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Rome Reports

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Catholicism in Bolivia, by the numbers

When Pope Francis flies to Bolivia for the second leg of his papal trip, he'll be visiting a country influenced by Catholicism for nearly 500 years.

The Catholic Church has had a presence in the country since the 1530s. Catholicism has been a central part of the country's identity ever since. In fact, it was the nation's official religion until 2009.

The country's president Evo Morales has been in power for nearly a decade and does not identify as a Catholic. He has had a turbulent relationship with the Church, though it has improved since Pope Francis' election.

The country of more than 10 million people has four archdioceses and six dioceses. Some date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. ;

Bolivia remains a deeply Christian nation. Today, about 77 percent of Bolivians self-identify as Catholics. ;Another 17 percent belong to other Christian denominations. The remainder of the population is atheist, agnostic, or of another faith.

While Catholicism is still the dominant religion in Bolivia, it has declined in recent decades. Observers will be looking closely to see if Pope Francis' first trip to Spanish-speaking Latin America helps strengthen the Church.

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Up: RMR