Skip to main content

About Mercator Research Centre


The mission of the Mercator Research Centre is the acquisition and inventory, research and study, dissemination and application of knowledge in the field of language learning at school, at home and through cultural participation. Its work is mostly focused on the regional and minority languages in Europe, but immigrant languages and smaller state languages are also topics of study. 

The Mercator Research Centre is situated in the minority-language province of Fryslân. As a research institute, the centre wants to make use of the excellent opportunities the Frisian situation has to offer as a living laboratory on multilingualism. At the same time, Mercator makes state-of-the-art research and interesting developments from other minority-language regions available to relevant stakeholders in Fryslân. In other words, the Mercator Research Centre brings Fryslân to Europe and Europe to Fryslân. 

Organisation & products

The Mercator Research Centre is hosted by the Fryske Akademy (Frisian Academy), the centre for scientific research on all aspects of Frisian language, history and culture. The Fryske Akademy is part of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW).

Currently, the Mercator Research Centre receives an annual subsidy from the provincial authorities in Fryslân, which funds part of our day-to-day operations. A substantial part of the work, however, is financed through temporary project funding.

For those interested in minority language (education), Mercator has various products on offer: 

  • Our long-running series of Regional Dossiers offers information on the educational status of a large number of minority languages. 
  • Even more information can be found in various reports and publications. Mercator Research Centre is also available for commissioned research.
  • The Database of Experts contains around 600 experts on various topics relating to minority languages, multilingualism and language education.
  • The monthly Mercator Newsletter contains interesting news from the Research Centre and an overview of upcoming events.
  • For specific questions on multilingualism or minority language education, you can contact us directly.

About the images on the home page

Map of Europe from the Atlas sive Cosmographicae

Made by the Fleming Gerardus Mercator (1512 – 1594). Gerardus Mercator was a cartographer, geographer and cosmographer. He developed the Mercator projection, still widely used today.


The Concourse of Birds

Painted by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610, Iran). The illustration depicts a scene from a mystical poem, Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds), written by a twelfth-century Iranian, Farid al-Din 'Attar. The birds, which symbolize individual souls in search of the simurgh (a mystical bird representing ultimate spiritual unity), are assembled in an idyllic landscape to begin their pilgrimage under the leadership of a hoopoe (perched on a rock at center right) (source: Metropolitan Museum of Art).