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Cuba: Religion
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Religion


Cuba is usually characterized as a country in which religion is not a powerful social force. Such views are based on estimates of membership in formal religious institutions and on assessments of the impact of institutionalized religion in Cuban history, both before and after the 1959 Revolution. Although nearly 90 percent of the population was nominally Roman Catholic in prerevolutionary Cuba, the number of practicing Roman Catholics was probably less than 10 percent. Other estimates suggest that about half of all Cubans were agnostic, that slightly more than 40 percent were Christian, and that less than 2 percent practiced Afro-Cuban religions. Membership in other religions, including Judaism, was limited. Religiosity estimates may be considerably higher, however, if due credit is given to the cultural relevance of informal religions, particularly of syncretic Afro-Cuban rites (including espiritismo and santeria), which historically were minimized. Another issue to consider is the resurgence of the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations in the 1990s, a development perhaps explained by the government's more tolerant attitude and the despair gripping many Cubans. Open expression of religious faith, further, offers one of the few relatively safe channels of expressing dissatisfaction with the government's policies.

Last Updated: April 2001

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Cuba was first published in 2001. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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