The Dutch Language Union

Dutch, a language with 23 million speakers

Like English and German, Dutch is a Germanic language. It is spoken by 23 million people and is one of the 23 official languages of the European Union.

Within Europe, Dutch is an official language in the Netherlands and Belgium (where it is spoken in the region of Flanders). In South America Dutch is an official language in Suriname, as well as on the Caribbean Islands of Aruba, Curaçao and St Martin.

In 1980 the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders) signed the Verdrag inzake de Nederlandse Taalunie (Treaty concerning the Dutch Language Union). The Treaty stipulates that the governments will set joint policy with respect to the Dutch language. In 2004 Suriname joined as an associate member. In addition, the Nederlandse Taalunie also collaborates with Aruba, Curaçao and St Martin. The Taalunie is a unique organisation. Nowhere else in the world does such a treaty exist between countries with the same language.

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