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Church in Thailand

Capital : Bangkok
Population : 69.42 million
Catholics : 37,9617 (0.55%)
Jurisdictions : Two Archdioceses, Nine Dioceses
Parishes : 502
Major Religions : Buddhism 94.5%, Islam 4.2%, Christianity 0.7%, Hinduism 0.3%, Unaffiliated 0.1%
The predominantly Buddhist nation first came into contact with Christianity when Portuguese mercenaries arrived here in the middle of the 16th century.

The first catholic missioners to arrive in this "land of smiles" were Dominican friars Jeronimo da Cruz and Sebastieo da Canto in 1567. But they were killed in 1569. The Franciscan and Jesuit missioners followed them.

However, the rulers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries continued to persecute the Christians. That situation stabilized in the beginning of the 20th century when Christians began to enjoy freedom to practice their religion.

American Baptists and Presbyterians arrived in the first half of the 19th century. Other denominations made their presence felt in the 20th century, making Thailand a preferred destination for Christians' meetings and conferences in Asia. Christians in Thailand are noted for their inter-denominational and inter-religious activities.

They are considered as providers of education and healthcare to the poor. European and American missioners are credited with introducing the printing press and a western medical system to the country. Prominent Christian healthcare facilities include Saint Louis Hospital, Bangkok Mission Hospital, Camillian Hospital and Bangkok Christian Hospital.

Christians of all denominations together number some 486,000 in a population of 69.42 million, according to the 2010 government data. Catholics are the biggest group with some 379,617 followers. Christians are concentrated in the northern part of the country.

The country has 11 Catholic Dioceses, including two Archdioceses.
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