 percent of the population that is Christian.  The number of Pentecostal and charismatic churches is growing.  Some Zionist churches combine Christianity and traditional African beliefs.  Muslims, Baha’is, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, and other non-Christians together constitute approximately 3 percent of the population and reside primarily in urban areas.

Muslims are predominantly Sunni.  Historically many were immigrants from elsewhere in Africa, South Asia, or recent converts; however, there is a growing indigenous Muslim community of multigenerational families.

South Africa

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 57 million (midyear 2021).  According to a 2010 Pew Research Center report, 81 percent of the population is Christian.  Approximately 15 percent of the population adheres to no particular religion or declined to indicate an affiliation; some of these individuals likely adhere to indigenous beliefs.  Muslims constitute 1.7 percent of the population, of whom the great majority are Sunni.  Shia religious leaders estimate that not more than 3 percent of the Muslim population is Shia.  Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, and adherents of traditional indigenous beliefs together constitute less than 4 percent of the population.  Many indigenous persons adhere to a belief system combining Christian and indigenous religious practices.  The Church of Scientology estimates it has approximately 100,000 members.

The Pew Research Center estimates 84 percent of the Christian population is Protestant, 11 percent Roman Catholic, and 5 percent other denominations (as of 2010, the latest figures available).  African Independent Churches constitute the largest group of Christian churches, including the Zion Christian Church (approximately 11 percent of the population), the Apostolic Church (approximately 10 percent), and charismatic groups.  Other Christian groups include Methodists, Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, and members of the Greek Orthodox, Dutch Reformed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Assemblies of God, and Congregational Churches.

Persons of Indian or other Asian heritage account for 2.5 percent of the total population.  Approximately half of the ethnic Indian population is Hindu, and the majority reside in KwaZulu-Natal Province.  The Muslim community includes Cape Malays of Malayan-Indonesian descent, individuals of Indian or Pakistani descent, and approximately 70,000 Somali nationals and refugees.

According to a 2020 study published by the Isaac and Jessie Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town and the UK-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research, the country’s Jewish population stands at 52,300, with the majority living in Cape Town and Johannesburg.  The study found that the Jewish population declined over the past 20 years primarily because of emigration.

Zambia

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the population at 19.1 million (midyear 2021).  According to Zambia Statistics Agency (ZamStats) estimates, 95.5 percent of the country’s population is Christian.  Of these, 75.3 percent identify as Protestant, and 20.2 percent as Roman Catholic.  Protestant groups with the largest numbers of adherents include the Anglican Church, evangelical Christians, and Pentecostal groups.  According to ZamStats, approximately 2.7 percent of the population is Muslim, with smaller numbers of Hindus, Baha’is, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs.  Even smaller numbers adhere to other belief systems, including indigenous religions and witchcraft, or hold no religious beliefs.  Many persons combine Christianity and indigenous beliefs.

The Muslim community is predominantly Sunni, with small groups of Ismaili and Shia Muslims.  According to the Lusaka Muslim Society, there are approximately 100,000 Muslims in the country, including Congolese and Somali refugees.  Both Sunni and Shia Muslims are primarily concentrated in Lusaka, Eastern, and Copperbelt Provinces.  Many are immigrants or the children of immigrants from South Asia, Somalia, and the Middle East who have acquired citizenship.  Hindus, mostly of South Asian descent, are located largely in the Eastern, Copperbelt, and Lusaka Provinces and estimate the size of their community at 10,000 as of 2019.  There are small numbers of Jews, mostly in Lusaka and Northern Province.

 

Zimbabwe

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 14.8 million (midyear 2021).  According to the 2015 nationwide Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the government statistics agency, the most recent such survey, 86 percent of the population is Christian – 37 percent Apostolic, 21 percent Pentecostal, 16 percent other Protestant, 7 percent Roman Catholic, and 5 percent other Christian.  According to the survey, 11 percent of the population reports no religious affiliation, less than 2 percent adheres uniquely to traditional beliefs, and less than 1 percent is Muslim.

While there are no reliable statistics regarding the percentage of the Christian population that is syncretic, many Christians also associate themselves with traditional practices, and religious leaders report a continued increase in syncretism.

Most of the Muslim population lives in rural areas and some high-density suburbs, with smaller numbers living in other suburban neighborhoods.  There are also small numbers of Greek Orthodox, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’is, and humanists.  Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities describe their membership as aging and diminishing in numbers.

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