Modern Dutch is a West Germanic language (and, as such, a sister language of Modern Standard German). In Europe, Dutch is the national language of the Netherlands and one of the national languages (along with French and German) of Belgium. In the Caribbean, Dutch is the official language of Aruba, Suriname, and the Netherlands Antilles. Having roughly 23 million native speakers, Dutch counts as a “middle-sized” language. Because modern-day Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, the Dutch language is also the key to much scholarship concerning that country, including its history, cultural and religious history, and legal system. Dutch has an extremely rich literature, going back nine centuries to the Middle Ages. Well-known Dutch authors and poets from the Netherlands include – just to name a few – Hella Haasse, Willem Frederik Hermans, Judith Herzberg, Lucebert, Harry Mulisch, Martinus Nijhoff, Cees Nooteboom and Gerard Reve. Well-known Belgian authors and poets from northern (Flemish) Belgium include Louis Paul Boon, Hugo Claus, Willem Elsschot, Monika van Paemel, Hugo Pernath, Paul Snoek, and Paul de Wispelaere.