Religion in South America

Latin America – religion

About 90% of Latin America’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. In practice, there are many places of blending of the original forms of belief, such as shamanism, and Christianity. According to Countryaah, Brazil is the largest country in South America.

Catholic mission was in line with the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the continent. The Spanish king formally governed the Catholic Church in the Spanish-occupied territories, but the church quickly developed its independence, gained its own courts and large tracts of land. Often, there was a conflict over competencies between the crown and the church.

The people of the church appeared as part of the often harsh colonization, in which the Indians were forced to work for a landowner and forced Christian. Early groups or individuals objected to the abuse; “Aren’t the Indians then humans?”, A Dominican monk preached as early as 1511. A Franciscan, Jacobo Daciano (‘from Denmark’, d. 1567), demanded that the Indians should receive the sacraments, ie. considered human. He himself handed them the communion (the sacrament), but did not heed his claim that they might also become priests. The Spanish Dominican Bartolomé de las Casas had a great influence on the more humane “new laws” of 1542. The Catholic orders prevailed in the mission work, first the Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinian emitters, from the 1560s, as well as the Jesuits, who in very closed mission colonies, the reducciones, in Paraguay protected the Indians from the colonizers; The Jesuits were expelled by Latin America in 1767.

South America Median Age

When the colonies became independent states in the early 1800s, the church was temporarily weakened. The owned land, and church leaders could therefore be perceived as colonial landlords who had to be fought during the independence struggle. Especially in Mexico, anti-clericalism was rampant.

The importation of slaves from West Africa followed African cult forms, which helped to form new forms of mixing in America.

The duplicity of the church’s role in Latin America is also seen in the second half of the 1900s, where the church has occasionally been in alliance with monastic regimes. Most significant, however, is the theology of liberation, whose practical work for the poor and oppressed has at times been supported by the pope, in others criticized. Only Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba can be called direct church hostility among Latin American countries in recent times; In the mid-1990s, however, Castro made an approximation, and the pope visited Cuba in 1998. In 1900-t. Protestant movements, often of a more fundamentalist nature, have spread through missions from the United States in particular.

Countries Capital Languages People
Argentina Buenos Aires Spanish *, English, Italian, German, French Argentinian, Argentine
Bolivia Sucre,
La Paz (administrative)
Spanish *, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani Bolivian
Brazil Brasília Portuguese Brazilian
Chile Santiago Spanish Chilean
Colombia Santafé de Bogotá Spanish Colombian
Ecuador Quito Spanish *, Quechua Ecuadorian
Guyana Georgetown English Guyanese
Paraguay Asunción Spanish *, Guaraní Paraguayan
Peru Lima Spanish *, Quéchua *, Aymara Peruvian
Suriname Paramaribo Dutch *, Surinamese, English Surinamese
Uruguay Montevideo Spanish Uruguayan
Venezuela Caracas Spanish Venezulean


South America Countries


Traces of settlement indicate that South America has been populated for at least 50,000 years.

More than 2000 years ago, the development of various advanced cultures began in the west of the continent, such as the Parasca culture in Peru (from around 800 BC) or the Moche culture in Bolivia (around 200 AD).
The Inca Empire was of outstanding importance from 1200. It covered almost the entire Andean region in 1500 and extended into the tropical lowlands in the east. It was the largest empire in ancient America.

After the discovery of the “New World” by Columbus in 1492, the colonization of South America began (Fig. 11). Spaniards and Portuguese in particular destroyed the high cultures within a few decades. The languages and cultures of the colonial powers displaced or overlaid the old American traditions.
Due to the conquests and their consequences (e.g. introduced diseases) the Indian population was severely decimated. That is why black slaves were abducted from Africa.

South America was soon completely divided among the colonial powers:

  • In 1534 a Viceroy was appointed for New Spain, which included large parts of North America, Central America and Venezuela. Its capital was Mexico City.
  • The Viceroyalty of Peru was founded in 1543 (capital Lima), which encompassed the entire Spanish domain.
  • In 1549, the Portuguese began to set up an administration in Brazil.

In the 18th century, two Spanish viceroys were added: New Granada, which included the current states of Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela, and Rio de la Plata, which included the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The collapse of the colonial system began in the wake of the French Revolution. Uprisings, wars of liberation, but also negotiations created most of today’s states until the mid-19th century.

In 1948 the OAS (Organization of American States) was founded.
It helps to improve the relationship between the member states and the United States. Since the end of the 19th century, this relationship has been heavily impacted by interventions by the United States to gain or maintain its influence in South America.

The dictatorships, which often ruled in many countries with the support of the United States, have been overthrown or forced to make democratic concessions since the 1970s. However, corruption, disregard for human rights, guerrilla warfare, drug trafficking and the associated economic and social problems have often prevented and still prevent genuine democratization.