Being a country in Scandinavia, Norway is popularly inhabited by people of Norwegian origin and a mixture of other Europeans. It is generally beautiful and dominated by deep fjords along the cost, glaciers, and mountains. Norway has an estimated population of 5 million people with staggering GDP of $0.4 trillion. The country has stable political climate and has been constantly ranked by the UN as one of the most stable societies in the world. By contrast, Colombia is a politically unstable country that has for years witnessed a political strike against the government. Colombia is a Latin American country, lying in Southern part of South America. This discourse does not intent to pit Colombia against Norway, but will explore cultural, economic, and political differences between the two countries.
Norway and Colombia: A Comparison
Norway is among the world’s wealthy nations, positioned in top thirty by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Yohannes & Solibakke, 2015). This nation is located in Europe and has a population of about 5 million people. Officially, this nation is a monarchy and is, thus, known as the Kingdom of Norway. Colombia, on the other hand, is in South America, and it has about 48 million people (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015). The nominal GDP places this nation as the 32nd in the world, meaning that the economy is relatively stable and, thus, attractive for business (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015). However, in order to fully appreciate the potential of each of these nations, this paper explores the differences in political, cultural, and economic environment between Norway and Colombia.
Norway is one of most politically stable nations with the world’s most developed democracy. Norwegians have been voting since the 1800s, with the country practicing multi-party politics, where the government and the opposition have similar views on unemployment and infrastructural development (Bandarage, 2011). The country maintains impeccable peace and stability, and this is a strong determinant for the ease, with which one can do business there. Political factions are not polarized, and the country’s leadership has common interest with public. They are working towards a better, wealthier, and more influential nation with wider and more effective trade networks across the globe. Currently, Norwegian political situation remains one of the nation’s greatest strengths, as right and left parties seem to have much to agree on in terms of running the country. Democratic context in this country is impeccable and thus very favourable for business, compared to that in any part of the world. This explains the country’s relatively low power distance, with citizens being able to participate in all critical decisions made by the nation. Politicians in Norway are truly representative of their electorate.
Colombia, on the other hand, has not been so fortunate. For a long time, this country has suffered from partisan war with rebels, denying any form of peace, until recently when a cease fire was called, as the President offered to sign a peace agreement to end conflicts (Williams & Disney, 2015). Political environment in the country is rather stable, with elected President and relatively sound government ,but there are rebels who have acted like terrorists within the country for a very long time. These rebels work to undermine the government’s efforts to building the nation, but they have not been very successful, especially in the recent years. This explains why the country’s GDP is higher than that of many other nations, which are more peaceful. Thus, despite turmoil in Colombian politics, one must appreciate the nation’s efforts and success in stabilizing its economy, especially over the past few years (Williams & Disney, 2015). Colombia may not be the safest nation in terms of politics at the moment, but the challenges are relatively minor to the economy. The government is also currently working towards resolving the situation sustainably.
In this reference, one must consider different historical contexts of Colombia and Norway. Norway is a multi-cultural society, which has welcomed many immigrants and asylum seekers in the 20th century and beyond (Tharmalingam, 2013). Like many other nations that were relatively stable at the time when most civilizations were intolerant in one way or another, Norway slowly became home to people from various cultural backgrounds with roots in Africa, Asia, and America, as well as some European nations. This means that the basis of Norwegian culture is highly multicultural. The national language is predominantly Norwegian, although Sami, Northern Sami, Southern Sami, and Lule Sami are also officially used in many parts of the country (Tharmalingam, 2013). Other commonly spoken languages include Tavringer and Romani (Tharmalingam, 2013). There are Norwegians who have endeavored to learn English and other foreign languages, but they are rarely used unless in the company of foreigners with no knowledge of Norwegian dialects.
Colombians are also different in terms of language, as they mostly speak Spanish. This nation is not as multicultural as Norway. Like many other South American countries, Colombia did not host many immigrants or asylum seekers. In fact, the nation has lost many of its citizens who preferred going abroad and living as refugees and asylum seekers owing to violence encountered by the nation, especially at the end of 20th century (Ng'weno, 2007). The official language is Spanish, although lately English has also become widely accepted within the nation as an attempt to belong internationally. This means that in order to do business in Colombia and Norway, one may be safe with fluent English, but there is a need to also develop fluency in other common languages, depending on how deep into the countries one is likely to venture.
In terms of the culture, as proposed by Hofstede, Colombia shows progress in power distance, masculinity, indulgence, and uncertainty avoidance while falling behind on individualism and long term orientation (Ng'weno, 2007). Norway, on the other hand, shows little interest in power distance, masculinity and long term orientation, while being deeply concerned about indulgence, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism. It can be noted that the two countries are similar in terms of their long term orientation and indulgence. This means that both societies are normative, where people appreciate truth and respect traditions. Moreover, Colombians and Norwegians are all likely to realize their impulses and desires rather than control them.
Norway is a wealthy nation that greatly depends on export, namely, for up to 40% of its GDP (Yohannes & Solibakke, 2015). The nation has mixed economy with some level of state-ownership in important sectors. The nation used to be dependent on agricultural industry but currently it is also highly involved in technology, manufacturing, mining, energy, fishing, forestry, as well as domestic trade. Generally, Norwegian economy is very strong and stable. The country is also a part of numerous trade blocks, including OECD, WTO, and EEA. With GDP estimated at about $0.4 trillion in 2017, it can be stated that there is not much concern about this country’s economy (Yohannes & Solibakke, 2015). The government has over the years worked to develop numerous policies that protect the economy from negative influence not only of foreigners but also its citizens. As the nation is already significantly developed, its growth mostly focuses on expanding the country’s trade with other countries. This explains wide use of technology and innovation in relation to manufacturing industry, farming, mining, and energy.
Colombian economy is relatively more interesting, with the country engaged in agriculture, mining, energy, construction, finance, and manufacturing. By contrast, agriculture, mining, and energy have been main contributors to Colombian GDP over the past few years (Central Intelligence Agency, 2015). It can be stated that Colombia remains engrossed in reparation phase after all the destruction that the country had to witness in the hands of rebels. This means that most industries are relatively small and yet they manage to contribute effectively to large GDP. Colombia also has a wealth of natural resources. This means that with effective leadership and management, the country should be able to harness its true economic potential and become an economic stronghold in South American region. With vast fertile lands, impressive climate, ample mines, and other assets, this country has the potential to become not only a food basket but also the leading exporter in the region. It can be expected if relative peace is maintained, for Colombia has the ability to compete with the US and China. The country’s large population is mostly poor, with immense wealth being consolidated at upper class of the society. With better labor laws and business policies, the country should be able to lower its Gini coefficient and provide financial freedom to bigger part of the population.
Norway and Colombia are very different in the sense that more people are rich in Norway, whereas more people are poor in Colombia. Political contexts in either country seem to define socioeconomic status of its citizens. To be more exact, Colombians have been subjected to a many-year partisan war, while Norwegians have enjoyed relative peace for over two centuries. Colombia and Norway both provide favourable opportunities for manufacturing and selling; however, in Colombia this happens due to large population that provides cheap labor and market, whereas in Norway due to high purchasing power and remarkable technological innovations that support effective production ventures. Doing business in Colombia and Norway becomes difficult only when it comes to language, considering the fact that English can be used in either country, but local dialects are more popular.