Dutch is the most spoken and the official language of the Netherlands. Nearly 23 million people speak Dutch as their first language, with about 5 million people speaking it as their second language. Almost the entire population of the Netherlands speaks Dutch, which is the world’s third most widely spoken Germanic language.

Frisian, English, and Papiamento: Official Regional Languages of the Netherlands

Aside from Dutch, there are other officially recognized regional languages in the Netherlands, which include Frisian, English and Papiamento. Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken by over 450,000 people in the country, most of which live in the Friesland province of the Netherlands. Frisian serves as the co-official language of the Friesland province, along with Dutch. English is the official language of the BES Islands of the Netherlands, with most schools in the region using it as the primary instruction medium. Papiamento is an official regional language in the Bonaire Municipality and is also widely spoken in come Caribbean Islands. The Papiamento language is derived from the Portuguese and African languages.

Preserving Cultural Heritage: Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish

Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish are among the non-officially recognized regional languages in the Netherlands. Dutch Low Saxon includes a variety of Low Saxon dialects that are spoken in certain parts of northeastern Netherlands. It is currently spoken by nearly 1.8 million speakers, but given that the number of speakers is steadily falling, UNESCO has classified it as vulnerable. Limburgish is spoken by about 825,000 speakers in the Limburg province, and it has a large number of dialects with significant variances.

There are also certain immigrant languages which can be heard within the country. These include varieties of Arabic, Turkish and Berber languages spoken by the immigrants to the Netherlands.

Some of the most widely spoken foreign languages in the Netherlands include English, which is an extremely popular foreign language spoken by the majority of the population (90-93%), German, which is spoken by over 70% of the country’s population, as well as French and Spanish, spoken by 29% and 5% of the population, respectively.