Latin America Religion

By | January 8, 2023

Approximately 90% of Latin America’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. In practice, in many places there are mixtures of the original faiths, such as shamanism and Christianity.

Catholic mission took place in step with the Spanish and Portuguese conquest of the continent. The Spanish king formally ruled the Catholic Church in the Spanish-occupied territories, but the church quickly developed an independence, gaining 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 Christianity. Early groups or individuals protested against the abuse; “Are not the Indians then human beings?”, A Dominican monk preached as early as 1511. A Franciscan, Jacobo Daciano (‘from Denmark’, d. 1567), demanded that the Indians should be able to receive the sacraments, ie. considered human beings. He himself handed them the communion (communion), but did not win the hearing for his demand that they also be allowed to become priests. The Spanish Dominican Bartolomé de las Casas had a great influence on the more humane “new laws” of 1542 (see leyes nuevas de indias). The Catholic orders dominated the missionary work, first the Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinian hermits, from the 1560’s also the Jesuits, who in very closed mission colonies, reducciones, in Paraguay, protected the Indians from the colonizers; the Jesuits were expelled from Latin America in 1767.

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


With the importation of slaves from West Africa came African cult forms, which helped to form new forms of mixture in America (see African Americans).

The duality of the church’s role in Latin America is also seen in the second half of the 1900’s, when the church has occasionally been in alliance with autocratic regimes. Most marked, however, is the liberation theology, 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 among Latin American countries can be called directly anti-church in recent times; in the mid-1990’s, however, Castro set out for an approximation, and the pope visited Cuba in 1998. In the 1900-t. Protestant movements, often of a more fundamentalist nature, have spread through missions, especially from the United States.

The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 80 miles northeast of South America’s southern tip of Cape Horn. The archipelago belongs to the United Kingdom and consists of two large and a few hundred small islands totaling 12,173 square kilometers.

The climate is chilly with an average annual temperature of six plus degrees and with strong winds all year round.

About 2 900 people live in the islands (2013). Nearly two-thirds of these live in the capital Stanley on the East Falkland island. The language is English, almost all inhabitants are of British origin and belong to Christian churches. Compulsory education is compulsory and free of charge.

The first known land rise on the islands was made by the British in 1690 and the archipelago was named after Viscount Falkland, the British naval treasurer. The islands were then ruled by the French, Spaniards and Argentines before the British took control in 1833 and made the archipelago a crown colony.

Argentina maintained all along that the islands were actually Argentine and that they were discovered already during the Portuguese expedition 1520, Ferdinand Magellan, although no land rise was made. In 1966 negotiations were initiated at the UN’s initiative. These became unsuccessful and in April 1982 the Argentine military invaded the Falkland Islands. British forces were sent to the archipelago and after a few months of fighting with about a thousand dead – of which three quarters were Argentines – the British had regained dominion. The British government set up a “protection zone” of about 28 miles around the islands, about 4,000 soldiers were stationed there and the inhabitants were granted full British citizenship.

Argentina did not formally acknowledge that the fighting had ended, but the loss of war contributed to the fall of the military regime in 1983. The new civilian government in Argentina did not give up the demand to regain the Falkland Islands and wanted to negotiate this, but Britain refused. 655 Argentinians and 255 British were killed during the Falklands War.

The archipelago’s legislative council adopted a new constitution in 1985, guaranteeing the islanders’ right to self-determination. In the same year, a new military airport was opened and the number of stationary soldiers in the islands was reduced (in 1996 the number was down to about two thousand).

In 1989, Argentina’s then-President Carlos Saúl Menem suggested that his country might temporarily renounce demands for negotiations on Argentine sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. As a result, Argentina and the United Kingdom agreed to formally end all fighting. The following year, full diplomatic relations were restored. In 1996, the Argentine government proposed for the first time shared British-Argentine supremacy over the islands. The proposal was rejected by Britain and the islanders, who want the UN Decolonization Committee to grant islanders the right to self-determination.

The continental shelf around the Falkland Islands is believed to be rich in oil and in 1994 the British and Argentinian authorities managed to agree on how oil exploration and possible extraction should take place.