The Amish are a Christian church that traces its roots to the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe. Amish people accept basic Christian beliefs but also have some special interpretations and emphases that have emerged throughout their history.
The Amish migrated from Europe to North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today they live in 509 geographical settlements in 31 states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. (None remain in Europe.) Their population (adults and children) totals approximately 308,000. Their unique practices make the Amish one of North America’s most interesting and colorful religious subcultures.
Although all Amish people share certain common beliefs and practices, they are not one homogeneous group. Some forty different Amish affiliations, or tribes, have different names, different types of dress, colors of buggies, rules about technology, and restrictions on participating in American society. Regulations are approved and interpreted by local congregations. This means that there are hundreds of different ways of being Amish in North America.