Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa and Namibia. It was originally the dialect that developed among Calvinist settlers who were predominantly from the Netherlands (though a few were from France, Portugal, Scotland, and various other countries as well), after they moved to the Cape area in southwestern South Africa. Their dialect became known as "Cape Dutch". Later, Afrikaans was sometimes also referred to as "African Dutch". Afrikaans was considered a Dutch dialect until the early 20th century, when it began to be widely recognized as a distinct language.
Afrikaans is linguistically closely related to 16th century Dutch, and to modern Dutch by extension. Other less closely related languages include the Low Saxon spoken in northern Germany and the Netherlands, German, and English.
Although the grammatical structure and much of the vocabulary of Afrikaans reflects its origins in 16th century Dutch, it also contains words loaned from Indonesian languages, Malay, Portuguese, French, Khoi and San dialects, English, isiXhosa and many other languages.
Grammatically, Afrikaans is very analytical, being the most analytical Indo-European language. Unlike most other Indo-European languages, verbs do not conjugate differently depending on the subject: Ek is, "I am"; Jy is, "you are"; Hy is, "he is", Ons is, "we are"; etc. There are no grammatical cases and nouns do not have gender. A particular feature of Afrikaans is its use of the double negative, something that is absent from the other West Germanic languages. Both French and San origins for this have been proposed.
Afrikaans is the first language of approximately 60% of South Africa's whites, and over 90% of the "coloured" (mixed-race) population. Large numbers of black, Indian, and English South Africans also speak it as a second language and it has been influential in the development of South African English.
A few words and phrases in standard English are derived from Afrikaans, such as trek and boorish, which originally was a derisive comparison to the supposed ill manners of the Boers.
In 1976, rioting broke out in Soweto as the result of the apartheid government's requirement that Afrikaans rather than native languages be used as the medium of instruction in black schools. See History of South Africa.
An Afrikaans wikipedia has been started, but is in the very early stages of development: Die Afrikaanse Wikipedia (http://af.wikipedia.com/).