POPULATION199,321,413 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$11,900 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSRoman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4% (2000 census)
ALSO IN LATIN AMERICAArgentina
AT THE CENTER
Brazil possesses both a strictly secular government and a richly spiritual society formed by the convergence of Roman Catholicism and the religious traditions practiced by indigenous peoples and African slaves. During the Portuguese colonization of Brazil, this confluence of faiths led to the development of an array of syncretistic practices within the overarching umbrella of Brazilian Roman Catholicism. Following Brazilian independence from Portugal in 1822, Catholicism was designated as Brazil's official religion, and the ruling empire, headed by Prince Pedro, guaranteed religious freedom. The shift to a republic in 1889 led Brazil to adopt a secular constitution in 1891, but the Catholic Church remained politically influential into the late twentieth century. Religious pluralism in Brazil has increased dramatically since the 1970s, largely due to a Protestant community that has grown to include over fifteen percent of the population. The Constitution of Brazil guarantees the freedom of religion and prohibits government support or hindrance of religion at all levels.