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Dutch (Nederlands) is a West Germanic language spoken by over 22 million people as a native language, and over 5 million people as a second language. Most native speakers live in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, with smaller groups of speakers in parts of France, Germany and several former Dutch colonies. It is closely related to other West Germanic languages (e.g., English, West Frisian and German) and somewhat more remotely to the North Germanic languages.
Dutch is the parent language of several creole languages, as well as being the origin of the language Afrikaans. The Dutch Language Union coordinates actions of the Dutch, Flemish and Surinamese authorities in linguistic issues, language policy, language teaching and literature.
Dutch dialects are remarkably diverse and distinct. The same applies to the Flanders region in Belgium. A special series on Dutch dialects provides detailed information on this subject. The introduction of Standard Dutch in the 1960s began later in Flanders, due in part to the dominance of the French language in Belgium.