Religious Composition Of Antarctica

Trinity Church in Antarctica.
Trinity Church in Antarctica.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest, and wildest continent with the highest average elevation of all the continents. The continent is home to several manned research stations. The continent has a low population density averaging 180 people per square miles. The population varies from 1,000 during winter to 5,000 during summer. The people residing in Antarctica identify with different religions. Some of the religious buildings in Antarctica are protected as important historical monuments in the area. Christian sanctuaries dominate the religious buildings in the area.

History Of Religion In Antarctica

Research and whaling stations were erected in the large area of Antarctica in the early 1900s. Since then, several scientists frequent the area especially during summer while a few people stay over during winter. The extended stay in the region can be stressful and challenging for researchers. The Jesuit geophysicists have contributed to the growth of religion in the continent through Antarctica mission work. The religion in Antarctica dates back to the discovery of the continent in 18th century. However, Christianity was the first religious practice in the continent. Currently, there are about four religions represent on the continent.

The Prevalence Of Christianity In Antarctica

Christianity is the major religion in the Antarctica with over 70% of the population identifying with the religion. It has at least seven churches used for religious practices. Christianity was first established in Antarctica by Captain Aeneas Mackintosh who erected a cross on Wind Vane Hill in 1916. The first religious service was conducted in Antarctica in 1947 by William Menster with about 2,000 people from different Christian denominations in attendance. The eight churches in Antarctica include the Holy Trinity Church which is a Russian Orthodox Church on King George Island. The church can accommodate up to 30 people and caters to the needs of the personnel in the Russian and Chilean stations. Other chapels include Ice Cave Catholic Chapel, the Cathedral of Sacred Heart, Chapel of the Snow, and St Ivan Rilski Chapel among others. The majority of Christian on the Antarctica are Roman Catholics who are also part of the worldwide Catholic Church headed by the Pope in Rome.

Islam In The Cold Continent

Islam was brought to Antarctica through the Pakistan program at Jinnah Antarctica Station. Muslims in the region account for 2.7% of the population. There are no mosques on the continent or nearby islands making it difficult for the Islamic population on the continent to observe their religious practices. However, several research stations have created a room within the station where Muslims and other religious groups can conduct their prayers and host their religious meetings. Muslims who are not able to access prayer rooms choose to pray on their bedside and join up with Muslims from other station for important events such as Ramadan.

Other Religious Believers And Non-Believers In Antarctica

While the majority of the residents of Antarctica are Christians, about 24% are irreligious or atheists. Most of the people on the continent have not revealed their religion by choice and are therefore grouped as irreligious. Atheists form the majority of the irreligious on the continent (about 60% of the irreligious). The majority of the irreligious respects other religious beliefs and do not mind joining them for their prayers once in a while. Hindus and Buddhist account for less than 1.5% of the Antarctica’s population.

Religious Composition Of Antarctica

RankReligion% Of Total Population Adhering To The Faith
1 Christianity72
2 No religion23.6
3 Islam 2.7
4 Hinduism1.0
5 Buddhism0.4

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