International Greeting Types

Written by melissa sherrard
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International Greeting Types
Certain greeting types are used by cultures in different parts of the world. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Across the globe, people of different cultures and beliefs greet each other in various ways. Some groups follow strict codes of etiquette each time they join the company of friends and new acquaintances, while others embrace everyone they meet as an equal at the beginning of each new encounter. Consider these types of international greetings the next time you plan on travelling to an exotic location or are meeting a foreigner for the first time.

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The greeting salutation of "Namaste" originated India and today it is also widely used in Nepal and among followers of the Hindu faith. The spoken greeting of "Namaste" is accompanied by individuals pressing the palms of their hands together, holding them near their heart and a slight bow. According to Aadil Palkhivala of YogaJournal, "Namaste" is a greeting in which individuals acknowledge the souls in one another and it stems from the belief that a "divine spark" is located within the heart chakra of each person. Palkhivala goes on to say that "Namaste" translates to the phrase "I bow to you" and the greeting is a sign of respect for the individual as well as life itself.

Hongi Welcome Greeting

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand; they arrived on the island formerly known as Aotearoa more than 1,000 years ago. The traditional greeting of the Maori is called "Hongi," which loosely means "the sharing of breath of life" and it is performed by individuals touching or rubbing noses upon their initial meeting. This ceremonial greeting is akin to Western handshakes or kissing someone's face upon an encounter.

Inuit Greetings

Giving "Eskimo kisses" is a somewhat misleading representation of how native inhabitants of Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Siberia greet each other. The greeting is known as a "kunik," an Inuit tradition that actually involves sniffing the cheeks, nose and forehead of a friend or family member rather than rubbing noses. This act of greeting is a sign of affection and it involves pressing the nose and upper lip against the skin of loved ones to breathe in their scent.


In Japan, bowing is the traditional and most commonly used way men, women and children greet one another, as shaking hands is an uncommon practice in their culture. Bows range from small, informal nods of acknowledgement among friends to deep, 90-degree bends at the waist when addressing someone of higher social status. Long, deep bows are symbols of caring and respect in Japanese culture and they are performed with a straight back and eyes cast down. Men place their hands to the sides, while women clasp their hands together.

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