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Flag of South Sudan

South Sudan is the newest country in the world, having declared its independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011. Many countries adopt a flag after becoming an independent nation, but South Sudan actually adopted its official flag exactly six years before its independence day. The flag of South Sudan was adopted on July 9, 2005, following the end of the Second Sudanese Civil War.

The flag of South Sudan is rectangular with three large horizontal stripes: the top stripe is black, the middle stripe is red, and the bottom stripe is green. Two thinner white stripes appear between the larger colored fields. A blue triangle with a gold star in the center appears on the left side of the flag.

The colored stripes on the flag refer to the Pan-African colors. These colors appear in the flags of many African nations and are also the official colors of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA).

In the flag of South Sudan, the black stripe represents the people of South Sudan; the red stripe represents the blood of all the South Sudanese that fought for their country’s freedom; and the green stripe represents the geographical land and resources of South Sudan. The smaller white stripes on the flag represent the country’s desire for peace.

The blue triangle on the left side of the flag stands for the Nile River, which flows through South Sudan. The gold star in the center of the triangle stands for unity among the people of South Sudan. It also alludes to the Star of Bethlehem, and the relatively large number of Christians residing in South Sudan.

The flag of South Sudan is very similar to the flag of Kenya, which borders South Sudan. Prior to the current flag’s adoption in 2005, the flag of South Sudan was the official banner of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which fought the Sudanese government from 1983 until 2005.

Flag of Armenia

The flag of Armenia was adopted on August 24, 1990. The flag is rectangular and a horizontal tricolor. The top stripe is red, the middle stripe is blue, and the bottom stripe is gold.

The colors on the Armenian flag have symbolic meaning but the exact interpretation varies. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the red stripe has five meanings: it represents “the Armenian highland, the Armenian people’s continual struggle for survival, maintenance of the Christian faith, Armenia’s independence, and freedom.” The blue stands for the Armenian people’s determination to live under peaceful skies. Finally, the orange represents the Armenian people’s creativity and hard-working attitude.

Another tradition presents a slightly different interpretation. The red stands for the bloodshed and lives lost by Armenian soldiers in wartime. The blue represents the sky, and the orange represents the fertility of the Armenian soil and also the agricultural workers.

Previous versions of the Armenian flag are very different from the country’s current banner. The earliest Armenian flags used in ancient times varied by dynasty. The flags would usually include a symbolic animal—a dragon, eagle, or lion, for example—on a solid background.

In the nineteenth century, Armenia split between the Persian and Ottoman Empires and the region did not wave a flag for most of the century. In 1885, however, the Armenian Students Association of Paris requested an Armenian flag to fly at the French writer Victor Hugo’s funeral. Father Ghevont Alishan, an Armenian Catholic Priest, designed Armenia’s first tricolor flag with red, green, and white stripes. Alishan designed the flag with intentions of the red stripe symbolizing “Red” Sunday (the first Sunday of Easter) and the green band symbolizing the “Green” Sunday. Alishan chose white was chosen arbitrarily to complete the flag.

When Armenia gained independence on May 28, 1918, the Democratic Republic of Armenia adopted the first version of the modern Armenian flag. The flag was officially adopted again in 1990 by the Armenian Supreme Soviet (the Armenian legislative body) with a slightly different ratio than the original 1918 flag.

Flag of Sri Lanka

The flag of Sri Lanka, known as the Lion Flag, was adopted on May 22, 1972. The flag is rectangular, bordered in gold, and divided vertically into two sections. On the left side is a rectangle with two vertical stripes: the stripe on the left is green and the stripe on the right is saffron orange. On the larger, right side of the flag is a crimson red rectangle with a gold lion holding a sword. The rectangle also includes four golden bo leaves, one in each corner.

The flag of Sri Lanka has intricate symbolic meaning. The flag was designed to represent the country’s heritage and to unite all races living in Sri Lanka. The lion represents the Sinhalese ethnic group, the majority ethnic population in Sri Lanka, and also represents the nation’s strength. A red flag with a lion on it was used as early as 486 B.C., when Vijaya, the first King of Sri Lanka, arrived on the island from India. The bo leaves are symbolic of Buddhism and its influence on Sri Lanka. The four leaves stand for four Buddhist virtues: kindness, friendliness, happiness, and equanimity. The sword held by the lion represents the nation’s sovereignty. The lion’s hair symbolizes religious observance, wisdom, and meditation, and his beard represents purity of words. The sword’s handle represents the elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The lion’s nose symbolizes intelligence and his paws symbolize purity in matters of wealth.

The remainder of the flag represents Sri Lanka’s minority groups. The vertical saffron stripe represents the Tamil ethnicity and the green stripe represents the Muslim faith and the Moor ethnicity. The flag’s yellow border represents people of all other cultures living in Sri Lanka. The crimson red background behind the elephant stands for minority religions and ethnicities, including the Portuguese and Dutch Burghers, part of Sri Lanka’s colonial heritage.

Flag of Singapore

The flag of Singapore was adopted on December 3, 1959, when Singapore became a self-governing nation within the British Empire. When Singapore gained true independence on August 9, 1965, the flag was officially declared that national banner. The flag is rectangular and divided into two horizontal fields: the top half is red and the bottom half is white. On the left side of the red field is a crescent moon facing five small white five-pointed stars.

The flag of Singapore’s colors and images have symbolic meaning. The red represents “universal brotherhood and equality of man.” The white stands for “pervading and everlasting purity and virtue.” The crescent moon, an important Islamic symbol, represents a young country ascending towards greatness. The stars represent five important national ideals: democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality.

In the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, Singapore was under British rule and part of the Straits Settlements, which included Singapore, Malacca, and Penang. During this time, Singapore used a Blue Ensign that included a British flag in the upper left corner and a red and white symbol on the right side with three crowns on it. During World War II, Singapore was controlled by Japan and flew the Japanese flag.

After World War II ended, Singapore began developing its own flag. The flag was designed in 1959 in just two months and represents a compromise between a several religious and political views. The flag committee initially wanted a flag with an entirely red background, but eventually decided against it because of red’s communist implications in the 1950s. After deciding on a red and white flag, Singapore needed to distinguish itself from countries such as Indonesia, Poland, and Monaco, countries that also flew red and white flags. The Chinese constituency in Singapore advocated for five stars, like the flag of the People’s Republic of China; the Muslim constituency wanted a crescent moon. The inclusion of both symbols represents both populations in Singapore.

Flag of Norway

The flag of Norway was adopted on July 13, 1821. It is rectangular with a red background and a blue Scandinavian cross that is outlined in white.  The cross covers the entirety of the flag but the center of the cross is slightly to the left side of the flag.  The design and colors of the flag resemble the Dannebrog, or the flag of Denmark, except that the Norwegian flag features a blue and white cross while the Donnebrog is plain white.

The colors of the Norwegian are based on the Coat of Arms of Norway, which features a red shield with a golden lion holding an axe.  On top of the shield is a bold crown and a red escutcheon.  The Coat of Arms of Norway originated in the Middle Ages and is one of the oldest coats of arms in Europe.

The history of the Norwegian flag is somewhat unclear, although the flag may have originated during the reign of Inge Haraldsson in the early twelfth century.  During Inge’s rule, a flag with a red lion on a gold background was used.  In the late thirteenth century, Erik II of Norway flew a flag with a golden lion on a red background.  This flag is now known as the Royal Standard of Norway; it is used by the King of Norway and was officially adopted on November 15, 1905.

From 1536 until 1814, Norway united with the Kingdom of Denmark and used the Dannebrog, a red flag with a white Scandanavian cross. When Norway separated from Denmark in 1814, it continued to fly the Dannebrog, but also included the golden lion from its own coat of arms in the upper left corner of the flag.

Fredrik Meltzer, a member of the Norwegian parliament, designed the current flag of Norway. Although the Norwegian chambers approved the design, the King of Norway approved the flag for civilian use only. In 1899, after three consecutive chamber sessions, the flag was finally approved for use as the country’s national banner.

Flag of the Czech Republic

The flag of the Czech Republic was adopted on March 30, 1920, shortly after the formation of the Czech Republic. It is a rectangular flag with a blue isosceles triangle on the left side and two horizontal stripes covering the remaining area.  The top stripe is white and the bottom is red.  The Czech flag is identical to the flag of former Czechoslovakia.

Like many European nations, the colors of the flag of the Czech Republic originated from its coat of arms.  The coat of arms of the Czech Republic displays shield from the three regions that make up the nation: Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.  The Bohemian coat of arms consists of a white lion with two tails on a red background.  The Moravian coat of arms features a red and silver eagle on a blue background, and the flag of Silesia features a black eagle on a gold background.

The original flag of Czechoslovakia is based on the Bohemian coat of arms and was identical to the Bohemian flag. The first flag of Czechoslovakia consisted of a white horizontal band on the top and a red band on the bottom.  Since this flag was nearly identical to the flag of Poland and very similar to the Austrian flag in its choice of colors, a blue isosceles triangle was added to the left side.

During World War II, the Nazi regime banned the flag of Czechoslovakia.  The central region of Czechoslovakia—including parts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia—was named the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by Hitler and considered part of the Third Reich.  During this region’s formal existence from 1939-1945, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia flew a rectangular flag with three horizontal stripes of equal width: the top stripe was white, the middle stripe was red, and the bottom stripe was blue.

At the end of World War II, the flag of Czechoslovakia was restored. From 1990 until 1992, during the formation of the Czech and Slovak Republics, the Czechs briefly used the original red and white flag of Bohemia. Eventually, however, the Czech government decided to continue using the Czechoslovakian flag established in 1920.

Flag of Rwanda

The flag of Rwanda was adopted on October 25, 2001. The flag is rectangular with three horizontal stripes.  The top stripe is a bright but light blue and is twice as wide as the two other stripes.  Below the blue stripe is a yellow stripe, and a green stripe lines the bottom of the flag. A yellow, twenty-four rayed sun is featured in the top right corner of the flag, in the blue field.  Alphonse Kirimbenecyo, a Rwandan artist, designed his country’s current flag.

The flag’s colors and the sun have symbolic meaning for the people of Rwanda.  The large blue stripe represents happiness and peace in Rwanda.  The yellow stripe symbolizes Rwanda’s mineral resources, which contribute to the country’s economy.  The green stripe stands for Rwanda’s natural resources and also for the Rwandan people’s hopes for prosperity.  The yellow sun in the upper right corner stands for unity among the Rwandan people and also transparency and enlightenment.

Rawanda used a different flag from 1961—just prior to Rwanda gaining independence from Belgium—until the time of the current flag’s adoption.  The older version of the flag was a vertical tricolor with an “R” in the middle.  The “R” distinguishes Rwanda’s flag from Guinea’s national flag, which is a vertical tricolor with the same colors.  The color choice for the older version of the flag represents the traditional African tricolor of red, yellow and green. In the older Rwandan flag, the red stripe is on the left side; the yellow stripe is in the middle and contains the large black “R” for Rwanda; and the green stripe is on the left side.  Traditionally, the red represents the strength of the Rwandan people; the green represents peace; and the yellow stands for the Rwandan people’s hope for future development. Although this African tricolor flag was used for many years, the flag’s association with the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 during which over 800,000 people were murdered prompted creation of a new flag.

Flag of Chile

The Flag of Chile was adopted on October 18, 1817, during Chile’s battle for independence from Spain. The flag of Chile is called La Estrella Solitaria, or “The Lone Star.”  The flag is divided into two horizontal regions.  In the top portion, there is a blue square in the left corner with a white five-pointed star in the center. The remainder of the top half is occupied by a white stripe.  The bottom half of the flag consists of a red stripe.

The flag of Chile is simple in design; however, the colors and the star have symbolic meaning.  The red bottom half of the flag represents the bloodshed of Chilean revolutionaries during the quest for independence.  In the top half, the white portion represents the snow on top of the Andes Mountains and the blue represents both the sky and the Pacific Ocean.  The white star stands alone in the upper left corner as a guiding symbol towards progress and honor.

Chile flew several other flags before adopting its current version.  Chile’s first flag, used as early as the sixteenth century, featured a blue background with a white eight-pointed star.  This flag was most likely used by the Mapuche warriors, a group of indigenous Chileans, during the Arauco War.

In 1812, at the beginning of the Chilean War of Independence, the provincial Chilean government adopted its first flag, the Patria Vieja (“Old Fatherland”).  This flag consisted of three horizontal stripes, one each in blue, white, and yellow.  These colors represent the sky, the snow on the Andes Mountains, and Chile’s vast golden wheat fields.  Occasionally, this version of the flag appeared with the Cross of Santiago in the upper left corner and the Chilean shield in the center.  In 1817, during Chile’s transition towards being an independent nation, the country flew a flag that also contained three horizontal stripes, but a red stripe replaced the older yellow stripe.

Finally, in 1817, the Chilean government adopted the current version of their flag, which was designed by José Ignacio Zenteno del Pozo y Silva, a Chilean soldier that fought in the Chilean War for Independence.

Chilean Flag

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.

Chilean Andes

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.

Chilean Flag

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.