Background and status
The Dutch language is spoken as an official language in the Netherlands and, together with French and German, one of the three official languages of Belgium. Dutch also holds official status in the Caribbean island nations of Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Maarten, and to a lesser extent, in Indonesia. It has 22 million native speakers and more than 5 million people who speak it as a second language.
Belgian Dutch is often referred to as Flemish. However, due to French becoming more popular than the Dutch language in Belgium, Standard Dutch in the 1960s was introduced. Many Dutch dialects are in existence, with ten in the Netherlands alone.
Growth and usage
The official or standard form of Dutch is known as Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands (ABN), 'general civilized Dutch'. It is taught in schools and used by authorities in the Netherlands, Flanders (Belgium), Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles.
The Netherlands have the 11th highest population in Europe and it is also the fifth busiest tourist destination in Europe. As one of the leading European countries for foreign investment, the Netherlands is a highly successful country within the fields of business, import and export. The port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, giving the Netherlands a distinct advantage in regards to trade and commerce.
Thus it is not surprising that Dutch is a very popular language. Originally confined to the western European region, the language itself and its influence has now spread to the Caribbean, South America, and to a lesser extent to South East Asia. Dutch as a foreign language is taught in over 200 Universities in over 35 countries, with around 10,000 students studying Dutch annually. And this number is still growing . . .