Ethnic Groups ( Namibia )

Ethnic Groups in Namibia.

Baster People
San / Bushmen People
Caprivi People
Caucasian  People
Coloured People
Damara People
Herero People  
Himba (Ovahimba) People  
Kavango People
Nama People
Owambo People 
Tswana People 

Baster People   
It is believed that as early as 1652, the year of Jan van Riebeeck’s landing at the Cape in South Africa, this race came into being. The progenitors were the early Dutch and other European men at the Cape who intermarried and interbred with indigenous Khoisan women. Some intermarrying with early Cape Malays, brought to the Cape by the Dutch from the East Indies, also took place.
The Rehoboth Basters are a branch of this new race. The term “Baster” is the preferred term and used with pride by the Baster Community. They adopted the language and culture of their forefathers which included the observance of Christian beliefs. Early missionaries recognized their strong Christian leanings and were sympathetic towards them, often being of assistance in their efforts to find peace and security. Thus it was that they gathered around mission stations south of the Orange River at Pella, De Tuine and Amandelboom.  
In 1868, drought and discrimination forced the Basters to move north across the Orange River into Namibia where they eventually, in 1870, reached Rehoboth, south of Windhoek. At first they leased the Rehoboth area from a Nama leader, Willem Swartbooi, but after the Herero leader, Maharero, gave the Swartboois alternate land on which to settle, the Rehoboth area was given to the Basters as a grant by Maharero.  
Subsequent interbreeding with German settlers and Schutztruppe introduced numerous German surnames, for example, Benz, Denk, Rittmann, etc. to the mainly Dutch (Afrikaans) surnames such as Beukes, Cloete, de Klerk, Esterhuizen, Maasdorp and van Wyk, etc. During the nineteenth century, many Scotsmen were involved in the Guano mining activities off the coast of Namibia and a number of them came inland to make Namibia their home. Some of them married Basters and hence the Scottish surnames like Alcock, Campbell, McNab. Other surnames of European origin are also encountered.  
Many Basters work in Windhoek, commuting 180kms daily in passenger cars, vans and small buses. Artisans, such as bricklayers, carpenters, etc. have built many a Windhoek building, while numerous sales and administration positions are filled. Some Basters are involved in stock farming: some in cattle and most in sheep and goats.
The Basters are a patriotic people and very protective of their cultural heritage.

Bushmen / San  
The San, a small ethnic group, numbering about 40,000, are more commonly known as Bushmen and comprise of one larger and four smaller groups. The largest group is that of the !Kung, found in Kavango in the northeast and down the eastern side of Namibia to the Gobabis district. They are also found across the border in western Botswana.  

A small group of Heikom (//Kx’au//’en) historically roarmed in the are of the Etosha National Park and the surrounding districts to the east. The Khoe, or Mbarakwengo, are the River Bushmen and are found around the eastern perimeter of the Kavango region, spreading into Botswana and western Caprivi. The Naro’ group are found in the area east of Grootfontein and Gobabis and also in Botswana. A very small, near-extinct group, the /Auni, is found in the lower Nossob district.  
The Bushmen are well proportioned, and have lean and delicate limbs – ideal physical features for endurance running. Most have high cheekbones and are of light complexion. Newborn and young children are especially light in complexion. The Bushmen rely more on the gathering of roots, seeds, nuts and other edible plants than on hunting. They often go without meat for lengthy periods but cannot survive for long without foraging for veld food, as this is also a source of water for them.  
The Bushman is the only ethnic group in Namibia which has no traditional area which they call home. For perhaps thousand of years they have followed the migratory routes of the animals they hunted although these activities curtailed with the agricultural developments that took place.  
The proclamation of game reserves also closed off large areas to them and slowly, increasingly they were obliged to seek employment on farms. Their extraordinary fieldcraft, particularly tracking skills, were welcomed by the farming community. Some took employment as servants for other ethnic groups whilst others became trackers in police and military units.  
Sadly, the numbers of San people are dwindling and unless some way can be found to create a homeland for them, Namibia’s oldest inhabitants will gradually become extinct.

Caprivi People   
The population of the Caprivi, estimated at a little under 100,000 is distributed along the river banks, alongside the major roads of the Caprivi and in and around the main centre Katima Mulilo and the villages of Sibinda, Sangwali, Linyanti, Chinchimane, Bukalo, Ngoma and Isize. There are two main tribal groups, the Fwe in the wet and the Subia in the east. The Fwe include several smaller communities of Yeyi, Totela and Lozi, (Malan, J.S.: Peoples of Namibia)  

The head of each village is the oldest male and will have assumed the position by descent. Groups of villages (wards) are headed up by a senior Headman who is elected. The senior headmen act as local representatives on the tribal council (kuta), which is presided over by the ‘ngamela’ (chief councilor). The ngambela, who is appointed by the tribal head or chief, is the conduit through which communication from the chief to the tribe via the headmen flows in a two-way direction.  
In addition to hunting and fishing, the Caprivians till the soil, planting maize, millet, beans, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, pumpkins, melons and also sugar cane. They are also gatherers and pastoralists, with well structured usage of the communal grazing areas. Their isolation and remoteness have been responsible for their continued dependence on this traditional subsistence economy.  
Although polygamous marriages are on the decrease, it is not unusual to encounter some people still clinging to the old tradition of having more than one wife. If a man is wealthy, it follows that he can maintain more wives, have more children and thus have more hands to perform daily chores. The payment of ‘lobola’ by the groom for a wife to legalize the marriage contract is still practiced and is usually in the form of a number of head of cattle.  
After the marriage and a short stay with the bride’s family, the couple moves to the ward of the husband. They must erect their own living quarters, which, at the start of their married life, consists of one hut for cooking and storing purposes and another as sleeping quarters. Huts are added from time to time as the family increases in size, and may eventually be enclosed within a wide reed fence. The building of huts is a joint venture by men and women. The huts have a basic construction of poles with a lath support on top, which is thatched with grass. Walls are plastered with mud mixed with cow dung, and doors may be of simple construction, sometimes only a few poles tied together or a grass mat hanging from above.  
As a result of their historical social interaction with Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, the majority of Caprivians learned to speak English. Numbers of the men worked for some time, on mines in Johannesburg and hence learned to speak Fanagalo. This is the only region in Namibia where minimal Afrikaans is spoken.
The first European descendant to take up permanent residence in Namibia is believed to have been Guilliam Visagie, who with his wife had settled at a place called Modderfontein, today known as Keetmanshoop.
A number of explorers, ivory and big game hunters, traveled up from the Cape in South Africa  and  the  first  missionaries,  Abraham and Christian Albrecht, arrived at Warmbad in 1806. The London Missionary Society, having too few candidates to send to southern Africa, was provided with missionaries by the Berlin Missionary Society, and thus the first missionaries to South West Africa were Germans. As more and more information about the country reached the outside world, so the numbers of adventurers, prospectors, traders and explorers increased. 
When conflict broke out between the Herero and the Nama, soldiers and administrative personnel were brought into the country. Boers from South Africa, some getting away from the Anglo-Boer war in 1899-1902 came into the country. At the end of the Herero wards many of the German soldiers decided to stay in South West Africa. Diamonds were discovered and more Europeans arrived. After the First World War, farms and various other properties were bought by new settlers and the number of European residents grew steadily.  
The granting to South Africa of a mandate over South West Africa brought in administrative personnel, policemen, railway-men and entrepreneurs who set up businesses. Mining, fishin, farming and light to medium industrial activities mushroomed, bringing in engineers, scientists, teachers, architects, agronomists, surveyors, doctors, nurses and many others, the majority of whom were of European descent.
Coloured People   
It is estimated that there are about 80,000 coloured people residing in Namibia. The majority of those now living here were born in Namibia to coloured parents.
Their origin in South Africa goes back to the days of early settlements at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa when many of the European men intermarried and interbred with Khoisan women and then subsequently workers from the East, brought to the Cape by the Dutch to help develop the remote outpost, as well as replenish ships sailing to and from the East. 
In those days there were virtually no women of European descent and of marriageable age in the Cape or its hinterland, and as a result, men of European descent also interbred with the female offspring of the slave labourers from the East. Children born of slaves automatically became the property of the slave owner and thus it was that many of those born as a result of this miscegenation, were exposed to the Christian religion and the culture of their “owners”.  
Most Coloured people have Afrikaans as their home language. Because their blood was said to be mixed or “coloured” they were accordingly classified as “Coloureds”, a name that remains until today.  
Discrimination denied many of these people the right to participated freely in social and economic activities, as a result, many moved away from the Cape. Being ostracized as they were, the Coloured people developed their own culture. 
Much of the success in the early development of the fruit growing, wine and textile, construction and fishing industries can be attributed to the invaluable contributions made by the Coloured people. Most of them in Namibia can trace their origins back to the Cape. There are, however, many whose ancestors are Namibian/European.

Damara People  
The Damara make up a component of 8.5% of the Namibian nation. The majority live in the northwestern regions of the country but others are found widely across Namibia, where they live and work in towns, on commercial farms, on mines, as well as at the coast.
They have no cultural relationship with any of the other tribes anywhere else in Africa. It is believed that the Damara left their original abode in northwestern Africa long before other tribes started their migrations to western and southern Africa. They no longer possess their traditions of origin, nor former linguistic and cultural affiliations.  
In earlier times in Namibia, the Damara people are believed to have been hunter-gatherers, thereafter dominated by and working for the Nama and the Herero. According to Dr. Vedder’s book, “South West Africa in Early Times,” the Bergdamara were regarded by the Nama and Herero as their rightful servants and would mercilessly pursue them when the Damara stole their cattle. The Damara people would then flee in the less hospitable mountainous area around Otavi and further to the West. This gave rise to them being called the “Bergdamara” .  
The Rheinisch Missionarey Society was aware of the plight of the Damara people and petitioned Zeraua, a chief of the Herero, who gave them the area known as Okombahe. Further land allocation took place during 1964 to 1973 during which time 223 farms were bought from white farmers and an area stretching from Sesfontein to the Spitzkoppe became “Damaraland”. Many of the Damara are stock farmers and a large number are employed at Rössing Uranium Mine near Swakopmund. Early missionaries taught the Damara people to grow crops and vegetables and their successful efforts can be seen wherever water availability permits. The development of tourism since 1990 has drawn many Damaras into related activities such as tour guiding and nature conservation.  
The Damaraland region is well known for its minerals and semi-precious stones and many Damara have turned to small-scale mining, selling their stones along the roads leading into and out of their settlements.

Herero People  
The Herero nation moved south into Namibia, it is thought, during the 16 th century. According to their oral history they came from an area of much water and grass and many reeds, probably west of Lake Tanganyika, and entered Namibia between the Kunene and Okavango Rivers. There is no certainty however, about the timing or the route followed  by  those  who  moved  south from Kaokoland into the south western and central regions of Namibia. That there was contact with the Bechuana, who in earlier times were in areas northeast of Okahandja, is generally accepted as the time of their arrival in the Okahandja district, which is estimated as about 1790.  
During the last ten to fifteen years of the 19th century, the Herero settled down in the areas around Okahandja, Waterberg/Okakarara and eastwards, Omaruru and Otjimbingwe. Conflict between the Herero and the Nama caused major problems for both groups and both sides suffered casualties and cattle thieving. This resulted in the German government sending the Schutztruppe (“Protective Force”) to Namibia to quell the conflicts. Subsequent developments brought the Herero into conflict with the Schutztruppe and after a terrible battle at the Waterberg, the Herero were defeated and many of them fled east into Botswana. All land utilized by the Herero was confiscated by the authorities and in 1920 a number of reserves: Ovitoto, Epukiro, Waterberg-East, Aminuis and Otjituuo were created by the SWA Administration, for exclusive use by the surviving few thousands of Herero.  
The Herero are a very proud people and the observance of their cultural traditions is very important to them. They traditionally practiced ancestral worship but the work of missionaries over the years has considerably reduced these activities in most areas. The ancestral fire, through which they communicated with their ancestors, who in turn communicated with God, called Mukuru, is still kept burning in a number of remote villages.  
Each year in August, the Herero pay respects to their ancestors buried in Okahandja. The men march in their splendid military uniforms, some copied from the South African Scottish Regiments of the First World War, and the women parade in stately gowns, reminiscent of the Victorian era.

Himba (Ovahimba) People  
In 1978 during a visit to one of the Himba villages in Kaokoland by a group of international journalists, one of them remarked, “Look at how uncivilized and backward these people are. It’s shocking!” His remark was translated from English into Herero. One of the Himba present, dressed traditional loin cloth and smeared with animal fat   mixed   with   red  ochre , after  a   short exchange     between    himself     and the interpreter responded in fluent Afrikaans, “Our life is good. We have no fighting, no crime, no hunger, no hatred. We are satisfied. Do you live as well in your land?” .  
The Himba indeed have the appearance of having been forgotten by the rest of the world but this is only as a result of their extreme isolation and conservative way of life.  
Many years ago, when the main body of the Herero nation moved southwards into Namibia with their vast herds of cattle into the water rich central regions, some stayed behind in the mountainous regions of Kaokoland. Long spells of drought forced them to live off the land, collecting wild fruit and digging out roots. This lifestyle was regarded as inferior by the proud southern Herero, and they called the Kaokoland Herero “Tjimba”, derived from “ondjimba-ndjimba” which means aardvark, or someone who digs food up out of the ground. The Tjimba then fell victim to marauding Nama who had settled at Sesfontein. The Nama raided most of the little livestock that remained and most of the Tjimba fled across the border into Angola where they sought refuge with the Ngambwe tribe. The Ngambwe treated them with disdain and called them “ovaHimba” meaning beggars, because they had come to beg residence and food. Hence the name Ovahimba. The Himba in later years, hearing that the war between German forces and the Herero nation had ended under the leadership of a dynamic young Herero, Vita, moved back into Kaokoland. Many of the younger generation have accepted some of the changes and are being educated in the Namibian national system, and will in time, abandon many of their older customs and traditions. However, most of the older generation still cling to their traditions and when their children return from school or visits to town, strongly encourage them to dress or undress, according to traditional style, and to live like a true Himba.  
After a visit to this most fascinating and unique part of Namibia and understanding some of their traditional ways of life, one can indeed understand the question back in 1978, “Do you live as well in your land?”.

Kavango People  
This large nation of riverine people has often been described as one of the friendliest in Africa. The Kavango people comprise five distinct tribal groups, of whom nearly all live along the Kavango River from Katwitwe in the west to Bagani in the east. A small number of the Kavango people live in the major drainage area in the south of the Kavango, while some are temporary residents alongside the main road between Grootfontein and Rundu, where many hand-made goods are offered for sale.  
The Kavango People practice agriculture on the narrow strip of fertile soil along the Kavango River, from which they harvest large numbers of fish. The men do the hard work of clearing and preparing the lands each year. The women do the planting and weeding and the men take over again to harvest and do the threshing. Maize and millet are supplemented with groundnuts, melons, pumpkins and various other vegetables. Cattle and goats are kept for their milk, meat and hides. Of the various methods of fishing, the most commonly practiced is the use of funnel-shaped fishing baskets which are set in the water and towards which fish are “herded” by people wading in the water.  
The Kavango men are eager wood carvers and their works are sold all over Namibia. They carve dolfwood (Petrolcarpus angolensis) which grows in the Kalahari sandveld and produce a variety of ceremonial drums, musical instruments and household items. Ornaments, pot-plant stands, wall decorations, masks, kitchen utensils, tables and chairs, dug-out canoes, etc. are standard items. The women weave baskets and make clay pots and ornaments, which they eagerly sell to visitors. A number of new agricultural projects are being undertaken in the region, with a view to increase employment opportunities. These include the growing of sugar cane, man-made forests and grapes.  
Different families live together in large homesteads protected by either a stockade of poles or a fence made of reeds. However, of late, young married couples are increasingly breaking with tradition, building their huts away from the family groups. Many Kavangos have found employment in towns and on farms, on the mines and in the fishing industry at Lüderitz and Walvis Bay.  
The main tribes from west to east are the Kwangali, Mbunza, Shambio, Gciriku and Mbukushu. The Mbukushu reside on bothe the Kavango and the Caprivi sides of the Okavango River. There are also small numbers of San living in the region, who regard themselves as “Kavango”.

Nama People  
Previously there was differentiation between the local Khoi peoples and those who moved into Namibia from South Africa. Today, however, both are referred to as Nama. There are 15 Nama tribes in Namibia: Rooi nasie, Topnaars, Bondelswarts, Fransmanne, Kopers, Veldskoendraers, GrootDoden, Swartboois, Keetmanshoopers, Bethaniers, Afrikaners, Lamberts, Amraals, Bersebaer and Witboois. 
The Khoi, like the San, are well proportioned and of slender build. Some Topnaar can be found at Sesfontein in Kaokoland, Bondelswarts are in the far south at places like Warmbad, while many are found in the areas around Mariental, Tses, Gibeon, Maltahöhe, Helmeringhausen and east of Lüderitz in the southwestern corner of Namibia. At Vaalgras, Herero prisoners-of-war, when they wer released at the end of the hostilities in the early 1900’s, stayed in the area and mingled with the local Nama. Today they live like the Nama and speak the Nama language.

Owambo People  
After Namibia’s independence in 1990, the area previously known as Owamboland was divided into the regions of Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto. The population, estimated at between 700,000 and 750,000 fluctuates remarkably. This is because of the indiscriminate border drawn up by the Portuguese and Germans during colonial rule, which cut through the Kwanyama  tribal   area,   placing   some in Angola and others in Namibia, which results in regular cross-border movement. The main tribes are the Kwanyama (which means eaters of meat), the Ndonga, the Kwambi, the Ngandjera, the Kwaluudhi, the Mbalanthu, the Nkohonkadhi and the Eunda, who are within the tribal area of the Nkolonkadhi. Each has its own dialect but there are only two written languages, namely, OshiNdonga and OshiKwanyama. Their languages are quite similar to the Herero language.  
The Owambo are agriculturists and cattle breeders. They plant mahango, a type of millet, which is their staple diet and which they very much prefer above maize. Mahangu is used for brewing beer which is commonly enjoyed. Other crops include maize and sorghum, beans, melons and onions. When the floodwaters from Angola fill the low-lying areas (oshonas), fishing becomes and important economic activity and when the waters subside, the cattle graze on the fresh grass. This then leads to the supply of manure for the gardens which are cultivated on the higher ground between the oshonas. Many men seek employment on mines, farms and in factories and commercial enterprises. Exposure to the business environments created by the Europeans triggered an astonishing development of entrepreneurial activity amongst them and trading in goods is feverishly practiced. So keenly did they take up the challenge and so effectively did they manage enterprises (ranging from small mobile outlets, like a basin carried on the head, or bicycles hung with tantalizing wares bought from shops in the towns near their place of work, that they were thought to be the lost tribe of the Israelites. There are very few families today which are not involved in some form of retailing activity. Many very large wholesale and retail enterprises have developed over the years and a number of the businessmen have extended into other areas of Namibia and some have ventured into Angola.  
The social and cultural evolution which has taken place over the past thirty years or so has changed much of the traditional way of life and many of the typical homesteads have made way for more modern suburbs and villages, the old huts being replaced with brick and corrugated iron structures and the agricultural and cattle herding activities moving away to the rural areas. However, many traditional villages exist and demonstrate the orderliness of their social structure. Family groups live in homesteads that are enclosed with wooden pole fences and are designed to facilitate observance of strict social customs and efficient domestic practices.

Tswana People  
The Tswana people are associated with the country of Botswana, whose name means "Land of the Tswana." But most of the people of this language group live in the northeastern part of South Africa. This densely populated area is called Bophutatswana, meaning "The Place of Gathering    of    the    Tswana."    Lehurutse, Mafeking and Mmabatho are major cities on the South African side. Gaberone and Lobatse are major Tswana cities in Botswana. Most of Botswana is desert, including the great Kalahari. A few thousand Tswana also live in the neighboring area of Namibia and Zimbabwe. 
The area now called Botswana was first inhabited by San Bushmen. Legend suggests that the three sons of Masilo, a great Sotho chief of about 1500, were the ancestors of the three main Tswana tribes of modern Botswana: Kwena, Ngwato and Ngwaketse. Another version says Ngwato and Ngwaketse were sons of Kwena. Historically the three became separate lineages in the 18th century. In the early 1800's the Sotho were still moving slowly south and had reached to the area of modern Swaziland and almost to the Orange River on both sides of the Vaal, where the San still lived.  
The lands of the Tswana suffered the shattering experience of invasion from a whole series of refugee groups escaping from the anger of Shaka Zulu at the beginning of the 19th century. Marauding Nguni groups, the Hlubi and Ngwane, created chaos as they were pushed westward across the Vaal River. The Tloka Sotho of MaNthatisi, led by her son Sekonyela, left a path of destruction as they
attacked other Sotho groups, marching from Natal to Lesotho and on to the northwest of Botswana. Various Sotho groups moved around attacking each other in their turn. The Phuting moved north and destroyed the Hurutshe capital, Kaditschwene. 
The Tswana are a southern Bantu people closely related to the Sotho (of Lesotho and South Africa). The Sotho-Tswana are bonded in language and customs. They claim a common ancestor, Mogale. They share an agrarian culture, social structures, political organization, religious and magical beliefs and family life. The name "Tswana" with many variations is the European name for a grouping of Bantu peoples. The word is derived from a Xhosa name originally
used for all interior Bantu speakers. The meaning or origin is not known. The term gradually came to be applied to the subdivisions of the Sotho peoples now called Tswana. The "Tswanas" actually have no common self-designated name, calling themselves by their various tribal names.  
Much of the success in the early development of the fruit growing, wine and textile, construction and fishing industries can be attributed to the invaluable contributions made by the Coloured people. Most of them in Namibia can trace their origins back to the Cape. There are, however, many whose ancestors are Namibian / European.

The Tswana, who are divided into 11 sub-groups, make up about 60% of the population of Botswana.

These 11 groups are
Thlaping (Thapi), Rolong, Kwena, Kgatla, Kgalagadi, Tawana, Hurutshe, Gwaketse, Ngwato, Tlokwa and Malete. In addition, there is the larger Kgalagadi tribe whose language is different enough to be classified as a separate language. They are classified as a separate people in the broader Sotho-Tswana family. All the Sotho and Tswana languages are inherently intelligible, but for political and historical reasons, they have generally been considered as three languages. About three-fourths of the Tswana people live in South Africa. Only about one-fourth live in Botswana, the country named after them. The larger sub-tribes are often considered as separate tribes with their separate languages.

The Sotho-Tswana are part of a Niger-Congo language sub-family called Bantu. Tswana is a technical name used by linguists for a grouping of closely related languages of the various peoples called Tswana today. Being Bantu languages, the speech of each sub-group is called by the name of that subgroup. The Kwena are dominant people among the Southern Sotho. The language called "Tswana" (Setswana) is actually the language of the Kwena lineage cluster. Tswana (Kwena) is the national language spoken by over 80% of the Botswana population and used in schools and the media. The Bible is in the Rolong dialect. All the dialects can use one translation. In addition to dialects by the names of the 11 people sub-groups, there is another dialect called Ngwatu. English is the official language of Botswana. It is estimated that about 40% of the population of Botswana can read and speak English.

Traditional Tswana society included men, women, children and "badimo" (ancestors, living dead, having metaphysical powers). A Tswana does not think in terms of individual rights, but of responsibilities to his family and tribe. The father is to be obeyed and respected by his wife and children at all times. Job availability in Botswana is changing from rural to urban. In the quest for "the better life," the young are leaving the villages and not returning. The Tswana are fast becoming a modern secular society.
The Sotho-Tswana are organized by lineages, which developed as the tribe grew. The lineages are organized in subunits and communities. Every level exhibits the same social organization, such as the Kgotla, the traditional court, with various officials assigned various duties in the social structure at each level.

In traditional Tswana religion (tribal animism) "Modimo" is the great God, or "The Great Spirit." It is interesting that "God" is the singular spirit "Modimo", and the general spirits are the plural "ba-dimo." The badimo (ancestral spirits) are understood as agents of Modimo. This implies traditionally the Tswana acknowledge the singular supreme God. "Ancestor worship" is their philosophy of hierarchical forces, going upwards from men to ancestors, to the ultimate God, believing that if one fails the other will help. The paternalistic teaching and preaching of early Christian missionaries neglected the significance of culture, and retarded growth of the church. Today, the majority of Tswana are indifferent to religion of any kind, or insincere about the one they profess.

By 1820, missionaries from France and Britain were working among several Sotho-Tswana groups including the Tlokwa and Kwena. Missionaries settled in Lesotho in 1833. Moffat impacted the Tswana by translating the Bible, and by establishing the first church in 1829. Livingstone followed in 1841. Failure of Christian teaching can be attributed to the cultural forms in which Christianity was brought to Africa. About 60% of the Tswana profess Christianity, but only about 18% are practicing Christians, of which women outnumber men at least 2:1.