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Now less than 13 percent of the population follows the traditional religions while conversion rates to Islam and Christianity have skyrocketed. Only Liberia reported more than 10 percent of the population as still embracing traditional religions.

“It’s clear, from what other studies have shown, that Islam has spread from the north on down and Christianity has spread from the south and the coasts inward through a combination of missionary activity and independent African activity,” associate researcher Alan Cooperman said. “African-initiated churches are quite active and have been independent of missionary activity for a long time.”

But both faiths are highly syncretistic. More than half the people surveyed in Mali, Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa believed that sacrifices to spirits will protect them from harm. One-quarter of the Muslims and Christians surveyed in several countries said they believed in the power of charms or amulets to protect them.

Large majorities of both religions said they would like governments based on biblical or Islamic sharia law in contrast to the governments they currently live under. Christians in Zambia (77 percent) ranked the highest in favoring biblical law. Muslims in Djibouti (82 percent) ranked highest in desiring sharia law.

Although Christian mission work to Sub-Saharan Africa has been ongoing since Franciscan and Dominican monks’ arrival in the 15th century, bolstered by Protestants in the mid-18th century, the chief form of Christianity is Pentecostal, researchers said.

In Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Liberia, one-quarter of all Christians belong to Pentecostal denominations that emphasize the supernatural “gifts of the Holy Spirit” such as healing, prophecy and praying in tongues. Even members of other Christian denominations, the report added, embrace Pentecostal practices.

More than half of the Christians surveyed believe Jesus Christ will return to rule the Earth in their lifetimes. Majorities also believe in the “prosperity gospel;” that God will give health and wealth to people if they have enough faith.

Similar attitudes were common among Africa’s Muslims: About one-third said they expect the restoration of the caliphate - worldwide Islamic rule - in their lifetimes.

More than half of the Muslims surveyed said society as a whole - not individual women - should decide on whether to wear the veil.

Although Muslims often get blamed for allowing female “circumcision,” which is the mutilating of female genitals, the practice is more common among Christians than Muslims in Uganda and Nigeria. However, the highest rates of female circumcision are in the majority Muslim countries of Mali and Djibouti.

Muslim expansion historically came through Islamic traders but in more recent decades, Islamic governments, particularly Saudi Arabia, have spent billions of dollars building mosques and Islamic centers in Africa. Examples include the King Faisal Center in NDjamena, Chad; the Islamic Center in Abuja, Nigeria; the Islamic African Center in Khartoum, Sudan; the Islamic Solidarity Mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia; four mosques in Gabon and two in Burkina Faso; the Zanzibar Mosque in Tanzania; and the Grand Mosque in Senegal.

With most of the populations adhering to one or the other religion, chances are, surveyors said, that neither religion will keep up its current growth rates as the pool of potential converts has shrunk.

Neither religion seems to be converting members of the opposing religion in great numbers, they added, with the exception of Uganda where 32 percent of the respondents who were raised Muslim now say they are Christian.