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first /etc/profile is a global profile for the system
its not only specific to root
from here you can configure the system wide paths
Regardless of the shell you are using, when you first log in your system generally runs the system profile file, /etc/profile. This file is generally owned by the system administrator and is readable (but not writable) by all users.
After your system executes the system profile, it runs the user profile. The user profile is one (or more) initialization files that define your working environment. For example, if you're in the CDE environment your system checks this file (or set of files) each time you start a new terminal or window.
man page here