What Paints The Cultural Canvas of Our World Today?
It is estimated by the Encyclopedia of World Cultures that there are about 500+ unique cultures on the earth in our modern world (Gall, T. L. 1997 Gale Pub). This reference manual addresses the following uniquenesses of these cultures: historical origins; location; language; folklore; religion; major holidays; rites of passage; interpersonal relations; living conditions; family; clothing; food; education; heritage; work; sports; entertainment ; crafts and hobbies; and social problems. It is obvious that cultures are complex and require focused efforts to be properly understood.
What Paints The Cultural Canvas of Our World Today?
To better understand the diversity of the world we live in I have enclosed a summary from the CIA World Factbook (see Tables 1-5). This shows you a quick snapshot of the social structures that underlie our very populated world and the 500+ cultures in it. In Table 1 you can see that collectively Christians make up about one-third of the world populations. But, for the first time ever, Muslims at 21 percent represent the largest religion having surpassed the Roman Catholic Church. The Muslim faith (Islam) grows rapidly because Muslims often practice polygamy and have a higher birthrate than parents in other religions.
Table 1: Religions of the World 2007 (Estimated by CIA)
· Christians all combined 33.32%
o Roman Catholics 16.99%
o Protestants 11.55%
o Orthodox 3.53%
o Anglicans 1.25%
· Muslims 21.01%
· Hindus 13.26%
· Buddhists 5.84%
· Sikhs 0.35%
· Jews 0.23%
· Baha’is 0.12%
· Other 11.78%
· Non-religious 11.77%
· Atheists 2.32
In Table 2 you can see the commonality of Chinese, Spanish, and English. Although the 13.22 percent does not appear to be very high, keep in mind that it’s 13.22 percent of 6.7+ billion. China has 1.3 billion inhabitants and comprises roughly 1 out of 6 people on the planet (India has about 1 billion and almost the same percentage of the world population). Many languages are not listed because there are thousands of dialects and local variations on these major languages. China with 1.3 billion has two forms of Chinese language: Mandarin and Cantonese. Sheer massive numbers in populations speaking Chinese explain part of the data below.
Table 2: Languages of the World 2005 (Estimated by CIA)
· Mandarin Chinese 13.22%
· Spanish 4.88%
· English 4.68%
· Arabic 3.12%
· Hindi 2.74%
· Portuguese 2.69%
· Bengali 2.59%
· Russian 2.20%
· Japanese 1.85%
· Standard German 1.44%
· Wu Chinese 1.17%
Table 3 shows that the world’s population has exploded in the last century and continues to grow rapidly. Never in the history of this world have so many numbers of people lived at the same time with so many co-existing and equally valid cultural heritages. World Population Grows 19.97 births per 1,000 - 8.32 deaths per 1,000= 11.65 natural increase (net growth) and you can see simulated real-time population growth chart at http://www.worldometers.info/ . The world’s population is continuing to grow. I’d like to live long enough to see the year 2050. Many scientists have predicted the population growth to reach 9 billion worldwide by 2050 (see http://www.prb.org/pdf08/08WPDS_Eng.pdf ). This implies a continuation of increasing numbers of people belonging to the cultures of the world from this point forward.
Table 3: World Population Estimate (Estimated by CIA for July 2008)
· Total world population grew from:
· 1820=1 billion
· 1930=2 billion
· 1960=3 billion
· 1974=4 billion
· 1988=5 billion
· 2000=6 billion
· 2008 July= 6,677,563,921 (The US has only 1/16th of the world’s size with 305 million people)
Table 4 shows that the males and females are not equally distributed throughout the world’s population. In the childhood years there are more males (about 56 million more). In the working years of 15-64 there are 53 million more males. But, in the 65 and older age group, there are far more females with 62 million more. By the time people age into the later years males have died off sooner than females and we find that the worldwide aging experience is dominated more by the female rather than male experience.
Table 5 shows more detail of gender differences in the world by showing the Sex Ratio, the number of males per 100 females. Again the sex ratio is highest for newborns, children, and working ages. Yet, the older the age group the lower the sex ratio.
Table 5: The World by Sex Ratios (Estimated by CIA)
· At birth=107 males/100 females
· Under =15 106 males/100 females
· 15-64=102 males/ 100 females
· 65+=78 males/100 females
· Total of all ages 101 males/100 females
Tables 1-5 were taken from Internet on 22 May, 2008 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html
I hope that you can see some of the global picture in terms of who lives in the world today and which cultures they are a part of in their daily lives. In order to truly understand these varying cultures you must first understand the concept of one’s World-taken-for-granted, which is all of the assumptions about our fit into our social and physical environment. Each of us has a unique world-taken-for granted. Each has myriad interactions, experiences, interactions, and life course progressions that are too numerable to calculate. So, our world-taken-for-granted is unique, even though we may grow up in a society with 305 million others. The assumptions is that our world-taken-for-granted works much the same way corrective lenses work on our vision—subtle; barely noticeable unless you are not wearing them; invisible unless your attention is focused to them; and since you’ve worn them for a while, hidden to your conscious mind.