About 95% of Colombians are Roman Catholic. Roman Catholicism has been the main religion in Colombia since the arrival of the Spanish. In modern Colombia, the Catholic clergy plays an important role in everyday life. The Catholic Church also has a broad influence on the education system.

Colombian people attend church regularly and the church is an important part of family life. Families always find the money for children to participate in important Catholic ceremonies. For example, Colombian girls wear special white dresses for their First Communion ceremony.

The Jesuits were among the first Europeans to meet the indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon basin. Some indigenous people have adopted the Catholic faith. Many others practise a blend of traditional and Catholic beliefs. Still other indigenous people continue to practise their traditional beliefs. The Blacks who came to Colombia as slaves in the 16th and 17th centuries generally converted to Catholicism.
Did you know?

The Kogi consider the Sierra Nevada Mountains to be sacred because they believe they are the centre of the universe.

After independence, the Catholic beliefs of many Colombian people were enshrined in the country's constitution. Although other religions were officially permitted, they attracted few followers. The San Andrés and Providencia islands are two of the few settled areas which are largely Protestant.

There is also a small Jewish community in Colombia. They arrived in the 17th century in search of safety and peace. They rejected slavery, farmed and prospered in Colombia. They were responsible for founding the city of Medellín in 1616.

Some indigenous groups such as the Kogis live separately from the rest of Colombians and preserve their traditional lifestyle and religion. The mama (Kogi priest) is responsible for upholding cultural traditions, resolving disputes and protecting his people from danger. The mama trains for many years to achieve his status.

Although Catholicism remains the dominant religion, over the past five years many Colombians have joined other rapidly growing churches, such as the Calvinist, Mormon, Anglican, Lutheran, and Jehovah's Witness churches.

Did you know?

The 1991 constitution marked an important religious change in Colombia's history. References such as the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" were replaced by a universal "God." This changed Colombia from a purely Catholic nation to a more inclusive state.