CulturalAwareness: Meaning of Culture
CulturalAwareness: Meaning of Culture
Peopleobserve different cultural practices depending on their ethnicbackground. This difference creates the need for cultural awarenessin order to minimize conflicts. The term culture is defined indifferent ways. However, its standard definition refers to a complexwhole that includes art, morale, belief, customs, knowledge, laws,and other capabilities as well as habits that human beings acquire asmembers of the society. The concept of culture is defined by five keycharacteristics. First, the elements that form culture are learnedfrom different sources, such as institutions, media, peers, andfamilies, among others (Nowaczyk, 2016). Secondly, culture can beshared among members of a given group, which helps them act in waysthat are socially appropriate. Third, culture is usually based onsymbols, such as language and visual arts. The fourth element is thefact that it is integrated, which implies that various parts thatform culture are interconnected. Therefore, one should study allparts of a given culture in order to understand it. Lastly, cultureis considered to be dynamic, which implies that it has the capacityto change and interact (Nowaczyk, 2016). For example, most of thecultures in the world are in contact with each other, which allowthem to exchange different symbols and ideas.
Descriptionof the Common Characteristics of Culture
PhysicalGeography of Colombia and Military Conflict History
Colombiawas named after an explorer Christopher Colombia. The country’sphysical geography can be described using different features thatdetermine its identity. The Caribbean Lowlands are characterized bythe presence of the range known as Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta thathas a height of about 5,700 meters (Enchanted Learning, 2016). ThePacific Lowlands have numerals waterfalls and streams in a regionknown as the Cordillera Occidental. The western parts of the PacificLowlands have stumpy mountain ranges that occupy a large area. Thebiggest rivers are found in the Eastern part of the country. Some ofthe major rivers include Orinoco, Amazon, Magdalena, and Cauca.
Militaryconflict has existed in Colombia for about 50 years. The armedconflicts can be attributed to the clash between Conservatives andLiberals, which started following the assassination of the country`sleader, Jorge Eliecia, in the late 1950s (Enchanted Learning, 2016).The communist party organized peasants into groups that turned intoarmed militias that aimed to counter the Liberals and theConservatives. The extensive geography, coupled with the level ofpolitical enmity has reduced the ability of the government to restorepeace in the country.
Colombiais one of the countries with the most complex type of terrain. Itscomplex terrain is characterized by the central highlands, easternlowlands, flat coastal lowlands, and high Andes Mountain (EnchantedLearning, 2016). Pico Cristobal (5,775 m) is the highest point in thecountry (Enchanted Learning, 2016). Pacific Ocean is the country’slowest point. The total of twenty eight mountains further confirmsthe complexity of country’s terrain.
Urbanand Sub-Urban Terrain
Someof the key indicators of the urban terrain in Colombia include therailway and road infrastructure. The two categories of infrastructurefacilitate the movement of the people, security agents, and goodsacross and within the cities. The railway network is well developedin the city of Bogota, but its usage has been reduced due to theissues of insecurity (Nieto-Parra, Olivera & Tibocha, 2013).These issues have limited the capacity of the military to shareresources between cities that are separated by maintaining andranges. However, the extensive road network has allowed thegovernment to overcome the obstacles caused by the complex terrain,thus allowed it to facilitate transport within and in between theurban areas.
KeyInfrastructure/ Political Infrastructure
Politicalinfrastructure refers to policies and public institutions that areestablished by the government, with the objective of enhancing socialand economic relations. In the case of Colombia, the NationalDevelopment Plan established in 2006 indicates the government’sstrategy to enhance social and economic well-being of citizens andforeign investors (Nieto-Parra, Olivera & Tibocha, 2013). Theconstitution that was established in 1991 is the major politicalinfrastructure that guides the government in its efforts to maintainthe rule of the law. In addition, Colombia has managed to establishand strengthen its legal system, in spite of the military conflictsthat have lasted for about half a century. The judiciary is empoweredin order to ensure the law, which is among the key politicalinfrastructures, is used as a tool to protect the rights of thecitizens as well as the foreign investors. The existence of theselegal infrastructures has enabled the government to create anenvironment that has facilitated the development of the key physicalfacilities, such as the railway network, highways (such as La Linea),and the 4G facility that will cost $ 75 billion (Henao, 2016).
Colombiahas a diverse culture that is comprised of practices from the Spanishcolonizers, African slaves, and the Native Indians (Ministry ofCulture, 2016). The three groups have different cultural practicesthat bring challenges in terms of communication. However, theacceptance of the Spanish as a national language has continued toreduce communication barriers, since over 95 % of the people can useit (Ministry of Culture, 2016). Interaction and communication betweendifferent cultural groups started experiencing a significant downfallfollowing the onset of the armed conflicts in the late 1950s (Braun,2012). The level of complexity of terrain can be attributed to theexistence of ranges as well as mountains, which has limited thenumber of infrastructure in some regions. It has also created theimpossibility of utilization communication and transport facilitiesdue to insecurity (Braun, 2012). The onset of the conflict providedthe native communities with an opportunity to displace the Spanishsettlers from land that they believed that it belonged to their forefathers, which worsened the intercultural communication barriers.
Thereare several military conflicts that have occurred in Colombia, butthree of them were the most significant because they affected thesociety as well as the neighboring countries. The Formation of theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia between 1964 and 1966 markedthe beginning of a series of serious conflicts between militias andthe government forces (Peace Direct, 2016). The anti-drug traffickingcampaign that was initiated in 1978 by president Cesar Julio provokedmilitias to engage in armed conflicts with the government’smilitary (Peace Direct, 2016). The 2008 conflict between the militaryand FARC resulted in the killing of the militia’s leader, ReyesRaul, and the diplomatic crisis between Colombia and its neighbors,including Venezuela and Ecuador (Peace Direct, 2016). The conflictresulted in the cross-border strike that affected the neighboringcountries. All the conflicts denied Colombians an opportunity toachieve social, cultural, and economic development.
Colombiais one of the nations that are highly vulnerable to damages caused tochanges in weather and climatic conditions. These effects are oncountry’s population are attributed the long coastal line, numerousmountains, and large water bodies. For example, the La Nina thatoccurred between 2010 and 2011 affected about 9 % of the nationalpopulation (Hoyos, Restrepo, Ortiz & Arango, 2013). Colombianweather has been conducive for agriculture for many years, but thecountry is now ranked the third in the list of the nations affectedthe most by crop losses due to poor weather (Hoyos, 2013). Inaddition, poor weather makes it difficult for cartels to smugglegoods into the country. For example, studies have shown that theprice of heroin goes up by at least $ 4 in the months with hurricanesince routes leading to Venezuela and U.S. are inaccessible (Hoyos,2013). However, cases of insurgency are likely to intensify in monthswith poor weather conditions since it is quite challenging for thegovernment forces to reach the affected areas and restore order.
Colombiahas a multicultural society, but its armed conflicts are more relatedto differences in political ideologies than the diversity of itspeople. The country`s terrain can be characterized by the existenceof mountains and ranges that make it difficult to establishinter-city transport as well as communication infrastructure. Theconstitution and an effective judicial system are some of the keypolitical infrastructures that have helped Colombia restore theconfidence of citizens and foreign investors. In addition, the use ofthe Spanish language in communication has bridged the interculturalgaps. Weather changes have affected the Colombian population in anegative way, especially with regard to the agricultural practices.
Braun,H. (2012). Armedconflicts and ethnic diversity: Colombia.New York, NY: New York University.
EnchantedLearning (2016). Colombia. EnchantedLearning.Retrieved September 17, 2016, fromhttp://www.enchantedlearning.com/southamerica/colombia/
Henao,L. (2016). Colombia thinks big with $ 70 billion infrastructureprogram. TheWorld Folio.Retrieved September 17, 2016, fromhttp://www.theworldfolio.com/news/colombia-thinks-big-with-70-billion-infrastructure-program/3959/
Hoyos,N., Restrepo, J., Ortiz, J. & Arango, A. (2013). Impact of the2010-2011 the La Nina phenomenon in Colombia, South America: Thehuman toll of an extreme weather event. AppliedGeography,39, 16-25.
Ministryof Culture (2016). Colombian culture. Embassyof Colombia.Retrieved September 17, 2016, fromhttp://www.colombiaemb.org/node/1331
Nowaczyk,J. (2016). What is culture? Study.Retrieved September 17, 2016, fromhttp://study.com/academy/lesson/the-five-basic-characteristics-of-cultures.html
Nieto-Parra,S., Olivera, M. & Tibocha, A. (2013). Thepolitics of transport infrastructure policies in Colombia.Paris: OECD Development Center.
PeaceDirect (2016). Colombia conflict timeline. PeaceDirect.Retrieved September 17, 2016, fromhttps://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/colombia/conflict-profile/conflict-timeline/