Although Bonaire, Saint Eustatius, and Saba are the special municipalities under the Netherlands, Dutch is not the first language used by the majority of the locals in all the Islands. The language used in Bonaire is Papiamento, a creole language, while in Saba and Sint Eustatius most individuals use English as their first language.

As per the statistics released by Netherlands in 2013, about 67% of the population of Bonaire converses in Papiamento while 15% of the population uses Dutch. 11.8% of the population uses Spanish. In Saba, about 93% of the locals use English as their first language while 64% of the locals converse in Dutch. In Sint Eustatius, 85% of the citizen’s converse in English, 6% of the locals converse in Dutch, and 7% are Spanish speakers.


Papiamento is a Portuguese based creole language which originated in the mid-1400s amongst enslaved people from Africa. This language is a blend of various African languages, as well as Spanish, Dutch, and English. Most of the nouns in Papiamento have no special form to refer to gender, in fact, gender is indicated by adding ‘’muhe’’ which means woman and ‘’machu’’ which means male or ‘’homber’’ which means man.

In Bonaire, around 4.5% of the population on the island has a working knowledge of English. However, in Saint Eustatius and Saba, the majority of people speak English. The minority populations of these two islands speak Spanish. The other minority languages spoken in these special municipalities are Portuguese and Chinese.

This page was last modified on November 22nd, 2017