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 in 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. Franciscan and Jesuit missioners followed them.

However, the rulers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries offered varying periods of toleration and persecution to Christians. That situation stabilized by 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 also began to make their presence in the 20th century, making Thailand a preferred venue for Christians' meetings and conferences in Asia. Christians in Thailand also are noted for their inter-denominational and inter-religious activity.

They are socially respected and accepted as providers of education and health care to the poor. European and American missioners are credited with introducing the printing press and a western medical system to the country. Prominent Christian health care 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 Thais or just 0.7% of the population, according to 2010 government data. Catholics are the biggest group with some 379,617 followers. Christians are concentrated in the northern part of the country in areas like Chiang Mai, where they constitute up to 10% in some areas.

The country has 11 Catholic dioceses, including two archdioceses.
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