Dutch is spoken by approximately 23 million people in Western Europe alone and by an additional few million inhabitants of Aruba, Curacao, Saint Maarten, and Suriname. It has official status in The Netherlands, in Belgium, where it is the majority language next to French and German, and in Suriname. Two of Europe’s internationally important cities, The Hague, home of the International Court of Justice, and Brussels, the capital of the European Union, fall within the Dutch language boundaries. Afrikaans, which is widely spoken in South Africa, grew out of seventeenth-century Dutch and is similar to modern Dutch. The Dutch language is also an important source language in countries as Indonesia, the USA, Brazil, and Japan.
Students at Indiana University can learn Dutch to achieve a wide range of goals, such as exploration or cultivation of family heritage, enhancement of qualifications for international business, direct access to a prominent cultural tradition, and skills acquisition for research in academic fields such as European history and art history.