What percentage of the population speaks Dutch?
The most commonly spoken language on Bonaire is Papiamentu: over 60 percent of people aged 15 years and over referred to it as their main language in 2021. English is the main language for 81 percent on St Eustatius and for 83 percent on Saba. Dutch is the main language for only a small section of the population.
On Bonaire, Dutch is the main language for 15 percent of the population. This is just 4 percent on St Eustatius and on Saba. On Bonaire, Spanish is equally as common as Dutch. On the other two islands, Spanish is the most commonly spoken language after English.
Inhabitants Caribbean Netherlands often multilingual
Many inhabitants of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba speak more than one language. Multilingualism is highest on Bonaire, where 91 percent of the population speak more than one language, against 52 percent of the population on St Eustatius and 57 percent on Saba.
When asked which languages they speak, almost 90 percent of Bonaire’s population of 15 years and over answer Papiamentu. However, with this question it is not possible to determine their level of proficiency (whether they speak a few words or it is their native language). Three-quarters of Bonaire residents said that they also speak English, Dutch or Spanish. On St Eustatius and Saba, almost everyone speaks English (94 and 98 percent respectively); approximately a third speak Dutch or Spanish.
Multilingualism more common among highly educated
On all three islands, multilingualism is less common among lower educated than among highly educated people. The largest gap is seen on St Eustatius, where 39 percent of the lower educated population are multilingual, against 69 percent of the highly educated part of the population.
On Bonaire and St Eustatius, young people are more likely to speak multiple languages than seniors (people over 65), who are more likely to be monolingual. On Saba, there is no significant difference between the age groups in terms of multilingualism.
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More information about the languages spoken in the Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch only)
The shares for each language show what percentage of the population aged 15 years and over speak the language in question. No conclusions can be drawn about the level of language proficiency.
The shares for each language show what percentage of the population aged 15 years and over use the language in question as their main language. For people speaking more than one language, this is the language they speak most often.