Islam is a minority religion in all countries in the Americas. A report by the Pew Research compared the percentage of Muslims comprising the population of these countries in 2010. The study found that Suriname had the highest proportion of Muslims in the population at 15.2%. The countries in the Americas with the highest proportion of Muslims in their population are as follows:
The South American country of Suriname is located on the northeastern Atlantic coast of the continent. Christianity is the most popular religion in the country. Suriname also has a significant Muslim population that accounts for 15.2% of the population of the nation, the highest percentage of any country located in the Americas. However, Islam is Suriname’s third largest religion after Christianity and Hinduism.
Most of the Muslims living in Suriname today trace the origin of their ancestors to South Asia and Indonesia. The ancestors arrived in the country as indentured laborers to work on the plantations owned by the colonists. Thus, the Islam practiced in the country is heavily influenced by that practiced in South and Southeast Asia. A small population of Afghan Muslims also inhabit the country. There are also speculations that a large section of Suriname’s Christian population are descendants of West African Muslims who were brought as slaves to the Americas and later converted to Christianity. Suriname is one of the member states of the Organisation of Islamic Corporation.
Another South American country, Guyana, hosts a Muslim population that accounted for 6.4% of the total population of the country in 2010. Like Suriname, Islam has the third highest number of adherents in the country after Christianity and Hinduism.
Guyana’s Muslims also have a similar history as that of the Muslims of Suriname. Initially, Muslims belonging to the Mandingo and Fulani ethnic groups of West Africa were brought to the country to work as slaves in the sugar plantations in the country. However, the Islamic practices of these people were greatly suppressed at these plantations. A second wave of Muslim immigrants, about 240,000 people, arrived in the country in the mid-19th century. This time, the Muslims arrived from South Asia as indentured workers or slaves. Their descendants account for the majority of Guyana’s present Muslim population.
Following Guyana’s independence from colonial rule in 1966, the country strengthened its ties with parts of the Muslim world, especially the Middle East. Along with Suriname, it is one of the two countries that are a part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. A 2013 research report mentions that about 48% of Guyana’s Muslims claim to be religiously active. Several Islamic organizations operate in the country and carry out charitable work and/or religious activities.
Trinidad and Tobago
A Caribbean twin-island nation, Trinidad and Tobago has the third largest proportion of Muslims in the population among the countries in the Americas. The country is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation with Protestants accounting for the largest percentage of the population of the country. Muslims account for 5.9% of Trinidad and Tobago’s population. Most of the country’s Muslims live in Trinidad while a small population is also found in Tobago.
Several waves of Muslims arrived in Trinidad and Tobago during the colonial era. Most of these Muslims were brought from Africa to work as slaves in the colonial-era plantations or as soldiers and guards of the colonial armies in the first half of the 19th century. Later, indentured laborers from South Asia were also brought by the colonists to labor in the cacao and sugar cane plantations of the islands. A large section of the African Muslims was converted to Christianity. Most of the Muslims in the country today are descendants of South Asian Muslims. There are several Islamic schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Although the majority of the country’s Muslims are Sunnis, the Ahmadiyya Muslims also have a small presence in the nation.
Other Countries With A Significant Proportion Of Muslims In The Americas
With the exception of Canada where Muslims account for 2.1% of the population of the country, all other countries in the Americas host a Muslim population that represents less than 2% of the national population. However, with a recent surge in immigration to these countries, the religious demographics of these countries are changing rapidly. Thus, the percentage of Muslims is expected to grow in some of these nations in the Americas in the near future.