International Religious Freedom Report
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 318,252 square miles, and its population is approximately 1.8 million. A vast majority of citizens--over 90 percent--identify themselves as Christian. The two largest denominations are the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches, although there also are smaller numbers of Baptists, Methodists, and Mormons. The Himba, an ethnic group that constitutes less than 1 percent of the population, practice a traditional indigenous religion oriented toward their natural environment in the desert northwest. The San people (also known as bushmen), who constitute less than 3 percent of the population, also practice a traditional indigenous religion. Other non-Christian denominations include the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Baha'i faiths. Practitioners of these religions predominantly are immigrants, descendents of immigrants, or converted after recent proselytizing. They reside primarily in urban areas. There are few atheists in the country.

Foreign missionary groups operate in the country, including Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, and Baha'i missionaries.

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels generally protects this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. There is no state religion, nor does the Government subsidize any particular denomination.

The Government does not recognize any religion formally. There are no registration requirements for religious organizations.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally unrestricted practice of religion.

Some foreign missionaries have complained about the difficulty of obtaining work and residency permits; however, religious workers are subject to the same bureaucratic impediments in obtaining work and residency permits that face all foreign citizens.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Societal Attitudes

Relations between the many religious communities are amicable.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. The Embassy has engaged the Government on a number of occasions in regards to revising its policy on granting residence and work permits for foreign nationals, including both religious and lay workers. Embassy staff members have frequent contact with citizens and foreign visitors from a wide variety of religious faiths.

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