Cultural Differences: Spain & Slovakia Country and Culture Research Assignment October 8, 2008 Adding sparkling lemonade or coke to red wine in Spain during lunch time is usual habit, while in Slovakia, people often drink, with their lunch, still, sparkling and gently sparkling mineral water or, of course beer of Slovak or Czech production.
Even small details make these two countries different.Although there are some similarities among Slovak and Spanish population, mainly between the young generation, country and culture differences, such as general information, history, language, educational system, lifestyle, traditions, or cuisine would predominate. In order to be successful in the Spanish or Slovakian market place, it is important to get known the country, its business culture, etiquette, lifestyle and traditions.
All these have a strong influence on the expenditure of doing business, future economic growth and business culture. General InformationSpain is located in the South-Western part of Europe with an access to Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It has border with Portugal on the West, France and Andorra on the North and Morocco on the South.
Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, two autonomous cities in Northern Africa, also belong to Kingdom of Spain. The whole area of Spain represents 504,788 sq. km with population of 39. 2 million.
Capital city is Madrid. It is also the biggest city by population in Spain, followed by Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and Zaragoza (Facts at a glance, 2006). GDP shown in the Economist journal is 0. % or $1. 4 trillion in 2008. Forecast for future portrays decline by 0. 6% in 2009 while GDP should grow up to 1. 6% in 2010 (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2008 ).
In comparison with Spain, Slovakia is directly situated in the heart of Europe; thus, it is located in the Central Europe. It has border with Austria and Czech Republic on the West, Poland on the North, Ukraine on the East and Hungary on the South. Although Slovakia has no access to sea, its biggest rivers are Danube, Vah and Hron. Territory of Slovakia represents 48,845 sq. km with population of 5. 4 million. The capital city is Bratislava.Similarly to Spain, Bratislava is the biggest city in Slovakia followed by Kosice, Banska Bystrica, Zilina and Nitra.
GDP in Slovakia is much lower than the one in Spain. It represents $36 billion (Basic macroeconomic data for the Slovak Republic, 2005). Government in Spain is different than in Slovakia. Spain still keeps their queens and kings; therefore, there is a constitutional monarchy while it has just the representative function. More important issues and decisions are left on the Prime Minister. In comparison, Slovakia has its own president, government and parliament.Climate and natural resources are another important part of general information.
Mild and warm Mediterranean climate of Spain represents benefit in form of good conditions for agriculture, mainly for cultivation of many kinds of fruits and vegetables (Weather in Spain, 2007). It also gains from winter season because its ski resorts on the North, in perfect condition with the new technologies, develop winter tourism while over the summer season, it benefits from tourists enjoying seaside and historical monuments. In comparison, Slovakia in majority gains from winter season because 70% of Slovak land consists of mountains.These give very good opportunities for winter sports. Another advantage which makes Slovakia attractive is not seaside but variety of hot springs, spas and wellness centers. History History of both countries is unique. While Slovakia was dependent on other countries for centuries, Spain was seen as a colonial imperium. However, in several battles with the USA, Spain lost Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam.
Moreover, since 1939 till 1975, this country was led by nationalist Franco. When he died in 1975, dictatorship turned to democracy.Since 1978, the king Juan Carlos has formed constitutional monarchy and this form of government is kept till present (History, 2008). Spain itself was always independent.
It has never belonged to the power politics of other countries. Unfortunately, Slovakia belonged to upper part of Hungary for centuries; thus, it was dependent. Since 1918, Slovakia together with Czech Republic formed Czechoslovakia. After WW II, it went under the power of communism till 1989. The revolution turned these countries to democratic structure; furthermore, in January 1993, Slovakia itself has finally become an independent state.Historical bases influence the thinking and attitudes of people; thus, it is also helpful in business culture. Language While Slovak language, official language in Slovakia, comes from Slavic group of languages, Spanish language and its modifications belong to Roman group of languages.
Even though it is more beneficial to speak Spanish in Spain, they also speak English. In matters of business, it follows the international model and makes it easier for both or more sides of potential or permanent business partners.However, the etiquette of business more than welcomes at least some words especially in greeting and titling people. Spain also consists of four historical and autonomous areas, Catalunya, Basque Country, Valencia, and Galicia while only Catalunya has its own language that is official in Barcelona and its close surroundings (Strong, 2008). Thus, it is not surprising to find names and signs in Catalan language there.
It represents their heritage and they take it seriously; therefore, it is very respectful to learn at least some basic words, such as “thank you”, “please” or some phrases in this language.Of course, each part, excluding already mentioned Catalunya, has modified Spanish language with some dialects but not such different from specific Catalan language. Although Slovak language is the only official one in Slovakia, it has also its strong dialects that are specific for Eastern, Central and Western part. However, Southern part, that used to belong to upper Hungary historically, still keeps Hungarian language although it is not the official language there. As a result, foreigners could find signs and names in Slovak but also in Hungarian language at some places.Language is very important in communication, especially, in business strategies and decisions; nevertheless, it is efficient that both countries accept English as an international language to make it easier for its business communication.
Educational System Educational system is quite specific in each country. In Spain, children usually attend nursery school till 6 years of age. This is optional. Primary school is mandatory and free of charge and must be attended in age of six till age of twelve. High school is also mandatory and free for students and is attended from the age of 12 to 16.It provides leaving certificate and could be followed by just two-year additional education which is optional.
It prepares for the university with acquired specialization and qualification. Of course, university is optional after successful attending the additional education, and state universities are usually free of charge. In average, young students usually finish universities in age of 23 or 24 (Educational system, n. d. ). After that, graduates are ready to look for job where they can get and enrich their skills and experiences or even higher qualification.In Slovakia, children can attend nursery and then preschool till age of 7. It is optional and it is not free for parents.
At the age of 7 till age of 16, children must attend primary school that is mandatory and free of charge. Optionally but very often, children continue at the high school of their interest and finish it at the age of 19. After that, they can go to universities.
As in Spain, state universities are free of charge and optional. Slovak students usually finish their universities up to age of 26. This fact is quiet important in business culture.
Lifestyle and TraditionsSpanish are considered as very relaxed, open and warm-hearted people with sense of humor where family is the most important. They keep their close relationship, especially, with mother. Therefore, it is not surprising that children stays with family up to age of 30 or 35. They do not focus on timetables and likely, they are meant to be late for meetings with friends or even with business partners. In business, they first need to know the person well; thus, they keep friendly even familiar relationship. They communicate face-to-face and sometimes they interrupt or speak at once.For this reason, it is the best to highlight foreign business person in polite, respectful, amazed way with sense of humor.
After that, they consider the business possibilities (Kwintessential Ltd. , n. d. ).
Even though Spanish do not follow the trend of being ready on time, Slovaks are trying to follow Western trend of hurry sickness with doing responsibilities as soon as possible. Many times, it creates stressful situations. Everything must be on time with excellent sense for details.
For this reason, Slovaks are considered as very hard working population in terms of work or business. In private, they are very friendly and hospitable.Spanish loves entertainment and traditions. To support this fact, their traditional dance, flamenco, and the unique sport, bullfighting, reflects energy, activity, taste, love and life which is typical for Spanish characters, attitudes and behavior (Spanish art & culture, n. d. ). Spanish vs. Slovakian Cuisine As well as in Slovakia, Spain keeps its lunch as their main dish of the day.
However, they eat with families or friends in time of siesta, the time of break between 2 and 4PM, also during the week days; moreover, they take it as a ceremony and important part of the day with all relaxed and calm atmosphere.Therefore, foreigners hardly find some offices or shops opened at time of siesta. The Mediterranean diet is based on olive oil, red wine, fish and lots of kinds of fruits, vegetables and grains. Spanish usually prefer national and regional recipes. Their typical national lunch consists of still or sparkling water, red wine that is commonly mixed with some sparkling soft drink followed by bread often served with dips of balsamic vinegar or olive oil. The first course is usually gazpacho. It is a cold, red soup made of vegetables.
It could be also flavored by olive oil or cumin together with plate of fresh vegetables.This soup is popular during the hot summer months. Second course represents “tortilla de patata”, also called Spanish tortilla. It is different than Mexican tortilla that is made of corn or flour. Spanish one is made of potatoes and eggs and it is filled with meat, ham or many kinds of vegetables often served with olive oil and green leaf salad.
The final course could be desert, commonly in form of fruit plate or yogurt cup, or coffee and tea. The national Spanish alcohol is called sangria. It is made of red wine, sparkling lemon or orange, orange liqueur, gin, few pieces of fruit, cinnamon and sugar to taste (Spanish recipes and cuisine, n. . ). This alcohol is very typical and reflects Spanish warm climate and open and warm-hearted personalities of Spanish people. In comparison, Slovak national food usually consists of “[p]otatoes, wheat flour, cow and sheep cheese, cabbage, onions and garlic“also added by lentils, beans, corn and lots of kinds and shapes of fruits (What kind of food do people eat in Slovakia? , 2006).
Slovak first course usually consists of hot vegetable soup served with sliced white bread, followed by roast beef, pork or poultry served with cabbage and potatoes. Traditionally, desert was in form of fruit, usually apple, pear or plum. Bryndzove halusky” is one of Slovak specialities. It is made of potato and wheat flour dumplings mixed with traditional sheep cheese scattered with roasted chopped onions and crispy bacon on the top. National and very popular alcohol is called “slivovica” made of plums and strong alcohol. It also reflects Slovaks and not always generous climate. “Slivovica” is still used as a medicine or disinfection as well as it warms the human body quickly in cold weather. To get known the traditional cuisine of each country and its serving helps to identify eating and drinking habits which are also advantage in business culture.
Even some business contracts are discussed and signed during lunch. To conclude, business culture of each country is varied thank to country and cultural differences, such as general information about country, history, language, education, lifestyle and traditions, or even food. To make success in any of foreign countries’ market places, it is advantageous to get known all these factors which influence business culture.
However, it is necessary to remember that specific culture reflects in specific behavior, opinions, attitudes and all in all in business decisions and business itself.References Basic macroeconomic data for the Slovak Republic. (2005). Retrieved October 4, 2008 from the web page: http://www. slovensko. com/about/macroeconomy Economist Intelligence Unit. (2008, Sept.
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