Two of the main ethnic and cultural trunks of the Cuban nationality are the Spanish and the African ones. Other cultures also coincide in th econfluence (the Caribbean, American, Chinese, and from other parts of Europe). This complex process of cross over and mix have brought as consequence a sui generis religious composition.
The Spanish colonizer imposed its culture, language and religion: Catholicism, but the African slaves also contributed to this process.
The original African religions modified in the Cuban conditions, due to the fact that practitioners were uprooted from their natural environments, and exposed to an ethnic interaction.
For instance, with the difficulties of slavery the rituals concerning protection and fortune telling prevailed, leaving behind others as those referring to fertility. In that way several expressions of the Cuban religions of an African origin emerged.
From the Yoruba culture derived the so called Regla de Ocha, known as santeria. It has as cult a group of orishas (deities), with different myths and attributes. The most important ones are: Olofin, Olorun and Oloddumare, the creations gods.
In Cuba it is practiced the Regla Conga, Palo Monte or Palo Mayombe, cults derived of some expressions of the peoples part of the kingdom of Congo. These religious forms focus on the cult to the natural forces.
An important element in these creeds is the nganga (also known as pot). It is a pot where some objects and organic and mineral substances are placed. They are considered as the religions fundament, which is carefully watched by the leaders of the cult. The highest hierarchy is the Tata Nganga.
Other forms of an African origin is the secret male group abakuá, also known as ñañiguismo . It was created at the beginning of the 19th century, with a similar structure of the organizations in Calabar, Nigeria, where the carabalies were originally from.
There are some other religious organizations of less influence as the arará and iyesá.
The expressions of African origin are present in representation systems, symbols, and rituals of a mythological content, linked to nature, ancestors (spirits), and everyday life. They do not have central regulating structures in their doctrine and liturgy, they instead independent groups.
All these religious expressions, specially the santeria, are very extended in the Cuban population, however, it is impossible to identify the number of devotees.