The Amish are branching out, setting up settlements in Bolivia, Argentina and Canada as their numbers continue to grow.

A new study by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Pennsylvania's Elizabethtown College reports the Christian religious sect's total current population is about 308,000 and has grown about 18 percent over the past five years.

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.

Nearly two-thirds of all Amish live in three states — Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. There are currently settlements in 31 states and three Canadian provinces.

Two new settlements with about 30 people were established this year in Prince Edward Island, Canada, a first for that province.