Mennonites in Paraguay

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Mennonites in Paraguay
San Ignacio.jpg
Mennonite children in San Juan Bautista.
Total population
29,045 in 2000.,[1] about 40,00 in 2014
Regions with significant populations
Filadelfia, Loma Plata, Neuland Colony
Plautdietsch, Spanish, English

Mennonites in Paraguay are ethnic Mennonites with a central European ancestry or of mixed (southern European/Amerindian) or Amerindian ancestry as the vast majority of Paraguayans. Ethnic Mennonites contribute heavily to the agricultural and dairy output of Paraguay.

Origin and Languages[edit]

Ethnic Mennonites, that is Mennonites of German, Swiss German and Dutch descent in Paraguay are spread across 19 colonies and in the city of Asuncion. The vast majority of ethnic Mennonites in Paraguay can trace their origin to the Mennonite settlement in the Vistula Delta, from where they migrated to the Russian Empire. 25% of the Mennonites of Paraguay came directly from Russia, 51% from Russia via Canada, where they lived for several decades and a further 22% form Russia via Canada via Mexico (some from Mexico via Belize). Another 2% are descendants of Amish-Mennonite immigrants from USA, who came originally from Switzerland and southern Germany.[2] All Russian Mennonites share the same ancestry, language (Plautdietsch) and a lot of other traditions in contrast to the Amish-Mennonites, who speak or spoke Pennsylvania German along with English.


There were 22,710 ethnic Mennonites living in Paraguay in 1987 [3] and 29,045 in 2000.[1] Plautdietsch speakers were estimated 40,000 in 2007 according to Ethnologue.

Major colonies[edit]

There are two major Mennonite concentrations in Paraguay. The first one in the Gran Chaco region (West), and the second one in Eastern Paraguay.[4]

Colony Location Established Origin Population (1987)
Menno West 1927 Canada 6,650
Fernheim West 1930 Russia 3,240
Neuland West 1947 Russia 1,330
Friesland East 1937 Russia 720
Volendam East 1947 Russia 690
Bergthal East 1948 Canada 1,490
Sommerfeld East 1948 Canada 1,860
Reinfeld East 1966 Canada 120
Luzy Esperanza East 1967 USA 110
Agua Azul East 1969 USA 170
Rio Verde East 1969 Mexico 2,490
Tres Palmas East 1970 Mixed 220
Santa Clara East 1972 Mexico 130
Rio Corrientes East 1975 USA 180
Florida East 1976 USA 100
Nueva Durango East 1978 Mexico 2,050
Campo Alta East 1980 Mexico/Belize 120
Manitoba East 1983 Mexico 290
Asuncion East N Mixed 750
Paraguay 22,710

Mennonites of the Central Chaco[edit]

The Central Chaco region probably has the highest concentration of ethnic Mennonites anywhere in Latin America. Ethnic Germans (almost all of them Mennonites) formed 32% of the total population of the Central Chaco as of 2005. Only Paraguayan Indians (52%) were more numerous compared to them. Latin Paraguayans, the majority ethnic group in Paraguay, constituted just 11% and Braziguayans and Argentines another 5%.[5][6]

Mennonites have received some criticism from human rights organizations for their relations with a number of indigenous tribes, including the Ayoreo people in Paraguay.[7]

Conservative Mennonites[edit]

Colonies of Conservative Mennonites can be found in Asuncion, Catupyry, Colony Florida, Departamento Canindeyu, Departamento Itapua, and in Hohenau.

See also[edit]