This is called a negative earth system, and when buying an electrical accessory a radio, for example check that it is of a type suitable for your car system. Fitting a radio with the incorrect polarity will damage the set, but most car radios have an external switch for setting the polarity to suit that of the car. Switch to the correct setting before fitting.
The electrical system of a car is a closed circuit with an independent power source the battery. It operates on a small fraction of the power of a household circuit.
Wire and cable sizes are classified by the maximum amperage that they can carry safely. A complex network of wires runs through the car. To avoid confusion, each wire is colour coded (but only within the car: there is no national or international system of colour-coding).
The starter motor has its own heavy cable, direct from the battery. The ignition circuit furnishes the high-tension impulses to the sparkplugs; and the charging system includes the generator, which recharges the battery. All the other circuits are called ancillary (subsidiary) circuits.