Curaçao is a very musical place, and its heart beats on crazy rhythms of conga drums mixed with waltzes. Its music reflects a restless and rich history that made Curaçao plurilingual. There is a unique musicality coming from this unusual blend of Dutch, English and the fascinating cocktail of languages that form Papiamentu, Curaçao’s dominant tongue.
Are you curious about the languages that are spoken on the island of Curaçao? Here is the official list.
Curaçao is part of the Caribbean Netherlands and an autonomous constituent country (land) of the Dutch Kingdom. Dutch language and culture have been introduced to the area at the beginning of the 19th century. After arriving in the Lesser Antilles, the Dutch started interacting with people from various origins, mainly through slave trade. The Dutch influence is still strong, with 8% of the population using it as their first language. It is also the language used in the administrative process and legal departments.
If you visit Curaçao without knowing any other language than English, then you have nothing to worry about. You will be happy to find out that English is one if the official languages on the island, used widely in the hospitality sector. The locals learn it in school, and about 2% of the population are Expats.
Spanish is also a common language in Curaçao. The use of the Spanish language comes from back in the 18th century when it was the main language used during economic interactions with the Spanish colonies of Venezuela and Colombia. A large part of the population in Curaçao can speak fluent Spanish, so you can feel quite at home is Spanish is your first language.
Papiamentu is by far the most important language spoken in Curaçao. It is a blend of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and South American indigenous tongues. Portuguese is predominant, creating the base for Papiamentu language in the 18th century, when slaves from all over the area were forced to interact with their Portuguese owners and traders, adding the dialects to it. There is still some dispute between linguists on whether the base language is indeed Portuguese or Spanish, but without a doubt, its origins are in the Iberian Peninsula.
Besides the four official languages, most people can also communicate in some minority languages. It is highly improbable that you will find yourself in a language block in Curaçao, as most people speak at least two of the language languages mentioned above fluently.