Taipei, July 14 (CNA) The number of people in Taiwan with membership in registered religious venues grew steadily for the fifth year to 1.59 million, according to a national survey by the Ministryof the Interior (MOI) in 2011 and released Saturday.
Taiwan has 27 different religions, the four major ones of which are defined by the MOI as Taoist, Buddhist, Protestant and Catholic, with the majority being Taoists, according to the survey.
The overall annual growth in religious membership was 1.82 percent, while the number of religious buildings increased by 0.74 percent.
The survey only took into account members accepted by temples and churches that had completed registry with the government in 2011.
Temple regulations request that temples renew registry every 10 years, the ministry added.
Statistics show that membership to Taoist organizations in Taiwan accounted for about 51.14 percent (816,900 members), followed by Protestants at 25.15 percent (401,000 members) and Catholics at 10.94 percent (174,900 members).
The number of Protestants in the country grew the most last year, with an annual increase of 2.98 percent compared with 2010, followed by Taoists (1.82 percent) and Buddhists (0.35 percent).
There was a decline of 0.74 percent of Catholics in 2011 compared with the year-earlier figure of 174,900 believers.
However, in terms of the 15,310 religious buildings surveyed, Taoists temples still accounted for the majority of 61.12 percent (9,361 temples), followed by Protestant churches 16.69 percent (2,556 churches), Catholic churches 4.84 percent (737 churches) and Buddhist temples, accounting for 15.37 percent (2,354).
Tainan ranked first for the most temples, with over 1,622, followed by Kaohsiung with 1,470 and Pingtung County with 1,080. The three regions combined accounted for nearly 35 percent of the temples in Taiwan.
In terms of churches, Taipei had the most with 451, followed by Kaohsiung with 310 and Hualien County with 289.
In terms of annual growth in religious buildings, Protestant churches grew the most with a 1.39 percent increase compared with a year earlier, followed by Buddhists with a 0.81 percent increase and Taoists with a 0.55 percent increase.
The nationwide average of people with religious membership was 687.8 believers per 10,000 people, while the number of religious buildings was 6.46 per 10,000 people.
(By Hsieh Chia-chen and C.J. Lin)