Photo description: Two man are relaxing in the shade of a tree at the beach of Oranjestad

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.

Main languages of the Caribbean Netherlands, 2021 (% of population aged 15 yrs and over)
Eiland Papiamentu Dutch Spanish English Other
Bonaire 62 15 15 6 2
St Eustatius 1 4 13 81 1
Saba 0 4 10 83 3

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.

83% of the population on Saba have English as their main language Buitenvorm Binnenvorm

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.

Languages spoken in the Caribbean Netherlands, 2021 (% of the population aged 15 yrs and over)
Eiland Papiamentu English Dutch Spanish Other
Bonaire 88 77 77 76 11
St Eustatius 19 94 38 32 3
Saba 12 98 33 32 14

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.

Multilingualism, 2021 (% of population aged 15 yrs and over)
Kenmerk Bonaire St Eustatius Saba
Total 91 52 57
Age . . .
15-24 yrs 91 47 50
25-44 yrs 96 59 57
45-64 yrs 92 55 58
65 yrs and over 81 31 62
Education level . . .
Primary 89 39 44
Secondary/Higher 94 69 65
This infographic shows a contour of the island of Saba, showing the number of residents, percentage of main language spoken and the goods imports. USD 22 83 % 1,911 English main language spoken ** residents * * 1 January 2022 ** 2021

More information about the languages spoken in the Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch only)


Spoken languages

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.

Main language

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.


This web publication was developed by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in cooperation with Textcetera The Hague.
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More information (in Dutch only):

Explanation of symbols

Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

Statistics Netherlands (CBS)

In a society where the amount of information is growing explosively, free access to reliable and integral data is crucial. As the national statistical office, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) provides reliable statistical information and data to produce insight into social issues, thus supporting the public debate, policy development and decision-making while contributing to prosperity, well-being and democracy.

CBS was established in 1899 in response to the need for independent and reliable information that advances the understanding of social issues. This is still the main role of CBS. Through time, CBS has grown into an innovative knowledge institution, with continuous adoption of new technologies and developments in order to safeguard the quality of its data and its independent position.

CBS in the Caribbean Netherlands

Statistics Netherlands opened an office on Bonaire in 2010. The Bonaire office is responsible for all statistics referring to the three islands of the Caribbean Netherlands: Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, compiling statistics about prices, population, labour, income, the economy, tourism and trade.

Publications can be found in the dossier Caribbean Netherlands.


StatLine is the database of Statistics Netherlands. Statistics Netherlands offers a wealth of figures about the economy and society in the Netherlands and Caribbean Netherlands, freely available as tables, graphs of maps.

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Statistics Netherlands

Bulevar Gobernador N. Debrot 67, unit 9 | Kralendijk, Bonaire

Telephone number +599 717 8676

Email: caribischnederland@cbs.n

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