Statistics on the number of Lithuanians in Latin America vary wildly, putting the number anywhere between 60 000 to 1 000 000. It depends on who is to be considered Lithuanian as there is generally less participation in Lithuanian activities than in the USA or Western Europe. Many people of Lithuanian descent are now assimilated as in many cases they did not form ethnic enclaves and spread across large territories.
There have been Lithuanians in Latin America as early as the start of 19th century participating in the independence movements. Ignatas Domeika (also known in Polish as Ignacy Domeyko and in Spanish as Ignacio Domeyko) has a mountain named after him in Chile.
The real birth of Latin America's Lithuanian community was the interwar period (1920s - 1930s). In 1908 USA curbed immigration and Lithuanians opted for Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay instead. Argentina and Uruguay were as rich as Western Europe at the time and not far behind the USA. Brazil was poorer but had jobs in its extensive plantations.
60% of all 1926-1940 Lithuanian emigrants emigrated to these three countries. They published Lithuanian newspapers and created institutions. In general, they were poorer than Lithuanians in the USA and had less civil rights. Some used South America as a trampoline to the USA.
Latin America of the early 20th century still had vast unpopulated spaces so Lithuanians also participated in the establishment of new towns, e.g. Ijui (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and Esquel (Chubut, Argentina). In the cities, they established Lithuanians were soon outnumbered by other immigrant communities. Lithuanian culture survived better in the region's metropolises (Buenos Aires, Rosario). There is a Lithuanian district in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Villa Zelina) centered around a Lithuanian church. Lithuanian parishes, dance troupes, and clubs exist in multiple Argentine and Uruguayan cities.
The last sizeable Lithuanian migration to Latin America was that of refugees in late 1940s who established the Lithuanian communities in Colombia and Venezuela. Never numbering more than 2000 they were nevertheless influential as most of their members were elite (artists, professionals). Antanas Mockus, a university professor, former mayor of Bogota and presidential candidate is a Lithuanian Colombian.
In the same era, J. Stalin invited interwar Lithuanian emigrants to return (for propaganda purposes), falsely promising riches. Some returned; those who could then left again for South America soon but this option was not possible to everyone.
After 1950s Lithuanian Latin Americans were never replenished by new immigrants. In 1945-1990 emigration was banned by occupational Soviet authorities. After 1990 Latin America was already relatively poor and Lithuanians favored the USA, Western Europe, and Australia as their new foreign homes. Intermarriage in the older communities triggered assimilation but some did marry within the community and there are 4th generation Lithuanians who still speak Lithuanian at home. The final Lithuanian newspaper in Latin America "Argentinos lietuvio balsas" ceased publishing in 2001.
There has been upsurge in interest in Lithuanian roots after Lithuania joined the European Union as the Lithuanian passport now provides a possibility to work in Western Europe.