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Brazil

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 208.8 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to a 2016 Datafolha survey, 50 percent of the population identified as Catholic, compared with 60 percent in 2014.  During the same period, the proportion of atheists increased from 6 percent to 14 percent, and the proportion of evangelical Protestants increased from 24 percent to 31 percent.  According to the 2010 census, 65 percent of the population is Catholic and 22 percent is Protestant.  Adherents of other Christian groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as followers of non-Christian religions, including Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and African and syncretic religious groups such as Candomble and Umbanda, comprise a combined 5 percent of the population.  Some Christians also practice Candomble and Umbanda.  Those identifying with no religion comprise 8 percent of the population.

According to the 2010 census, approximately 35,200 Muslims live in the country, while the Federation of Muslim Associations of Brazil states the number at approximately 1.5 million.  Some observers say the discrepancy in numbers may be because the 1.5 million figure may include the entire Arab-Brazilian population, all of whom the federation may assume are Muslim, but many of whom are Christian or adhere to other faiths.  Religious scholars estimate the actual number of Muslims to be between 400,000 and 500,000.  There are significant numbers of Muslims in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, and Foz do Iguazu, as well as in smaller cities in the states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul.

According to the Jewish Confederation of Brazil, there are approximately 125,000 Jews, 65,000 of whom reside in Sao Paulo State and 25,000 in Rio de Janeiro State.  Many other cities have smaller Jewish communities.

Chile

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 17.9 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to ONAR estimates in September, approximately 60 percent of the population self-identifies as Roman Catholic and an estimated 18 percent identifies as “evangelical,” a term used in the country to refer to all non-Catholic Christian groups, including Episcopalians, but not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Churches (including the Armenian, Greek, Persian, Serbian, and Ukrainian communities), and Seventh-day Adventists.  In the most recent census that included religious affiliation, conducted in 2002, Baha’is, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, members of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), Church of Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of the Orthodox Churches, Seventh-day Adventists, and unspecified members of religious groups together constituted less than 5 percent of the population.  An estimated 4 percent of the population identifies as atheist or agnostic, while 17 percent of the population identifies as nonreligious.  According to ONAR, 9 percent of the population self-identifies as indigenous, of which approximately 30 percent identify as Catholic, 38 percent as evangelical, and 6 percent identify as other; the remaining 26 percent did not identify with any religion.  ONAR states that many of those individuals also incorporate traditional indigenous faith practices into their worship.

Costa Rica

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 5 million (July 2018 estimate).  A March survey by the Center for Research and Political Studies of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) estimates 52 percent of the population is Catholic (compared with 71.8 percent in UCR’s 2016 survey); 22 percent Protestant, including evangelical Protestants (compared with 12.3 percent in the 2016 survey); 9 percent other religious groups (compared with 2.9 percent in 2016); and 17 percent without religious affiliation (compared with 12.3 percent in 2016).

The majority of Protestants are Pentecostal, with smaller numbers of Lutherans and Baptists.  There are an estimated 32,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, predominantly on the Caribbean coast.  The Church of Jesus Christ estimates its membership at 50,000.  The Jewish Zionist Center estimates there are between 3,000 and 3,500 Jews in the country.  Approximately 1,000 Quakers live near the cloud forest reserve of Monteverde, Puntarenas.  Smaller groups include followers of Islam, Taoism, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, Scientology, Tenrikyo, and the Baha’i Faith.  Some members of indigenous groups practice animism.

Ecuador

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 16.5 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to a 2012 survey by the National Institute of Statistics and Census, the most recent government survey available, approximately 92 percent of the population professes a religious affiliation or belief.  Of those, 80.4 percent is Roman Catholic; 11.3 percent evangelical Christian, including Pentecostals; and 1.3 percent Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Seven percent belongs to other religious groups, including Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, the Church of Jesus Christ, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, the Greek Orthodox-affiliated Orthodox Church of Ecuador and Latin America, Presbyterians, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), Baha’is, spiritualists, followers of Inti (the traditional Inca sun god), and indigenous and African faiths.  There are also practitioners of Santeria, primarily resident Cubans.

Some groups, particularly those in the Amazon jungle, combine indigenous beliefs with Catholicism.  Pentecostals draw much of their membership from indigenous persons in the highland provinces.  There are Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the country, with the highest concentrations in coastal areas.  Muslim, Church of Jesus Christ, Jewish, and Buddhist populations are primarily concentrated in large urban areas, particularly Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca.  Many evangelical Christian churches are not affiliated with a particular denomination.

El Salvador

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 6.2 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to a May survey by the University of Central America’s Institute of Public Opinion, 45.9 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, 35.5 percent as evangelical Protestant, and 14.3 percent with no religious affiliation.  Approximately 4.4 percent state “other,” which includes Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Muslims, Baha’is, Jews, Buddhists, and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.  A small segment of the population adheres to indigenous religious beliefs, with some mixing of these beliefs with Christianity and Islam.  Muslim leaders estimate there are approximately 20,000 Muslims.

Guatemala

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 16.58 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to a 2016 survey by ProDatos, approximately 45 percent of the population is Catholic and 42 percent Protestant.  Approximately 11 percent of the population professes no religious affiliation.  Groups together constituting less than 3 percent of the population include Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and adherents of the Mayan, Xinca, and Afro-Indigenous Garifuna religions.

Christian groups include the Full Gospel Church, Assemblies of God, Central American Church, Prince of Peace Church, independent evangelical Protestant groups, Baptists, the Church of Jesus Christ, Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Russian Orthodox, and Seventh-day Adventists.

Catholics and Protestants are present throughout the country, with adherents among all major ethnic groups.  According to leaders of Mayan spiritual organizations, as well as Catholic and Protestant clergy, many indigenous Catholics and some indigenous Protestants practice some form of syncretism with indigenous spiritual rituals, mainly in the eastern city of Livingston and in the southern region of the country.

According to Jewish community leadership, approximately 1,000 Jews live in the country.  Muslim leaders stated there are approximately 1,200 Muslims of mostly Palestinian origin, who reside primarily in Guatemala City.  According to local Ahmadi Muslims, there is a small Ahmadi community of approximately 70 members.

Guyana

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 741,000 (July 2018 estimate).  According to the country’s 2012 census, 64 percent of the population is Christian, 25 percent Hindu, 7 percent Muslim (mainly Sunni), and less than 1 percent belongs to other religious groups.  Groups that together constitute less than 1 percent of the population include Rastafarians and Baha’is.  An estimated 3 percent of the population does not profess a religious affiliation.  Among Christians, Pentecostals comprise 23 percent of the national population; Roman Catholics, 7 percent; Anglicans, 5 percent; Seventh-day Adventists, 5 percent; Methodists, 1 percent; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ), less than 1 percent, and other Christians, 21 percent.  The 21 percent includes Christians who belong to the Assembly of God Church, Church of Christ, and African Episcopal Methodist Zion Church, among others.  The Church of Jesus Christ estimates its membership at approximately 5,800.

The membership of most religious groups includes a cross section of ethnic groups, although nearly all Hindus are of South Asian descent and most Rastafarians are of African descent.

Paraguay

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 7.0 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to the 2002 national census, the most recent survey reporting religious affiliation, 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic (a 2014 Latinobarometro report estimated 88 percent is Roman Catholic) and 6 percent evangelical Protestant.  Groups that together constitute 4 percent of the population include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, the Church of Jesus Christ, Muslims, Buddhists, Mennonites, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), and adherents of indigenous tribal beliefs.  Members of the Mennonite Church, whom Church leaders estimated to be between 30,000 and 46,000, are prominent in the remote areas of the central Chaco and some eastern regions of the country.  ICCAN estimated its membership at more than 100,000.

Peru

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 31.3 million (July 2018).  The 2017 national census reported the population as 76 percent Catholic (81 percent in 2007); 14 percent Protestant (mainly evangelical Protestant compared with 13 percent in 2007); 5.1 percent nonreligious; and 4.9 percent other religious groups.  The other religious groups include Jews, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Jesus Christ, Israelites of the New Universal Pact, Baha’is, Buddhists, Orthodox Christians (primarily Russian and Greek), and the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

According to the Israel Information Center for Latin America, approximately 3,000 Jews reside in the country, primarily in Lima, Cusco, and Iquitos.  According to the Muslim community, approximately 2,600 Muslims live in the country, with 2,000 in Lima and 600 in the Tacna region.  Lima’s Muslim community is approximately half-Arab in origin and half local converts, while Tacna’s is mostly Pakistani.  The majority of Muslims are Sunni.

Some indigenous peoples in the far eastern Amazonian jungles practice traditional faiths.  Many indigenous communities, particularly Catholics in the Andean highlands, practice a syncretic faith blending Christian and pre-Columbian beliefs.

Suriname

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the population at 598,000 (July 2018 estimate).  According to the 2012 census, the most recent available, more than 48 percent of the population is Christian (26 percent Protestant, 22 percent Roman Catholic, 3 percent other Christian).  Other Christian groups include Moravian, Lutheran, Dutch Reformed, evangelical Protestant, Baptist, Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Hindus are 22 percent of the population, including the Sanathan Dharm and the Arya Dewaker.  Muslims, including Sunni and Ahmadi Muslims and the World Islamic Call Society, are 14 percent.  The remaining 13 percent includes Baha’is, Jews, Buddhists, Brahma Kumaris, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and three Rastafarian organizations:  the Aya Bingi Order, 12th Tribe, and Bobo Shanti.

Some Amerindian and Maroon populations, approximately 3 percent of the population, adhere to indigenous religions.  Certain Amerindian groups, concentrated principally in the interior and to a lesser extent in coastal areas, practice shamanism through a medicine man (piaiman).  Many Maroons worship nature.  Those of Amerindian and Maroon origin who identify as Christian often combine Christian practices with indigenous religious customs.  Some Creoles in urban areas worship their ancestors through a rite called wintie.

There is some correlation between ethnicity and religion.  The Hindustani-speaking population is primarily Hindu, while some ethnic Indians, Javanese, and Creoles practice Islam.  Christianity crosses all ethnic backgrounds.

Trinidad and Tobago

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 1.2 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to the 2011 census, 26.5 percent of the population is Protestant, including 12 percent Pentecostal or evangelical Christian, 5.7 percent Anglican, 4.1 percent Seventh-day Adventist, 2.5 percent Presbyterian or Congregational, 1.2 percent Baptist, 0.7 percent Methodist, and 0.3 percent Moravian.  An additional 21.6 percent is Roman Catholic, 18.2 percent Hindu, 5 percent Muslim, and 1.5 percent Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Traditional Caribbean religious groups with African roots include the Spiritual/Shouter Baptists, who represent 5.7 percent of the population, and the Orisha, who incorporate elements of West African spiritualism and Christianity, at 0.9 percent.  According to the census, 2.2 percent of the population has no religious affiliation, 11.1 percent does not state a religious affiliation, and 7.5 percent lists their affiliation as “other,” which includes several small Christian groups, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as Baha’is, Rastafarians, Buddhists, and Jews.

The religious composition of the two islands varies distinctly.  On Trinidad, the island with 95 percent of the country’s total population, those of African descent make up 32 percent of the population and are predominantly Christian.  A small, primarily Sunni Muslim community is concentrated in and around Port of Spain, along the east-west corridor of northern Trinidad, and in certain areas of central and south Trinidad.  Those of East Indian descent constitute 37 percent of the population, approximately half of whom are Hindu, in addition to Muslims, Presbyterians, and Catholics.  The population of Tobago is 85 percent of African descent and predominantly Christian.

Uruguay

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 3.4 million (July 2018 estimate).  According to a 2014 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of the population self-identifies as Christian (42 percent Catholic and 15 percent Protestant), 37 percent as religious but unaffiliated, and 6 percent as other.  Groups together constituting less than 5 percent of the population include Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baha’is, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ), the Valdense Church, Afro-Umbandists (who blend elements of Catholicism with animism and African and indigenous beliefs), Buddhists, members of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Unification Church), Brahma Kumaris, and others.  According to the survey, 0.3 percent of the population is Jewish and 0.1 percent Hindu.  Jewish organizations state there are approximately 20,000 Jews living in the country (approximately 0.6 percent).  A 2014 Pew Research Center survey states 0.1 percent of the population self-identifies as Muslim.  Civil society experts estimate there are only between 700 and 1,500 Muslims (0.02 to 0.04 percent), mostly living near the border with Brazil.

Venezuela

Section I. Religious Demography

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 31.7 million (July 2018 estimate).  This number, however, does not reflect the UN November 8 estimate that approximately three million Venezuelan refugees and migrants had left the country during the past few years.  The U.S. government estimates that 96 percent of the population is Catholic.  The remaining population includes evangelical Protestants, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church of Jesus Christ), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Baha’is, and Jews.

The ECV estimates 17 percent of the population is Protestant, the majority members of evangelical Protestant churches.  The Church of Jesus Christ estimates its numbers at 168,000.  The Muslim community numbers more than 100,000 and consists primarily of persons of Lebanese and Syrian descent living in Nueva Esparta State and the Caracas metropolitan area.  Sunnis are the majority, with a minority Shia community primarily in Margarita Island in Nueva Esparta State.  According to the Baha’i community, its membership is approximately 5,000.  According to CAIV, the Jewish community numbers approximately 9,000, with most members living in Caracas.

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