Dutch is spoken by the 15 million inhabitants of the Netherlands, and is also the official language of Surinam in South America, and of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It is also spoken in northern Belgium but there the language is generally referred to as Flemish.
Dutch, like English, is one of the Germanic languages, and thus part of the Indo-European family. It stands about midway between English and German and is the closest to English of any of the major languages.
Long a maritime nation, the Dutch have left their imprint on many languages of the world. Many Dutch nautical terms have been adopted into other languages. Dutch idioms and syntax are still evident in present-day Indonesian. English words of Dutch origin include deck, yacht, easel, freight. furlough, brandy, cookie, cruller, waffle, maelstrom, isinglass, and Santa Claus. Many place names in New York City, such as Brooklyn, Flushing, Harlem, Staten Island, and the Bowery, are reminders of the old Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.