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The narrowest country in Central America has more than 3 million inhabitants. Table 1 shows the main global religions present in Panama: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, marginal Christianity, other world religions, and new religious movements.

Roman Catholicism

The Roman Catholic Church entered with Spanish colonization, establishing Darién as its first diocese on the mainland of the Americas in 1513. A shortage of priests curtailed the strength of the Church for centuries. Panama won independence from Spain as part of Colombia (1821), whose conservative dictators supported the Roman Catholic Church, whereas the political liberals were anticlerical and annexed Church properties. With President Theodore Roosevelt's initiative, Panama became independent from Colombia in 1903. The Panama Canal was finished in 1914, with the Canal Zone under direct U.S. control until 2000.

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