Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Countries that Speak Dutch


Dutch is considered a strange language by many. Some describe it as a crazy combination of German (Deutsch) and English. It is a West Germanic language, though related remotely to some North Germanic languages. About 22 million people speak Dutch as a first language, and over 5 million speak it as a second language. Because of imperialism, it is spoken in some random parts throughout the world, or has influenced post-imperial languages.


Where it all started, Dutch is the official language, and mother tongue of 96% percent of people in the Netherlands. It is the language of the media, school and government. If you go to the cities, most people speak English or German though. There are also a lot of immigrants who speak languages like Turkish, Indonesian or Moraccan Arabic, but know Dutch as well.


Dutch, or Flemish, is one of three official languages of Belgium, along with French and German.  About 59% of people in Belgium speak Dutch. French and Dutch are the offical languages of Brussels, a big metropolitan and financial center of Belgium. You won’t hear it in the Waloon region.


About 20,000 people in the Northwest of France use French Flemish, a version of Dutch, as a daily langauge. They speak it alongside French, which is gradually causing this version of Dutch to die down.


The Dutch had Suriname as  a colony, and had its residents work on their plantations and learn Dutch. About 60% of the population speak it as a mother tongue, and 24% more of the population know it as a second language. It is a member of the Dutch Language Union.

Aruba/Netherlands Antilles

Dutch is not common as a mother tongue here. However, many people do speak Dutch because it is used in the schools at all levels. These countries are both part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Many people speak Papamiento, a Creole language that has Dutch influence. Some people in the Northern Antilles speak English as opposed to Dutch.

South Africa

South Africa exhibits the largest affect of linguistic influence from Dutch imperialism. Many people speak Afrikaans, an Indo-European language that derived from Dutch. It is the majority language of one-third of South Africa’s population, mainly in the western region. It is also spoken in Namibia.


Though the Dutch were present in Indonesia for about 350 years, there is hardly a presence of their language left over. A small percentage of older people in Indonesia can speak Dutch. Some people in the legal profession know Dutch because of some of the law codes were written that way. Malay is the official language. However, the Indonesian language has many borrowed words and phrases from Dutch.


One thought on “Countries that Speak Dutch

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    Decatur, Alabama

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