What Languages Do They Speak In Belgium?
Most people know that Dutch and French are spoken in Belgium, but what surprises many people is the fact that there are actually three official languages in the country — not two.
Firstly, there is the Dutch-speaking Flemish community, mostly found in the northern region of Flanders, which comprise about 60% (6.5 million) of the population. The language this community speaks — while largely identical to the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands — is called “Belgian-Dutch” by academics and “Flemish” by everyone else. Of course, there are differences between Flemish and Standard Dutch, particularly in pronunciation, vocabulary and idioms, but someone who can speak Dutch shouldn’t have too many problems in Flanders.
The second most-spoken language in Belgium is French. The French-speaking community lives in the southern Wallonia region and in the capital Brussels, and this community constitutes approximately 40% (4.5 million) of the Belgian population. Again, despite there being clear differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, if you learned the standard French spoken in France, then you should be able to understand the French-speaking Belgians once you’ve adjusted your ears.
Lastly, there is a tiny German-speaking minority in the eastern regions of the province of Liege (on the border with Germany) who form roughly 1% (75,000) of the population of Belgium. Because these regions were only incorporated into Belgium after World War I, the German spoken here is still very similar to standard German over the border. Unlike Belgian Dutch and Belgian French, Belgian German has had much less time to evolve independently!