How many languages are spoken in Belgium

Though you won’t find any “Belgium” speakers, Belgium is home to a diverse bunch of national languages. We explain what they are, where they’re spoken and, most importantly, when to speak them.

 llustration by Victoria Fernandez. 

Belgium straddles the border between Germanic and Romance-speaking Europe, and this position is reflected in the country’s political, cultural and linguistic makeup. With three major languages spoken under the same roof, what can go wrong? Apparently, a lot. Unlike other countries in Europe that have successfully forged a united national identity out of multiple linguistic communities (looking at you, Switzerland), Belgium’s linguistic diversity has become a political hot potato in recent years, with divisions over language often pitting different linguistic communities against each other. So, what are the languages spoken in Belgium then?

What Languages Do They Speak In Belgium?

Most people expect to hear Dutch or French in Belgium, but what surprises many is that the country has not two, but three official languages.

Flemish (Dutch)

First off, there’s the Dutch-speaking Flemish community mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They 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. Still, someone who speaks Dutch shouldn’t have too many problems in Flanders.


Second on the list of most-spoken languages in Belgium is French. The French-speaking community lives in the southern Wallonia region and in the capital, Brussels. They make up approximately 40% (4.5 million) of the population. Again, despite clear differences in pronunciation and vocabulary, if you learned standard French  in France, then you should be able to understand the French-speaking Belgians — you just have to adjust your ears a bit.


Last but not least is the tiny German-speaking minority found in the eastern regions of the province of Liege (on the border with Germany). This forms 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 the standard German spoken over the border. Unlike the other languages spoken in Belgium, Belgian German has had much less time to evolve independently!

Luxembourgish And More

To complicate things even further, a fourth language — Luxembourgish — can also be heard in the arrondissement of Arelerland, in the Belgian province called Luxembourg (which, unsurprisingly, borders the country of Luxembourg). This language isn’t recognized at the national level, but it’s nevertheless recognized as a minority language by the French Community of Belgium.

Are you managing to keep up? Good, because there are even more Germanic and Romance dialects found across Belgium as well! Such as the Flemish dialects of Limburgish, Brabantian and East and West Flemish. There’s the German-inspired Low Dietsch in the German-speaking region of Belgium, and then, not to be overlooked, the French dialects of Walloon, Picard, Champenois  and Lorrain found in the French-speaking part.

We warned you — things are a little bit complicated in Belgium.

Which Languages Are Spoken In Brussels?

Brussels is officially bilingual, with all street signs, transportation information and even commercial advertising presented in both French and Flemish. But the reality of this supposedly bilingual utopia is very different than what meets the eye. Despite Brussels’s Flemish past (the city was predominantly Flemish-speaking until the late 19th century), you will rarely hear Flemish on the streets of the capital today, and attempting to converse with shopkeepers or bus drivers in Flemish will not get you far.

Brussels shifted to French because people regarded it as the most prestigious language spoken in Belgium. For many Belgians at the time, speaking French was a prerequisite for access to higher


  1. such a nice post.i like it very much......

  2. I really like your post Goog job man

  3. Amazing post! I will celebrate Valentine's Day in Belgium with my lovely wife since she loves visiting & exploring new places. Your informative blog has helped me to know about the languages that are spoken in Belgium. This will help us easily communicate with the locals in Belgium.

  4. One of the finest blog I could find for my trip that I am planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Belgium. I should have the knowledge of languages spoken there so that I don’t face any problem in Belgium. I am also focusing on finding the best things to do in Belgium and the best hotels for my stay, it will be a 15 days trip that I am planning and every day I will be visiting one or the other exciting place there.

  5. Very nice post.
    It's very admirable effort to make anybody aware about Belgium's languages and a lot of details about it.

  6. WISDOM SAYS Wisdom says that you do not discuss politics or religion in public places. Wisdom says those conversations should only take place behind closed doors. Why does wisdom speak this way? India's reactions