In the 16th century, brave merchants and navigators who travelled the sea in search of spices and raw material exported the Dutch language all over the world. In Asia, Africa, North and South America, they left a linguistic legacy which continues to show how greatly this nation of explorers in quest of innovation influenced the world.
Modern Dutch has been widely influenced by several other languages such as German, French and English. Greek and Latin also borrowed their fair share of words from the Dutch vocabulary, which is one of the richest in the world, with nearly 350 words. The mother tongue of 22 million Dutch and Flemish people, Dutch is the official language in Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles. In Indonesia, which has a population of 230 million inhabitants, lawyers, historians and intellectuals as a whole, take Dutch classes at the university. Through Dutch and Flemish societies, the Dutch language is present in many countries and is taught in more than 250 universities in the whole world.
Flanders and the Netherlands’ rich past allowed them to build a wide commercial network all around the world. Dutch has, of course, an important role to play in the region located at the frontier between Flanders and the French “Nord Pas de Calais”, on an economic as well as administrative level. Dutch is also essential in the Belgian and Luxembourgian economies and is one of Europe’s cultural languages.