The country has an area of 16,485 square miles and a population of 16.4 million. According to a 2006 report by the Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), approximately 51.6 percent of the population has some religious affiliation, although many do not actively practice their religious beliefs. Approximately 43.4 percent consider themselves Christian (Roman Catholic and Protestant, including the Dutch Reformed Church, Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Remonstrants); 5.7 percent Muslim; and 2.3 percent other (Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist).
Society has become increasingly secularized. In general, church membership continued to decline. According to a 2006 study by the government's Social Cultural Planning Bureau, the number of persons who are church members declined steadily from 76 percent of the population in 1958 to 30 percent in 2006 (16 percent Catholic and 14 percent Protestant). Only 16 percent regularly attend church. Catholics constitute the largest religious group in the country.
The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) estimated in 2007 there are 850,000 Muslims, constituting 5.2 percent of the population, primarily in the larger cities. Approximately 373,000 are of Turkish background and 335,000 are of Moroccan background, according to 2008 CBS figures. Other Muslims are from the country's former colony of Suriname, and there are large numbers of asylum seekers from Muslim-dominant countries such as Iran, Iraq, Somalia, and Bosnia. Research released in May 2008 by the University of Groningen yielded an estimate of 200,000 practicing Muslims in the country; the estimate was based on, among other things, an analysis of attendance at mosques.
According to the Jewish Social Work organization, the country counts approximately 45,000 Jews, but the Stephen Roth Institute and the Council of Europe estimate the number at closer to 30,000. Less than one-quarter of Jews belong to active Jewish organizations.
According to the WRR, there are between 100,000 and 215,000 Hindus, of whom 85 percent originally came from Suriname and approximately 10 percent from India. The Hindu population also includes individuals from Uganda, as well as members of similar movements based on Hindu teachings such as Ramakrishna, Hare Krishna, Sai Baba, and Osho.
The Buddhist community has approximately 17,000 members.