Each year the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies publishes Amish population estimates on their Amish Studies web site.

amish population sizeAs of today those are not yet available. However this AP report previews some of the details of the population survey, with input from senior scholar Steven Nolt.

Here are 3 takeaways from the article:

1. South America – First–and somewhat surprisingly–there are now two Amish settlements in South America, in Bolivia and Argentina.

How did this come about? From the report:

The two small South American settlements were both founded last fall after longstanding Mennonite communities in those countries reached out to North American Amish to explore affiliation, said Steven Nolt, a senior scholar at the center who helped coordinate the population survey.

Those Old Colony Mennonites, culturally conservative and with roots in a group that emigrated from the old Russian empire to Canada in the 1800s, left Canada in the 1920s over a dispute about teaching their children in English and landed in Mexico and other parts of Latin America, Nolt said.

In recent years, their members in Bolivia and Argentina have faced financial problems and isolation, so they wrote to an Amish publisher in Canada and eventually got in touch with a New Order Amish group in Ohio that permits its members, under certain circumstances, to make airplane trips.

After ministers with the Ohio Amish visited South America, they sent two families to settle there to create communities the existing Mennonites can join. North American Amish generally do not proselytize or do mission work. They also have sent teams to help with building projects. The Bolivian community, known as Colonia Naranjita, is about 75 miles southwest of Santa Cruz, while the settlement in rural northwestern Argentina is located east of Catamarca.

Nolt describes this as quite an unusual occurrence.

Amish have previously settled in Latin America on a handful of occasions, though none of those communities survived.

2. Canada – Canada is now up to three provinces with an Amish presence. As we’ve covered here on the site, Prince Edward Island has attracted a small group of Amish, who have set up two separate settlements on PEI.

Canada’s smallest province joins recent addition New Brunswick, and Ontario, home to Amish for nearly 200 years.

3. Rapid Growth Continues – The estimated total Amish population is now 308,000. In 1992, the population was just 124,000. The Amish as a whole have a growth rate of about 18% over the past five years.

Amish currently live in 31 states, and three Canadian provinces. And with the addition of Bolivia and Argentina, horse-and-buggy Amish communities can be found in a total of four countries.