Shoes of the World

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What kinds of shoes do people wear around the world? Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at unusual and special shoes from around the world. How does culture influence clothing?

 Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 1 

How much money would you pay for a pair of shoes? Christopher Michael Shellis is a jewelry designer. He designs beautiful jewelry that people can wear around their fingers, necks, or wrists. In 2011, he designed a very interesting pair of shoes. The shoes were made of solid gold. They were covered with over 2,000 shiny diamonds. Shellis called the shoes “jewelry you can wear on your feet”. These shoes cost more money than any other shoes in the world — 140,000 Great British Pounds!

Voice 2 

Most people cannot buy expensive shoes like these. And many people do not even want them! But people everywhere do wear shoes. Today’s Spotlight is on shoes. A shoe seems like a simple thing – it just needs to protect a foot from the ground. But there are many different kinds of shoes from all around the world. And the history and culture of each place has influenced the design of its shoes. Today, we travel around the world looking at shoes!

Voice 1 

In the Middle East, religion has influenced shoe design. One popular kind of shoe here is the babouche. This design of shoe is a traditional shoe from Morocco. Traditional babouches are made from soft leather. They have a pointed toe. Some have bead decorations, or a design made from thin, colored, thread.

Babouche Slippers in Morocco;
Babouche Slippers in Morocco; “Babouche Slippers” (CC BY 2.0) by just_a_cheeseburger
Voice 2 

So how has religion influenced this shoe design? People worshipping at a mosque must remove their shoes. They may not wear shoes when they enter. So, they want a shoe they can remove easily. Babouches cover most of the foot. But they do not cover the heel, or back of the foot. This makes the shoe easy to put on and to remove. People also like babouches because they do not make a person’s foot too hot. And they are very comfortable.

Voice 1 

Religion and culture have also influenced the design of shoes in India. The paduka is a very old shoe design there. Experts believe this design is over 4,000 years old! It is a sandal – it does not cover the whole foot. But it goes on the foot easily and keeps it cool.

Paduka sandal from India;
Paduka sandal from India; Pebble101, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Voice 2 

Padukas have a simple design. A paduka maker cuts a piece of wood into the rough shape of the bottom of a foot. Then, he adds a small knob on the top. This knob is a small round piece of wood. It sits between a person’s first two toes. Under the base of the shoe, there are thin rounded pieces of wood in the back and front. These pieces of wood raise the shoe off the ground.

Voice 1 

The Hindu religion is common in India. Hindus believe they should not harm any living thing. The design of padukas follows this idea. The area of the shoe that touches the ground is very small. It is less likely to harm the ground under it or any insect around it. Also, padukas are never made from leather – animal skin. Instead, they are always made from wood, ivory or metal. Today, very religious people usually wear padukas. Or people may wear them to a special ceremony or event.

Voice 2 

Travel with us now to a much colder climate – the country of Finland, in northern Europe. The people here would not wear sandals at all! Instead, the Saami people of Finland wear very warm boots. The Saami people keep and raise reindeer. Reindeer are very large animals. They have antlers – long, hard, bones that grow from their heads. The Saami people keep the reindeer for food. But the reindeer also provide the Saami with the material for their boots!

Saami boots from Norway;
Saami boots from Norway; Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Voice 1 

Traditional Saami reindeer boots cover a person’s whole foot. And they may cover some of the leg too. The Saami make these traditional boots from reindeer skin leather. The hair on the skin helps make the boots very warm. Reindeer hair is shaped like a tube. It has air inside. This helps keep the reindeer warm. It also means that reindeer boots are very warm! Traditional reindeer boots have a point or a kind of hook at the end – the end of the boot points up.

Voice 2 

Many cultures have influenced the design of shoes. But shoes also become an important part of a culture. This is the case with klompen from the Netherlands. Each klompen shoe is made from a solid piece of wood. The inside of the shoe is cut out, so a foot can go in it. Many people think of klompen when they think of the Netherlands.

An old pair of Klompen from the Netherlands;
An old pair of Klompen from the Netherlands; Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay
Voice 1 

The design of klompen shoes is over 800 years old. They were originally the shoe of factory workers. That is because klompen are excellent at protecting feet. They protect feet from sharp objects and harmful liquid acids. Today, few people wear klompen as a common shoe. But people may wear them for working outside. And they are a very popular thing people bring home when they visit the Netherlands!

Voice 2 

Finally, we travel to the island of Japan. Here, we see geta. Geta are a traditional shoe in Japan. A geta sandal is usually made from wood and cloth. When wearing a geta, a person’s foot sits on a long square of wood. In the middle of the geta there is a cloth that forms a shape like a letter “V”. This cloth comes up in the center of the sandal. It goes between a person’s first and second toes, and then to the middle of the sandal. When a person’s foot is in geta, it is not in the center of the geta. But this also means each geta – the one for the right foot, and the one for the left foot – looks the same.

Geta Sandals from Japan;
Geta Sandals from Japan; Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay
Voice 1 

Under the base of the shoe there are two straight wooden “ha”. This word means “teeth” in the Japanese language. There are ha in the front and in the back. Usually geta are about 3-5 centimetres tall. They are a popular shoe for men and women in Japan.

Voice 2 

It is easy to see how each place and each culture needs their own kind of shoe. Is there a special kind of shoe in your culture? Did we leave out a kind of shoe you want to hear about? Tell us what you think. You can email us at You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States.  You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, “Shoes of the World”.

Voice 2 

Visit our website to download our free official app for Android and Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Is there a popular shoe in your culture? What is your favorite kind of shoe?



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  • With me, I really like sandal and sneaker because It makes me feel active and polite. Besides, sandals and sneakers are very easy to mix any clothes such as dress, shirts, trousers,… I can wear it to go to school or to work or hang out with my friends. It is convenient and comfortable. I always choose a good brand to buy the quality of a shoe. The aim protects my leg.

  • It is very interesting video it improves me how the traditional and even religious have influenced shoes all over the world

  • In Việt Nam has a traditional shoes is called “dép lào” it make by rubber. It has shaped like geta of Japan. Nowadays there are many models of it and they make it by different materials.

  • In my country, the prices of the home used shoes about $3-10. If I need the pair of shoes to work or school, I will save money and buy it.

  • Yes I think a zanoopa he popular fo my culture, my favorite shoes a sneaker i can wear it over a dress or jeans wherever, and very comfortable

    • yes , in the meddle Est for popular kind zannopa its special for home , However thank you for this broadcast its amazing..

  • Shoe design in India is very interesting. They have special shape. I wonder how to wear them on feet. I think you will have hard to move while wearing them.

  • In my country we have a traditional shoes and it is boots with high heels, with a longitudinal slit in the tops, embroidered with strips of green leather, boots with felt stockings, with soft soles, pointed toes, as well as quilted felt boots, ichigi, shokai (pistons).

  • Yes, the famous in my country’s culture is a shoe called (Sharqiun), which is a men’s shoe and I prefer it because it is easy to use and lasts for a long time

  • Shoes have a differnt types in our culture and every one wear what are appropriate for them. For example, people wear Zanooph sandal when they go with their friends to the beach or club and places like that. And also there is another type of shoe called Abu Nmer, it is a old type of shoe in our country. It is so strong shoe because it is made from tiger leather and also it is easy for every one to buy it . Finally ,people chose what they like to wear and chose the appropriate type for their occasion or moment.

  • The most popular shoe is sandal in ksa for man but is women the most popular is heel shoes i think make them more attractive,

    i favorite of sport shoes it is very comfortable

  • Hello
    I’m from morocco so the traditional shoes is the babouche, there is so many types of the babouche and sandals that made with soft leather.

  • it is interesting episode ~~
    for my answer yes for sure we have popular shoes in my culture * I’m not sure what we call it * BUT I’ll try to explain it 😀 NOTE : it is for men only
    it is between Babouche & Geta Sandals
    it is have to be easy to wear & take of because they have to go to mosque 5 time a day
    But it is look like geta sandals more
    * maybe we call it sandals i really can’t remember T^T *
    anyway it is made from leathers i really would put some picture but there is no option for that :(( Bey Bey
    oh i forget to mention that I’m from Saudi Arabia

  • In Algeria, we have many types of shoes, for example the balrin made of animal leather for man and with cloth for woman

  • In Perú, at list 3000 years bc, people used a kind of llama’s leather named “Ojota”or “usuta”

  • In Mexico exist various artesanals types of shoes, for example the “matewas” are for the desert, or “huaraches michoacanos” in the central region for this country.

  • Yes we have a popular shoe it’s name neaal
    But this is only for men here in Saudi Arabia

    But for me a like a sports shoes

  • Yes there is
    In saudi Arabia is shos men is diffrent from women it is called Zebrreah made in leather and made in hand embroidered with threads and to her many colors

  • It is an interesting subject! . It shows us how shoes are different from place to place. Each place Remakes shoes depending on their climate and religion and we do not forget culture is playing role.

  • Yes, exactly in our Araba countries, there are a lot kinds of shoes, for instead, in my country Iraq, there are a sandals made from strong plastic and two pieces of soft leather fir catch the toes and a big more pile of kinds shoes or sandals

  • Yes, in our country most of shoes made from leather but anther shoes made from leather of Tigger this is an expensive cost a thousands of pounds this called ( marqoob). This is shoes especialy for men, the shoes cover all the foot. Women wear shoes made from leather but not cover all foot.

  • thanks a million about lovely topic ,,,It is very interesting video it improves me how the traditional and even religious have influenced shoes all over the world

  • this is very good wed side for English learning i am very happy. but does not download video with vices. I request you . pleas make possibly. My century is Pakistan .we are speak Urdu. I want that pleas make English learning video for children’s.

    thank you

  • Yes there is but people do not wear it often anymore but back in 2000s men in who go to the mosques regularly always wore them, they looked Abit like a slipper but we’re made of leather and looked more fashionable but the shape as a whole was designed as a slipper so they can wear them and remove their foot of it easily. It was a very common thing in Saudi Arabia the country I live in, there’s very religious men who still wear it and appreciate it until now tho

  • We have one kind is famous in our country the name of shoe is Sandal and also we prefer that one coz our country is hot in the summer also we prefer to wear Sandals when we go to mosque to be easy to remove it.

  • Yes , in Sudan we have a traditional shoe for men called “Markoob” it’s made of leather of tigers , snakes(Boas) and also cows.

  • We have several types of shoes, each of which has a use. The sandal is used on a daily basis for the man when he goes anywhere, and it is also used for the bathroom. And the boots are used to work or go to study. High heel shoes are used when going to an event such as a wedding.

    My favorite shoes is sandal .it’s comfortable

  • Yes we have traditional shoes called “ نعال زبيري”( neal zpiry I hopeI write it correctly ) mans usually wear it’s comfortable and easy to waer

  • Nowadays, there are many kind of shoes for chosen such as neaker,sandal, sport,fashion… To me I like sandals and sports shoes. These shoes is easy to mix any closes , felling convenient and comfortable when go to work or go out somewhere. It’s make me more confident!

  • I have many kind of shoes such as sneakers, sandals, sports shoes, and fashion shoes .Before, I had a fitter for Skechers brand. The sport shoes is my favotite shoes and I often wear to work, do exercise every morning or going out somewhere. This shoe is a popular shoe in my live which is young people like it.

  • Yes, In Saudi Arabia, we have traditional shoes called Zubairiah. It is made from leather. I like Morocan babouche. Once I travelled to the Netherlands and I got the Klompen as souvenir.

  • In my county have “Dep cao su” it is made from rubber tyre, it was made at war, because in that time is really miserable and privation and how to get a shoe was very difficult. So, they have to search how to make a shoe to server the war against the enemy, they used rubber tyre was broke to make to a new shoes, it very very durable. And now it is still very popular with us

  • Thank you for this story. I will continue to became better . To be honest i like this program and i am comfortable with this program

  • Yea we have I Saudi Arabic shoes they are called Zebirah . The are made by genuine leather . They are for man.

  • The popular shoe in my country Algerie is shoe of almajboud it’s a traditionnel shoes to describe the culture of my country and it characterized it’s comfortable for wear it . In addition, my favorite kind of shoe it’s a plan shoe I feel to wear by confortable and also I like boots espially in winter to preserve my foot from cold weather.

  • Popular shoe in my culture Athletic Shoe and this my favorite shoe it is comfortable ,wonderful and shape very beautiful I like this shoe.

  • Here in Syria we a kind of shoes they are (Qubqab قبقاب ) they are like geta but with only one heel in the end and a piece of leather in the front so that toes are visible

  • for me ,my favorite shoe is Sandal because it’s make me more comfortable and active, and i can wear it with all types of clothes, and every ceremony or events, and make my feet look more relaxed, thanks so much for this broadcast

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