One’s culture is an amalgamation of so many different elements like history, art, cuisine, language and many other tangible and non-tangible aspects. Studying a single culture in-depth requires immense effort and time to fathom the core values and fundamentals.
The different cultures of the world are the essence of various human civilizations, which we have come to acknowledge on a global level and revere as part of each nation’s core beliefs and traditions.
Different Cultures of the World in a Nutshell
The continent of Africa is a vast one and it contains as many as 53 countries. Although essentially similar, these countries in Africa have some subtle differences in their culture.
► African Tribes: There are a number of African tribes in the African continent. The Afar tribes are found in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. The Anlo-Ewe tribes were once inhabitants of Notsie, from where they migrated in 1474 and are currently found in the Southeastern areas of Republic of Ghana. The Amhara tribes are found in Ethiopia, Ashanti tribes in central Ghana, Bakongo tribes along the Atlantic coast and the Bambara tribes are located in Mali. The Bemba tribes are located in Zambia, the Berber tribes in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The Bobo tribes are found in Western Burkina Faso and Mali. The Bushmen tribes are located in the Kalahari Desert. The Chewa tribes are located in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The Dogon tribes live in Southeastern Mali and Burkina Faso. Some other tribes found in Africa are the Fang tribe, Fon, Fulani, Ibos, Kikuyu, Maasai, Mandinka, Pygmies, Samburu, Senufo, Tuareg, Wolof, Yoruba and Zulu.
► African Religions: There are two major religions in Africa and hence most of the Africans adhere to either Christianity or Islam. Many adherents of both Islam and Christianity also follow African traditional religions.
► African Arts: African art has certain themes that are repeated throughout all the art forms, be it painting, pottery or any other handicrafts, and even fabric. Some of the subjects that are commonly portrayed are couples, the depiction of woman and a child, a male with a wild animal or the portrayal of an outsider. According to African culture, the depiction of the couples represents ancestors or even community founders. Often there is also depiction of twins. However the representation of the couple is rarely the kind to show sexual intimacy or love, more often it depicts strength and honor. The portrayal of the woman and her child represents mother earth and the child represents the people living on the earth. The portrayal of the male with the weapon or with a horse is usually representing the power or status conferred upon man. Finally, the portrayal of the stranger represents a foreigner or an outsider. In ancient African culture, the stranger was not welcome and there always existed a gap between the stranger and the African people in the pictures. In the African culture, the songs are used as a mode of communication. Melodies in African music are organized within a scale of four, five, six or seven tones. Common musical instruments used in African music are drums, slit gongs, double-bells, rattles, harps, musical hows, xylophone, flutes and trumpets. Drums are particularly popular which explains the use of several different types of drums like – tama (talking drums), bougarabou, djembe, water drums and the ngoma drums.
► African Languages: There are close to 2000 languages spoken throughout Africa. All these languages can be broadly categorized into four major categories, which are Afro-Asiatic languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Niger-Congo languages and the Khoisan languages. Some of the Nilo-Saharan languages are Kanuri, Songhay, Nubian, and the Nilotic family languages, which include Luo, Dinka, and Maasai. The Niger-Congo languages include the Bantu and Niger-Kordofanian language families. The Khoisan language family includes around thirty languages categorized into five Khoisan families. In addition to the aforementioned languages, there are also certain non-African languages as well as a large number of sign languages.
► African Clothing: Vibrant colors have always been a prominent feature of the African clothing. A near eastern influence is evident in countries like Egypt where the Jellabiya is worn. The Dashiki is a very colorful men’s garment that covers the upper half of the body, while the traditional female attire is called a Kaftan, which is a loose-fitting pullover garment, usually with an embroidered V-shaped collar. The Boubou, Tuareg, and Mitumba are some other common traditional costumes found in the African countries.
► African Cuisine: The African cuisine is a beautiful concoction of tropical fruits and vegetables as well as the exotic seafood varieties. There are various regional differences in the African cuisine. For instance, the Central African cuisine is influenced by the plants grown in the region which chiefly include plantains, cassava, spinach stew, peppers, chilies, onions, okra, ginger and peanut butter. Meat preparations containing crocodile, monkey, warthog and antelopes are also found at times. The East African cuisine rarely features meat forms and includes corn, rice, saffron, cloves, cinnamon, tomatoes, pineapple, orange, lemon and bananas. The North African cuisine owing to the Turkish influence has inclusion of several popular pastries and other bakery items. The Southern Africa, owing to its Malay influence includes spicy chutneys and curries and marinated kebabs and sweets savories in its cuisine. On the other hand typical West African meal includes a large number of starchy items and a relatively less number of meat products.
► African Festivals: In addition to the traditional Muslim festivals like Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha and other universal festivals like New Year celebration and Christmas, there are several other festivals in Africa. Many of the African festivals are oriented around the farming and harvesting cycles. Some of these popular festivals include Kwanzaa, Yam Festival, Adae Kese festival, Festival of Opet, Homowo, Sed festival and the Osirian festival.
The land of apple pie and baseball – the United States of America. Of course we all know there is more to America than apple pie and baseball. Here is more about the culture of the USA.
► American People: The American society is a blend of native Americans as well as a large number of immigrants from various countries like Ireland, Germany, Poland, Italy, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Having gone through a phase of racial discrimination, the United States of America today recognizes four races in the country – Native American, African-American, Asian and European American.
► Religions in America: The majority of United States includes Protestant Christians. The percentage of Catholics is slightly less than the Protestants. In addition to this, USA being a secular state, a number of people have also adopted other religions like Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism.
► American Arts: In the early years, American art and literature took most of its ideas and influences from European artists. During the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth centuries, American paintings primarily included landscapes and portraits in a realistic style. The industrial revolution was responsible for new influences thereafter. American literature is also known for development of popular literary genres such as hard-boiled crime fiction. As far as dance is concerned, USA has its share of dance varieties like the trademark Lindy Hop and its derivative Rock and Roll. There is also the modern square dance and the modern dance. In addition to this, there is a wide influence of several African-American dances.
► Languages in America: United States of America does not have an official national language as such. However the majority of American population speaks English. Owing to the large number of immigrants from Spain, Spanish is the second-most common language in America. In addition to this, some other languages that exist owing to the immigrants are German, Polish, Italian and Greek.
► American Clothing: In general terms, American clothing is diverse and predominantly informal. One of the most popular pieces of clothing that originated in America was the ‘Blue jeans’, which were touted as ‘work clothes’ in the 1850s by an immigrant merchant called Levi Strauss.
► American Cuisine: Like every other cultural element, the American cuisine too has a strong European influence. The commonly used ingredients in American cooking are subject to change as you move from one region to the other. Some of the popular preparations in the American cuisine are the American pie, banana split, brownies, corn dogs, crab cakes, hamburgers, clam chowder, lobster, hotdogs, New-York style cheesecake and the Italian-influenced pizza.
► American Festivals: In addition to the traditional Christmas, Good Friday and New Year celebrations, Americans also celebrate various other festivals like Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween, St.Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper. You can also read more about Native American Culture.
India is known for its spicy curries and healing techniques of Yoga, however there is much more the Indian culture has to offer. Indian culture has its roots in the Indus valley Civilization from where it witnessed the Vedic Age. India then witnessed the rise and decline of Buddhism, the Muslim invasions and the European colonization. Here is a brief attempt to give you an insight into the Indian culture.
► Indian Religions: India is a secular country, which includes a diverse population, with various religions. Some of the prominent religions followed in India remain to be Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity.
► Indian Art: Indian art essentially goes hand in hand with the cultural history, religion and fundamental Indian philosophies. The rock carvings, Chola fresco paintings, Madhubani paintings are some instances of ancient Indian art. Indian Music is also a prominent element of Indian culture which traditionally includes Carnatic and Hindustani music.
► Indian Festivals: India has a wide variety of festivals and celebrations originating from the numerous religions that co-exist in India.
► Chinese culture is known to be one of the four most ancient civilizations of the world. Therefore, its culture is very vivid and diverse. It also boasts of a very elaborate written history which holds some of the oldest facts about the richness of Chinese culture. There are many facets attached to Chinese culture and civilization; such as their medicine, food, marshal art forms, et al.
► Japan’s culture is laden with so many elements like Japan’s music, costume, dance, attire, food, and many such things that it becomes imperative to know it, inside out. Geisha, Samurai, Kimono, are only some of the elements which have drawn everyone’s attention since decades. There are lots which need to be explored.
► When we come across the etymological background of words in many comprehensive studies, most often we come across those words which have been introduced into the English dictionary, but their origin is from Greek scriptures. It goes without saying that Greek culture is rich and vast. It has got immense information which until deeply studied, remains beyond understanding. Read more about the Greek Culture.
► The culture of Egypt is beyond just the Pharaohs. It is a complex blend of many cultures of the world which resulted from the complex process of cultural diffusion and cultural assimilation. There is a whole gamut of intricacies which lend the culture of Egypt a mystic touch, which can be cracked only after a detailed study. Read more about the Egyptian Culture.
► Mayan culture has left an indelible mark in its long trails of history about mathematics, architecture, scriptures, and many more such things of interest. They have a long history of agriculture too, and their language is diverse. Read more about Mayan Culture.
► The culture of Colombia is the result of a mixed pot attribute. It has been in the forum of development which was grossly influenced by the European, African and native Indian cultures. Needless to say, there is such a spectacular facet to the culture of Colombia. Read more about Culture of Colombia.
► There is a host of languages that are spoken here, which implies the variety of culture prevalent here. However, the official language is Spanish. Read more about Culture of Dominican Republic.
► Jamaica is a rich culture, which has been influencing other cultures too. There wouldn’t be too many people who have not heard about the wonders that Jamaican sports and music render. Rastafarianism was a result of the rebellion against colonization, but in present times it is more than just a gang of structured rebels. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to consider Rastafarianism as a way of life for many. Read more about Jamaican Culture.
► The land of the Maya, the Aztec, and many other native American tribes, Mexico is known world-wide for the enduring grand culture that has made it up for all to admire. Though the dominant language is Mexican, there are numerous tribal languages that are spoken by the masses. Also, there are some very famous festivals and ceremonies that are world famous, and have been showcased in the world cinema. Read more about Mexican Culture.
► South Asian culture is exceptionally rich. The reason is simple. There are in all eight different countries which together form this conglomerate culture, known to the world as South Asian culture. The countries which form the South Asian countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, and Bhutan. Just like there are variations in their geographical properties, differences also exist in their cultures. Read more about South Asian Culture.
► Italy has been home to many great episodes of the Roman Empire, historical eras like the Renaissance, architectural excellence, art, literature and the like. To study the depths of the Italian culture, one has to perceive the totality of this cultural amalgamation. There is also very elaborate rituals and customs which adhere to this age-old culture. Read more information about Italian Culture.
► Apart from the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, and the Irish Stout, there are many other things which amount to the emergence of the Irish culture. Irish cuisine is a noted aspect of the long trails of the struggle that Ireland had to go through in the times of economic downturn. There are many tales which narrate the importance of potato and kale in Irish cuisine. However, things have changed immensely with the passage of time. Read more about Irish Culture.
► This comparatively small group of people are a result of colonization and settlement. They aren’t originally from Canada, neither they like to call themselves as French. They are a wonderfully divergent formation of two distinct cultures. Read more about French Canadian Culture.
► This is yet another spectacular result of the intermingling of the cultures from the oriental and the occidental worlds. It has got traces of both China and the UK. Despite these overpowering interferences, Hong Kong can boast of an ethnic culture. Read more about the Hong Kong Culture.
Culture of Peru
► After procuring freedom from the Spanish rule, this nation has stood the test of time, and carved out a culture, unique to them. The culture is an interesting compilation of multiple elements. Find information about the Culture of Peru.
► The land is famous for its picturesque scenic bounty and it is also known as the land of the sailors and ships. There is also a pressing need to know about the emergence of the island country, as it serves as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations. Read more about the Samoan Culture.
► South Korea is overall a very tradition-abiding country. They are etched to their roots to such an extent that, it gets reflected in their hospitality when a tourist pays a visit. Read more about the South Korean Culture.
► When talking about the Spice Route, it becomes almost mandatory to refer to the beautiful land of Malaysia. Like many other countries, Malaysia too is inhabited by a multitude of ethnic groups, and therefore, have a varied culture. Find extensive information about Malaysian Culture.
► Celtic culture has its roots in the European domains. It is one of the oldest cultures that have existed and survived. However, there is a lot more that needs to be addressed to about this culture. Read more about Celtic Culture.
► Inspired by the European culture, Gothic culture is now found in many countries. It has a different genre of music, fashion, cinema, and literature. It is a niche culture in itself. Read more about Gothic Culture.
This was a comprehensive list of most of the cultures that make most of the different World cultures.