The Chilean flag is often referred to in Spanish as la estrella solitaria (the lone star) because of the fact that it bears a single, five-pointed star. The star represents a guide to honor and progress, while the field of blue that surrounds it is meant to symbolize the Chilean sky and the Pacific Ocean. The white and red portions of the flag represent the magnificent snow-covered Andes and the Chilean blood spilled during the fight for independence.
However, as is often the case, Chile’s flag has undergone a few changes over the years. In fact, the first Chilean flag looked nothing like its modern-day counterpart, as it consisted of three horizontal stripes that were blue, white and yellow respectively. This initial Chilean flag was created during the country’s struggle for independence, when the government of José Miguel Carrrera ordered that it be created. The flag was raised for the first time on July 4, 1812, at a banquet celebrating the independence of the United States. Apparently, the American Revolution had greatly influenced Chileans and motivated them in the struggle for independence.
The second Chilean flag was adopted after the triumph of Chacabuco on May 28, 1817. It was called la Bandera de la Transición (the Flag of the Transition). La Bandera de la Transición was very similar the first Chilean flag, simply replacing the yellow horizontal stripe with a red one. Juan Gregorio Las Heras is credited with designing it, but the colors themselves originate in the verses of a poet named Alonso de Ercilla. Blue, white and red were also the colors of the French Revolution, which, like the American Revolution, inspired Chileans. However, la Bandera de la Transición was never actually made official and it simply disappeared after about five months.
The disappearance of la Bandera de la Transición cleared the way for Chile’s current flag, la estrella solitaria, to be adopted. The flag itself was conceived by a man named José Ignacio Zenteno and designed by Antonio Arcos, although some Chileans claim that Gregorio de Andía y Varela actually drew it up. The flag was made official on Oct. 18, 1817, but it wasn’t until 1854 that the official proportions of each color were set, while the star’s diameter didn’t become official until 1912. Many people consider the Chilean national flag to be one of the world’s most beautiful; it’s even rumored that the Chilean flag actually won a “Most Beautiful National Flag in the World” contest in Belgium.