Dutch diaspora

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The Dutch diaspora is the movement, migration, or scattering of the Dutch away from the Netherlands.[1]

Emigration from the Netherlands has been happening for at least the last eight centuries. In several former Dutch colonies and trading settlements, there are ethnic groups of partial Dutch ancestry. Emigrants from the Netherlands since the Second World War went mainly to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and until the 1970s South Africa. There are recognisable Dutch immigrant communities in these countries. Smaller numbers of Dutch immigrants can be found in most developed countries. In the last decade, short-range cross-border migration has developed along the Netherlands borders with Belgium and Germany. The main motive is the lower price of housing, especially single-family houses, in these countries: the buyers commute to work in the Netherlands, and the children may attend school there. Nevertheless, for official purposes they are counted as emigrants from the Netherlands, and as immigrants in Germany and Belgium.

Early emigration[edit]

The first big wave of Dutch immigrants to leave the Low Countries were from present day Northern Belgium as they wanted to escape the heavily urbanised cities in Western Flanders. They arrived in Brandenburg in 1157. Due to this, the area is known as "Fläming" (Fleming) in reference to the Duchy that these immigrants came from. Because of a number of devastating floods in the provinces of Zeeland and Holland in the 12th century, large numbers of farmers migrated to The Wash in England, the delta of the Gironde in France, around Bremen, Hamburg and western North Rhine-Westphalia.[2] Until the late 16th century, many Dutchmen and women (invited by the German margrave) moved to the delta of the Elbe, around Berlin, where they dried swamps, canalized rivers and build numerous dikes. Today, the Berlin dialect still bears some Dutch features.[3]

Overseas emigration of the Dutch started around the 16th century, beginning a Dutch colonial empire. The first Dutch settlers arrived in the New World in 1614 and built a number of settlements around the mouth of the Hudson River, establishing the colony of New Netherland, with its capital at New Amsterdam (the future world metropolis of New York City). Dutch explorers also discovered Australia and New Zealand in 1606, though they did not settle the new lands; and Dutch immigration to these countries did not begin until after World War II. The Dutch were also one of the few Europeans to successfully settle Africa prior to the late 19th century. Dutch colonists established Cape Town in 1652 and their descendants are known today as the Afrikaners.[4] During the Boer Wars the sense of unity between the Dutch and (future) Afrikaners were very strong. For example, the Boer leader Paul Kruger was rescued by a Dutch warship, De Gelderland, sent by the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, which had simply ignored the naval blockade of South Africa by the British (at the time a maritime superpower).


The Dutch East India Company established the Dutch Formosa colony on Taiwan in 1624. During the Siege of Fort Zeelandia in 1662 in which Chinese Ming loyalist forces commanded by Koxinga besieged and defeated the Dutch East India Company and conquered Taiwan, the Chinese took Dutch women and children prisoner. The Dutch missionary Antonius Hambroek, two of his daughters, and his wife were among the Dutch prisoners of war with Koxinga. Koxinga sent Hambroek to Fort Zeelandia demanding he persuade them to surrender or else Hambroek would be killed when he returned. Hambroek returned to the Fort, where two of his other daughters were. He urged the Fort not to surrender, and returned to Koxinga's camp. He was then executed by decapitation, and in addition to this, a rumor was spreading among the Chinese that the Dutch were encouraging the native Taiwan aboriginals to kill Chinese, so Koxinga ordered the mass execution Dutch male prisoners in retaliation, in addition to a few women and children also being killed. The surviving Dutch women and children were then turned into slaves. Koxinga took Hambroek's teenage daughter as a concubine,[5][6][7] and Dutch women were sold to Chinese soldiers to become their wives, the daily journal of the Dutch fort recorded that "the best were preserved for the use of the commanders, and then sold to the common soldiers. Happy was she that fell to the lot of an unmarried man, being thereby freed from vexations by the Chinese women, who are very jealous of their husbands."[8] In 1684 some of these Dutch wives were still captives of the Chinese.[9]

Some Dutch physical looks like auburn and red hair among people in regions of south Taiwan are a consequence of this episode of Dutch women becoming concubines to the Chinese commanders.[10] The Chinese took Dutch women as slave concubines and wives and they were never freed: in 1684 some were reported to be living, in Quemoy a Dutch merchant was contacted with an arrangement to release the prisoners which was proposed by a son of Koxinga's but it came to nothing.[11] The Chinese officers used the Dutch women they received as concubines.[12][13][14] The Dutch women were used for sexual pleasure by Koxinga's commanders.[15] This event of Dutch women being distributed to the Chinese soldiers and commanders was recorded in the daily journal of the fort.[16]

A teenage daughter of the Dutch missionary Anthonius Hambroek became a concubine to Koxinga, she was described by the Dutch commander Caeuw as "a very sweet and pleasing maiden".[17][18]

Dutch language accounts record this incident of Chinese taking Dutch women as concubines and the date of Hambroek's daughter[19][20][21][22]


Much of the business conducted with foreign men in Southeast Asia was done by the local women, who served engaged in both sexual and mercantile intercourse with foreign male traders. A Portuguese and Malay speaking Vietnamese woman who lived in Macao for an extensive period of time was the person who interpreted for the first diplomatic meeting between Cochin-China and a Dutch delegation, she served as an interpreter for three decades in the Cochin-China court with an old woman who had been married to three husbands, one Vietnamese and two Portuguese.[23] Alexander Hamilton said that "The Tonquiners used to be very desirous of having a brood of Europeans in their country, for which reason the greatest nobles thought it no shame or disgrace to marry their daughters to English and Dutch seamen, for the time they were to stay in Tonquin, and often presented their sons-in-law pretty handsomely at their departure, especially if they left their wives with child; but adultery was dangerous to the husband, for they are well versed in the art of poisoning."[24]

United States[edit]

The first Dutchmen to come to the United States of America were explorers led by English captain Henry Hudson (in the service of the Dutch Republic) who arrived in 1609 and mapped what is now known as the Hudson River on the ship De Halve Maen (or the Half Moon in English). Their initial goal was to find an alternative route to Asia, but they found good farmland and plenty of wildlife instead.

The Dutch were one of the earliest Europeans who made their way to the New World. In 1614, the first Dutch settlers arrived and founded a number of villages and a town called New Amsterdam on the East Coast, which would become the future world metropolis of New York. Nowadays, towns with prominent Dutch communities are located in the Midwest, particularly in the Chicago metropolitan area, Wisconsin, West Michigan, Iowa and some other northern states. Sioux Center, Iowa is the city with the largest percentage of Dutch in the U.S.A. (66% of the total population). Also, there are three private high schools with their respective primary school feeders in the Chicago area that mainly serve the Dutch-American community. These communities can be found in DuPage County, southwest Cook County and Northwest Indiana.


Dutch emigration to Canada peaked between 1951 and 1953, when an average of 20,000 people per year made the crossing. This exodus followed the harsh years in Europe as a result of the Second World War. One of the reasons many Dutch chose Canada as their new home was because of the excellent relations between the two countries, which specially blossomed because it was mainly Canadian troops who liberated the Netherlands in 1944-1945.[25]

Today almost 400,000 people of Dutch ancestry are registered as permanently living in Canada. About 130,000 Canadians were born in the Netherlands and there are another 600,000 Canadian citizens with at least one Dutch parent.[26]


Both the Leeward (Alonso de Ojeda, 1499) and Windward (Christopher Columbus, 1493) island groups were discovered and initially settled by the Spanish. In the 17th century, the islands were conquered by the Dutch West India Company and were used as bases for the slave trade. Very few Dutch people settled the Caribbean; most were traders or (former) sailors. Today most Dutch people living in the Dutch Antilles are wealthy, often middle-aged, and are mostly attracted by the tropical climate.

South America[edit]

The majority of Dutch settlement in South America was limited to Suriname. Although sizable Dutch-descendant communities exist in urban areas and coastal port towns of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Guyana.[27][28]


The first and largest wave of Dutch settlers in Brazil was between 1640 and 1656 and a Dutch colony was stablished in Northeast Brazil, over 30.000 people settled in the region. When the Portuguese Empire invaded the colony, most of the Dutch went to innerland areas and changed their surnames to Portuguese ones. Today their descendants live in the states Pernambuco, Ceará, Paraíba, and Rio Grande Norte. The number of descendants is unknown, but genetic studies showed strong presence of Northern European haplogroup in Brazilians of this region. Only Southern Brazil showed to have more nordic dna because the region was populated by German immigrants.

After two centuries, many Dutch immigrants to Brazil went to the state of Espírito Santo between 1858 and 1862. All further immigration ceased and contacts with the homeland withered. The "lost settlement" was only rediscovered after years, in 1873. Except for the Zeelanders in Holanda, Brazil attracted few Dutch until after 1900. From 1906 through 1913 over 3,500 Dutch emigrated there, mainly in 1908-1909.[29]

After the Second World War, the Dutch Organization of Catholic Farmers and Vegetable Growers (KNBTB) coordinated a new flow of Dutch immigrants in search for a new life and new opportunities in Brazil.


The emigration from the Netherlands to Chile was in 1895. A dozen Dutch families settled between 1895 and 1897 in Chiloé Island. In the same period Egbert Hageman arrived in Chile.[30] With his family, 14 April 1896, settling in Rio Gato, near Puerto Montt. In addition, family Wennekool which inaugurated the Dutch colonization of Villarrica.[31]

On 4 May 1903, a group of over 200 Dutch emigrants sailed on the steamship "Oropesa" shipping company "Pacific Steam Navigation Company", from La Rochelle (La Pallice) in France. The majority of migrants were born in the Netherlands: 35% was from North Holland and South Holland, 13% of North Brabant, 9% of Zeeland and equal number of Gelderland.

On 5 June, they arrived by train to their final destination, the city of Pitrufquén, located south of Temuco, near the hamlet of Donguil. Another group of Dutchmen arrived shortly after to Talcahuano, in the "Oravi" and the "Orissa". The Dutch colony in Donguil was christened "New Transvaal Colony". There, more than 500 families settled in order to start a new life. Between 7 February 1907 and 18 February 1909 it is estimated that about 3,000 Boers arrived in Chile.

It is estimated that as many as 50,000 Chileans are of Dutch descent, most of them located in Malleco, Gorbea, Pitrufquén, Faja Maisan and around Temuco.[32][33]


Dutch migrant settlers in search of a better life started arriving in Suriname (previously known as Dutch Guiana) in the 19th century with the boeroes (not to be confused with the South African Boeren), farmers arriving from the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Groningen.[34] Many Dutch settlers left Suriname after independence in 1975. Furthermore, the Surinamese ethnic group Creoles, persons of mixed African-European ancestry, are partially of Dutch descent.


Although the Dutch were the first Europeans to reach Australia,[35] they have never made a great impact as a group of settlers. At the time of Australia's discovery the Dutch were on the winning hand in their war against Spain and as a result there was little religious persecution. They did not find the kind of opportunities for trade they had learned to expect in the Dutch East Indies. In the Dutch Golden Age regions with high unemployment were also rare. Indeed, the Dutch Republic was an immigration country itself throughout the 17th century. As a result, there never was the kind of mass emigration by the Dutch similar to that of the Irish, Germans, Italians or by comparison, Yugoslavians. Only after the Second World War was there significant migration from the Netherlands to Australia. This certainly does not mean that they have not made a contribution to Australia. As individuals many have made an impressive and lasting contribution to their adopted country.[36]

New Zealand[edit]

Dutchman Abel Tasman was the first European to sight New Zealand in December 1642, though he was attacked by Māori before he could land in the area at the northwestern tip of the South Island now known as Golden Bay. As a result, the nation was subsequently named Nieuw-Zeeland by Dutch cartographers after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

The modern migration of the Dutch to New Zealand started in the 1950s. Many of them were hard-working and achieved success, among other activities, in agriculture (particularly growing of tulips) and in hospitality. According to the 2006 census results, over 20,000 inhabitants of New Zealand were Dutch born.[37]

United Kingdom[edit]

Recent UK census, showed the Dutch population numbering approximately 40,000 people (though this may well be an underestimate), actually making them one of the largest Dutch communities in Europe. Like most other minority groups in the UK, they are predominantly clustered in London and the South East, which are home to four out of every 10 Netherlands-born people in Britain. Relatively affluent Surrey on London's commuter belt is home to a number of Dutch clusters, particularly Woking, which saw the greatest single increase between 1991 and 2001. There is also a sizeable expat population in Scotland, in particular, Banchory near Aberdeen - the home of oil firm Royal Dutch Shell.


In the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), the Dutch heavily interacted with the indigenous population, and as European women were almost non-existent, many Dutchmen married native women. This created a new group of people, the Dutch-Eurasians (Dutch: Indische Nederlanders) also known as 'Indos' or 'Indo-Europeans'. After the Indonesian National Revolution many chose or were forced to leave the country and today about half a million Eurasians live in the Netherlands.

Although there are some who decided to take side with Indonesian, such as Poncke Princen, or joining Indonesian army after full sovereignty handover in 1950 such as Rokus Bernardus Visser.

With the booming of Indonesian economy in 1970s and 1980s, some Dutch people decided to move to Indonesia, either as an expatriate who work on temporary basis, or even staying permanently. One of them is Erik Meijer who have distinguished career with Indosat and Garuda Indonesia.[38]


About 20,000 Dutch live in Turkey, mostly pensioners. The Dutch populated areas are mainly in the Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean regions of Turkey.[39]


The Dutch are a small unknown minority living in Japan. The first known Dutch person of Japanese descent is Ludovicus Stornebrink. Mike Havenaar is a well known Japanese professional footballer of Dutch descent.

List of countries by population of Dutch heritage[edit]

Country Population  % of country Criterion
Dutch in North America
Canada Dutch Canadian 1,067,245 3%


United States Dutch American 5,023,846 1.6%


Dutch in South America
Chile Dutch Chilean 50,000 0.3%


Dutch in Europe
United Kingdom Dutch British 40,438 0.06%


France Dutch people in France 1,000,000 1.5%


Germany Dutch people in Germany 350,000 0.4%


Belgium Dutch people in Belgium 120,970 1%


Norway Sweden Denmark Dutch people in Scandinavia 53,000


Dutch in Asia
Sri Lanka Dutch Burghers 40,000 0.3%


Dutch in Oceania
Australia Dutch Australian 335,493 1.5%


New Zealand Dutch New Zealander 100,000 2%


Dutch in Africa
Namibia Baster 50,000 2.5%


Namibia South Africa Coloured 4,539,790


South Africa Afrikaner 2,710,461 5.4%


Total in Diaspora ~15,000,000
Netherlands Dutch people 13,236,618 81%


Total Worldwide ~28,000,000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Diaspora". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2011-02-22. the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland ... people settled far from their ancestral homelands. 
  2. ^ Dutch immigration to Germany. (Dutch)
  3. ^ Onbekende Buren, by Dik Linthout, page 102/103.
  4. ^ Spread of the Dutch world wide.
  5. ^ Moffett, Samuel H. (1998). A History of Christianity in Asia: 1500-1900. Bishop Henry McNeal Turner Studies in North American Black Religion Series. Volume 2 of A History of Christianity in Asia: 1500-1900. Volume 2 (2, illustrated, reprint ed.). Orbis Books. p. 222. ISBN 1570754500. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ Moffett, Samuel H. (2005). A history of Christianity in Asia, Volume 2 (2 ed.). Orbis Books. p. 222. ISBN 1570754500. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ Free China Review, Volume 11. W.Y. Tsao. 1961. p. 54. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ Manthorpe, Jonathan (2008). Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan (illustrated ed.). Macmillan. p. 77. ISBN 0230614248. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ Covell, Ralph R. (1998). Pentecost of the Hills in Taiwan: The Christian Faith Among the Original Inhabitants (illustrated ed.). Hope Publishing House. p. 96. ISBN 0932727905. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ Manthorpe, Jonathan (2008). Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan (illustrated ed.). Macmillan. p. 77. ISBN 0230614248. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ Covell, Ralph R. (1998). Pentecost of the Hills in Taiwan: The Christian Faith Among the Original Inhabitants (illustrated ed.). Hope Publishing House. p. 96. ISBN 0932727905. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ Lach, Donald F.; Van Kley, Edwin J. (1998). Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. Book 4: East Asia. Asia in the Making of Europe Volume III (revised ed.). University of Chicago Press. p. 1823. ISBN 0226467694. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ Manthorpe, Jonathan (2008). Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan (illustrated ed.). Macmillan. p. 72. ISBN 0230614248. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ Manthorpe, Jonathan (2008). Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan (illustrated ed.). Macmillan. p. 77. ISBN 0230614248. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ Heaver, Stuart (26 February 2012). "Idol worship" (PDF). South China Morning Post. p. 25. Archived from the original on Feb 26, 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ Manthorpe, Jonathan (2008). Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan (illustrated ed.). Macmillan. p. 77. ISBN 0230614248. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  17. ^ Wright, Arnold, ed. (1909). Twentieth century impressions of Netherlands India: Its history, people, commerce, industries and resources (illustrated ed.). Lloyd's Greater Britain Pub. Co. p. 67. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ Newman, Bernard (1961). Far Eastern Journey: Across India and Pakistan to Formosa. H. Jenkins. p. 169. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ Muller, Hendrik Pieter Nicolaas (1917). Onze vaderen in China (in Dutch). P.N. van Kampen. p. 337. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  20. ^ Potgieter, Everhardus Johannes; Buijis, Johan Theodoor; van Hall, Jakob Nikolaas; Muller, Pieter Nicolaas; Quack, Hendrik Peter Godfried (1917). De Gids, Volume 81, Part 1 (in Dutch). G. J. A. Beijerinck. p. 337. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  21. ^ de Zeeuw, P. (1924). De Hollanders op Formosa, 1624-1662: een bladzijde uit onze kolonialeen zendingsgeschiedenis (in Dutch). W. Kirchner. p. 50. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ Algemeene konst- en letterbode, Volume 2 (in Dutch). A. Loosjes. 1851. p. 120. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ Reid, Anthony (1990). Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450–1680: The lands below the winds. Volume 1 of Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce, 1450–1680 (illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 165. ISBN 0-300-04750-9. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ Hamilton, Alexander (1997). Smithies, Michael, ed. Alexander Hamilton: A Scottish Sea Captain in Southeast Asia, 1689–1723 (illustrated, reprint ed.). Silkworm Books. p. 205. ISBN 9747100452. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  25. ^ Article on Dutch-Canadians
  26. ^ According to the 1991 census.
  27. ^ (in Spanish) La Inmigración holandesa (1880-1930)
  28. ^ Holando-bóers
  29. ^ United States and Brazil: The Defeat of the Dutch / Brasil e Estados Unidos: A Expulsão dos Holandeses do Brasil
  30. ^ Egbert Hageman.
  31. ^ Netherlands in Chile.
  32. ^ a b Dutch immigration. Archived 18 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ (in Spanish) Holando-bóers al sur de Chile.
  34. ^ America Desde Otra Frontera. La Guayana Holandesa - Surinam : 1680-1795, Ana Crespo Solana.
  35. ^ Early Dutch Landfall Discoveries of Australia
  36. ^ Flinders Ranges Research, the Dutch in Australia
  37. ^ Dutch in New Zealand
  38. ^ http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/09/15/erik-meijer-a-dutch-marketing-maverick-learns-lingo-ri-telecommunications.html
  39. ^ "One in eleven old age pensioners live abroad," CBS
  40. ^ a b Nicholaas, Han; Sprangers, Arno. "210,000 emigrants since World War II, after return migration there were 120,000 Netherlands-born residents in Canada in 2001. DEMOS, 21, 4. Nederlanders over de grens" (PDF). Nidi.knaw.nl. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2007. 
  41. ^ Nicholaas, Han; Sprangers, Arno. "Dutch-born 2001, Figure 3 in DEMOS, 21, 4. Nederlanders over de grens" (PDF). Nidi.knaw.nl. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2007. 
  42. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Archived from the original on 17 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  43. ^ Federal Statistics Office - Foreign population Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  44. ^ Number of people with the Dutch nationality in Belgium as reported by Statistic Netherlands (in Dutch)
  45. ^ "Table 5 Persons with immigrant background by immigration category, country background and sex. 1 January 2009". Ssb.no. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 15 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  46. ^ a b Joshua Project. "Dutch Ethnic People in all Countries". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  47. ^ Dutch Burgher Union
  48. ^ "ABS Ancestry". 2012. 
  49. ^ "New Zealand government website on Dutch-Australians". Teara.govt.nz. 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  50. ^ Nunuhe, Margreth (18 February 2013). "‘Rehoboth community in danger of extinction’". New Era. 
  51. ^ Coloured population.
  52. ^ Afrikaner population.
  53. ^ "The World Factbook – Netherlands". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 

External links[edit]