Dutch diaspora

Dutch diaspora

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

The first big wave of Dutch immigrants to leave the Low Countries came 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 markgrave) 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, thought 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).

United States

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. 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.[5]

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.[6]


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

The majority of Dutch settlement in South America was limited to Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles (i.e. Aruba). Although sizable Dutch-descendant communities exist in urban areas and coastal port towns of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Guyana.[7][8]


The first 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.[9]

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.[10] With his family, 14 April 1896, settling in Rio Gato, near Puerto Montt. In addition, family Wennekool which inaugurated the Dutch colonization of Villarrica.[11]

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 June 5, 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 February 18, 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.[12][13]


Dutch people started arriving in Suriname (previously known as Dutch Guyana) in the 19th century with the boeroes (not to be confused with the South African Boeren), whom were farmers, arriving from the Dutch provinces Gelderland and Groningen.[14] Although most Dutch settlers got out of Dutch Guiana on November 25, 1975, Dutch population in the nation grew suddenly to 210,000. 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,[15] 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.[16]

New Zealand

The 1950s Dutch migrants were the first foreigners many New Zealanders had met. As white Europeans, it was their language and accent rather than their appearance that made them distinctive. The Dutch came to be seen as sensible and hard-working nation builders. Some of the first wave attracted criticism for working too hard, and were told to slow down in the workplace. The "industrious Dutchie" soon became a national archetype, and qualities such as thrift and abruptness were seen as typical of the new arrivals.[17]

The 2006 census recorded 22,101 Dutch-born people. However, the number identifying themselves as Dutch in 2006 was 28,641. As many as 100,000 New Zealanders are estimated to be of Dutch descent.[18]

United Kingdom

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 for a country with a relatively small population. 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 Netherlands 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.


About 20,000 Dutch live in Turkey, mostly pensioners. The Dutch populated areas are mainly in the Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean regions of Turkey.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Diaspora". Merriam Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diaspora. 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. ^ Article on Dutch-Canadians
  6. ^ According to the 1991 census.
  7. ^ (Spanish) La Inmigración holandesa (1880-1930)
  8. ^ Holando-bóers
  9. ^ United States and Brazil: The Defeat of the Dutch / Brasil e Estados Unidos: A Expulsão dos Holandeses do Brasil
  10. ^ Egbert Hageman.
  11. ^ Netherlands in Chile.
  12. ^ Dutch immigration.
  13. ^ (Spanish) Holando-bóers al sur de Chile.
  14. ^ [ America Desde Otra Frontera. La Guayana Holandesa - Surinam : 1680 -1795] Ana Crespo Solana.
  15. ^ Early Dutch Landfall Discoveries of Australia
  16. ^ Flinders Ranges Research, the Dutch in Australia
  17. ^ Te Ara, The Dutch contribution, how others saw them.
  18. ^ Dutch in New Zealand
  19. ^ "One in eleven old age pensioners live abroad," CBS

External links

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