23 million people speak Dutch

Worldwide 23 million people speak Dutch in their daily lives. Besides the Netherlands, the Dutch language can be heard in eighteen countries and territories, according to a survey of the Dutch Language Union.

It is not everywhere General Civilized Dutch. The people in the vicinity of Dunkirk in northern France speak French Flemish, a dialect of Dutch. Afrikaans in South Africa is derived from Dutch. In Namibia people speak a version of Dutch, the Namibian African.

Travelers to the Antilles islands of Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten can go and speak Dutch. Everyone learns Dutch in Aruba in elementary school, but a majority speaks Papiamento and teenagers increasingly speak in English with each other. Papiamentu is spoken on Bonaire and Curacao. It is a language that originated from the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French and African languages.

On the Windward Islands Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten residents have three official languages, English, Dutch and Papiamento. On these islands, English is the home language, while at most 5 percent of the population uses Dutch.

In Suriname, almost everyone is able to speak Dutch, especially in the coastal zone. Dutch is the mother language for 60 percent of the Surinamese, an estimated of 90 percent of the population is fluent.

About 300,000 Australians claiming descent from Dutch, but only few have Dutch as mother language. Around 57 percent of the First-generation switch their native language for English. In a Canadian population census in 2006, about 158,000 people said to speak Dutch. These are mainly Dutch and Flemish people in the ’50s and ’60s immigrated to Canada. In New Zealand about 29,000 people have Dutch as mother language.

In the United States there are living approximately five million people of Dutch descent. According to population census of 2000 about 150,000 people speak Dutch at home in the U.S.

Belgium is the most known country where Dutch is spoken besides our country. Dutch with our neighbors differs in details from Dutch in Netherlands. Grammar and vocabulary are broadly similar, but there are differences.

In the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, Dutch is a popular language. Many schools also teach Dutch.

In Indonesia – formally a colony of the Netherlands until the end of 1949 – some older people still speak Dutch. Because many records still contain Dutch source material, approximately 20,000 Indonesian students study Dutch.

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