Wednesday, May 30, 2007

National flags

One of the most popular uses of a flag is to symbolize a nation or country. Some national flags have been particularly inspirational to other nations, countries, or subnational entities in the design of their own flags. Some prominent examples include:

The flag of Denmark is the oldest state flag still in use. This flag, called the Dannebrog, inspired the cross design of the other Nordic countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Ă…land, and Scania.

The Union Flag (Union Jack) of the United Kingdom. British colonies typically flew a flag based on one of the ensigns based on this flag, and many former colonies have retained the design to acknowledge their cultural history. Examples: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tuvalu, and also the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, and the American state of Hawaii:

The Tricolor of The Netherlands is the oldest tricolour, first appearing in 1572 as the Prince's Flag in orange–white–blue. Soon the more famous red–white–blue began appearing — it is however unknown why, though many stories are known. After 1630 the red–white–blue was the most commonly seen flag. The Dutch Tricolor has inspired many flags but most notably those of Russia, India and France, which spread the tricolor concept even further, as can be seen below. The Flag of the Netherlands is also the only flag in the world that is adapted for some uses, when the occasion has a connection to the royal house of the Netherlands an orange ribbon is added.

The national flag of France, also called the Tricolore, which inspired other nations to adopt differenced tricolours in sympathy with the revolutionary spirit with which the flag was designed in 1794. Examples among many: Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Mexico.

The flag of the United States, also nicknamed The Stars and Stripes or Old Glory. In the same way that nations looked to France for inspiration, many countries were also inspired by the American Revolution, which they felt was symbolized in this flag. Examples: Cuba, Liberia, Chile, Uruguay, and the French region of Brittany.

The flag of Russia the source for the Pan-Slavic colors adopted by many Slavic states and peoples as their symbols. Examples: Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia.

Ethiopia was seen as a model by emerging African states of the 1950s and 1960s, as it was one of the oldest independent states in Africa. Accordingly, its flag became the source of the Pan-African colours. Examples: Togo, Senegal, Ghana, Mali.

The flag of Turkey, which was the flag of the Ottoman Empire, has been an inspiration for the flag designs of many other Muslim nations. During the time of the Ottomans the crescent began to be associated with Islam and this is reflected on the flags of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, and of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The Pan-Arab colors, green, white, red and black, seen on the flags of Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Yemen and on the Palestinian flag.
The Soviet flag, with its golden symbols of the Hammer and Sickle on a red field, was an inspiration to flags of other communist states, such as East Germany, People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan and Mozambique.

The flag of Venezuela, created by Francisco de Miranda to represent the independence movement in Venezuela that later gave birth to the "Gran Colombia", inspired the individual flags of Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, all sharing three bands of color and three of them (Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela) sharing the yellow, blue and red.

The flag of Argentina, created by Manuel Belgrano during the war of independence, was the inspiration for the United Provinces of Central America's flag, which in turn was the origin for the flags of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

History of Flags

Although flag-like symbols were used in some ancient cultures, the origin of flags in the modern sense is a matter of dispute. Some believe flags originated in China, while others hold that the Roman Empire's vexillum was the first true flag. Originally, the standards of the Roman legions were not flags, but symbols like the eagle of Augustus Caesar's Xth legion; this eagle would be placed on a staff for the standard-bearer to hold up during battle. But a military unit from Scythia had for a standard a dragon with a flexible tail which would move in the wind; the legions copied this; eventually all the legions had flexible standards — our modern-day flag.
During the Middle Ages, flags were used mainly during battles to identify individual leaders: in Europe the knights, in Japan the samurai, and in China the generals under the imperial army.

From the time of Christopher Columbus onwards, it has been customary (and later a legal requirement) for ships to carry flags designating their nationality;[verification needed] these flags eventually evolved into the national flags and maritime flags of today.[verification needed] Flags also became the preferred means of communications at sea, resulting in various systems of flag signals; see International maritime signal flags.

As European knights were replaced by centralized armies, flags became the means to identify not just nationalities but also individual military units. Flags became much more elaborate,[verification needed] and were seen as objects to be captured or defended. Eventually these flags posed too much danger to those carrying them, and by World War I these were withdrawn from the battlefields, and have since been used only at ceremonial occasions.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

War flags

Several countries (including the United Kingdom and the former Nazi Germany) have unique flags flown by their armed forces, rather than the national flag.

Other countries' armed forces (such as those of the United States or Switzerland) use their standard national flag. The Philippines' armed forces may use their standard national flag, but during times of war the flag is turned upside down. These are also considered war flags, though the terminology only applies to the flag's military usage.
Large versions of the war flag flown on the warships of countries' navies are known as battle ensigns. In war waving a white flag indicates surrender.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


A flag is a piece of woven cloth, often flown from a pole or mast, generally used symbolically for signalling or identification. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed by a flag, or to its depiction in another medium.

The first flags were used to assist military coordination on battlefields and flags have evolved into a general tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in environments where communication is similarly challenging (such as the maritime environment where semaphore is used). National flags are potent patriotic symbols with varied wide-ranging interpretations, often including strong military associations due to their original and ongoing military uses. Flags are used in messaging, advertising, or for other decorative purposes, though at this less formal end the distinction between a flag and a simple cloth banner is blurred. The study of flags is known as vexillology, from the Latin vexillum meaning flag or banner.