Fun Facts About Flags (2022)

Let’s talk about vex. Vexillology, that is

For something so simple, a flag can be a dangerous thing: historic, divisive, representing oppression, imperialism, and nationalism. But they can also be a symbol of pride, of independence, or of rebirth. Here we look at a bunch of flags from around the world and see what oddities we can run up the pole.

Technical details

Fun Facts About Flags (1)Colorful beach huts with Australian flag painted, Brighton Beach Melbourne — Shutterstock

Let’s get some terminology out of the way first. We’ve already mentioned vexillology: that’s the study of flags to you and me. But there are also special names for the common designs you see on flags.

The main body of a flag is called the field (or ground). There can be other elements to it, as we will see, but you’d say, for example, that the flag of Australia has a blue field, and the flag of Turkey a red one.

Fun Facts About Flags (2)The United States Capitol and the US flag in Washington DC — Shutterstock

On top of the field, you might have a canton, a design in the top-left corner: 50 stars for the US on a field of thirteen stripes, a Union Jack for New Zealand, a sun for Uruguay. You might have a cross, be it Scandinavian (Sweden, Finland), symmetric (Georgia, England), a saltire (Scotland, Jamaica), or Greek (Switzerland, confusingly).

Some flags don’t have a field color; maybe they’re divided into horizontal or vertical stripes. These stripes are known as fesses if they’re horizontal (Germany, Russia), or pales if they’re vertical (Ireland, France).

You can divide your flag in other ways. Diagonal divisions are known as bends, for example in the flags of Trinidad and Tobago or the DR Congo. Maybe you fancy adding a chevron: that’s a triangle entering from the left, as featured on the flags of the Czech Republic or the Philippines.

(Video) Fascinating Flag Facts

Fun Facts About Flags (3)Ghana flag on beach cliffs in Tema located outside Accra — Shutterstock

Perhaps you’d like your flag to feature quarters (Panama), a pall (South Africa), or a border (Grenada)?

Finally, you might want to throw something else on top. These are known as charges. They could be a badge, such as a coat of arms (Mexico), or an emblem such as a star (Ghana), a bird (Zambia), or something more modern, like Canada’s maple leaf.

So, you’ve got your flag. Let’s go further…

Back in time

Fun Facts About Flags (4)Famous old Nyhavn port in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark with Denmark flag in the foreground — Shutterstock

The oldest continuously used national flag is that of Denmark. These things are notoriously difficult to formalize, with slight changes in flags’ designs and dimensions over the centuries provoking debate as to what’s “the same design” or not, and lack of historical records muddying the waters still further.

The Guinness Book of World Records, however, recognizes the Dannebrog, or Danish cloth, as the oldest. It’s been in confirmed use since 1625, with minor variations dating back to as early as (some sources claim) 1219.

Starry eyes

Fun Facts About Flags (5)Brazil flag flying in the breeze in front of Two Brothers Mountain on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro — Shutterstock

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Many flags feature stars, but what do they mean? Well, some of them are simply actual stars. The flag of New Zealand features four stars representing the constellation of the Southern Cross, while the Australian flag also references the constellation, adding a fifth star to it as well as a larger, seven-pointed star known as the Commonwealth Star.

Brazil’s is far more complex. The arrangement of stars corresponds to nine constellations seen above Rio de Janeiro, with each of the 27 stars symbolizing a Brazilian state. It’s a lovely piece of work, with the blue circle representing the disc of the night sky and the white band the equator.

Then there are stars as symbols. China’s flag has five stars. The largest represents the Communist Party of China, while the four that surround it are for the four social classes mentioned by Mao Zedong: the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie.

Fun Facts About Flags (6)The flag of Panama hoisted on the mast — Shutterstock

The stars on the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, unusually, include two that are cut in half by the edge of the design; the number of stars is supposed to be infinite as if they’re scrolling past. Panama’s flag contains two stars, one red and one blue, said to stand for the rival political parties, while the white on which they stand is meant to represent the peace in which they operate. Other flags use a single star to represent ideas such as hope, guidance, independence, or solidarity.

Shape up!

Fun Facts About Flags (7)Swiss flag waving in front of the peaks of Monch and Jungfrau mountains, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland — Shutterstock

Most flags are rectangular, but there are a few exceptions. The flags of both Switzerland and Vatican City are perfectly square, while the flag of Nepal has five sides, in a shape known as a double pennon.

A couple more have unusual aspect ratios, such as Qatar, whose flag is over two and a half times longer than it is wide, or Togo, the flag of which has the very specific ratio of 2:3.23607, or the golden ratio.

(Video) 32 Creative World Flags Made by True Geniuses

Emblem of a nation

Fun Facts About Flags (8)South Korean flag waving in Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea — Shutterstock

You’re designing a flag. Stars are… well, they’ve been done. You need something else. An emblem for your nation. Well, there are a number of unusual examples out there.

We’ve already mentioned Canada’s famous maple leaf, featuring prominently on their flag, and a fittingly bold yet innocent design that’s rightly become a national icon.

Less innocent but no less bold is the flag of Mozambique, featuring a farming hoe crossed with an AK-47 assault rifle, backed by an open book and a yellow, five-pointed star. Agriculture, vigilance, education, and Marxism are the respective meanings here.

South Korea’s elegant flag centers around the blue and red of yin and yang, known as a Taegeuk, representing universal balance. The four trigrams that surround it symbolize the four classical elements, namely air, fire, water, and earth.

Fun Facts About Flags (9)Lebanese flag seen at the Byblos fortress in Byblos, Lebanon — Shutterstock

A couple of flags contain dragons. Bhutan has Druk, the Thunder Dragon, scaling the flag from left to right, while Wales glories in Y Ddraig Goch (The Red Dragon), a creature that occurs in a number of Welsh myths and legends and was the symbol of Cadwaladr, a king from around 655 to 682 AD, and a redeemer figure in Welsh culture.

The flag of Lebanon features a cedar tree. The Lebanese cedar is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah using it as a metaphor for the pride of the world, Moses ordering it to be used in the treatment of leprosy, and Solomon using cedar timber to build the Temple in Jerusalem.

(Video) 20 Interesting Facts about Flags | Fun Facts about Flags

Regional pride

Fun Facts About Flags (10)Flag of Sicily waving in the wind — Shutterstock

Of course, there are hundreds — thousands, millions? — of other flags around the world: those of regions, cities, territories, islands, even places as-yet officially unrecognized. So what of those?

Two islands — the Isle of Man, and Sicily — share an element of their flag which is unusual, and it’s called a triskelion. Three bent human legs emerging from a central point, the design was first used on Sicilian coins as early as 382 BC, becoming associated with the Isle of Man later when it became the coat of arms of the Manx kings in the early 14th century.

The flag of the city of Antwerp in Belgium is like a chessboard with a migraine, consisting of 24 squares in four rows and six columns and, starting with white squares in the top-right and bottom-left corners, is made up of diagonal runs of blue, yellow, red, and white squares respectively.

Fun Facts About Flags (11)California and US flags flying in blue sky — Shutterstock

US state and territory flags are often curiosities. Guam’s just looks like a cheap t-shirt; a palm tree, beach, and yacht with the word GUAM picked out in red. California, famously, features a bear. Colorado’s looks like the badge of a mid-ranking Central American soccer team. The flag of Oregon has a different image on either side. And Maryland? Just… wow. What on earth was going on there?

Khoroshevo-Mnevniki, a district in north-west Moscow, has a flag featuring a bizarre cartoon beaver that resembles what you might draw if the only thing you knew about what a beaver looked like was the teeth, and even then you weren’t much of an artist. Seriously, Google it. Meet me back here. Drnis, in Croatia, has a chap (St. Roch, or so it says here) showing his wounded leg to a dog. A dog with a mouth full of bread. West Bothnia in Sweden is just a tacky Christmas sweater. Find yourself a list of Russian regional flags to see a merlion, a ladder, a stoned cow wearing a crown, some sort of Lego brick, and a bear splitting an atom.

All in all, if someone, somewhere, has had an idea, you can pretty much assume it’s turned up on a flag.

(Video) 10 Fantastic Facts About Flags of the World

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FAQs

What are some cool facts about the flag? ›

10 Fascinating Facts About the American Flag
  • There have been 27 versions of the American Flag. ...
  • The flag can be displayed for all 24 hours. ...
  • The colors were chosen carefully. ...
  • The current design wasn't professionally made. ...
  • The current flag is the only one to have lasted more than 50 years.

What is the most famous flag? ›

Voted number one by multiple sources, the USA flag is the most famous flag of the world. Not only is it waved around and celebrated proudly by US citizens. It has a meaning behind every detail.

What makes a flag special? ›

Flags show that we belong to a community, organisation or nation and that we share the same beliefs and goals and follow the same set of rules and regulations. Flags are national symbols. Every country flies a specific flag as their national symbol.

How many flags exist in the world? ›

There are 254 different flags in the world, covering all countries and dependent territories (including the United Kingdom and Kosovo). If that's too many for you, the flags of the U.N.

What color has never been on a flag? ›

There are 196 countries in the world today and virtually none of them have purple on their national flag. So what's wrong with purple? After Skool explains how the color was worth more than gold.

Which is the world's hardest flag? ›

The five traditional carpet designs along the hoist make the flag of Turkmenistan the most complex national flag design in the world. They represent the five major tribes or houses, and form motifs in the country's state emblem and flag.

What is world's oldest flag? ›

The country with the oldest flag in the world is that of Denmark. The Danish flag, called the Danneborg, dates back to 13th century A.D. It is believed to have been in existence since June 15, 1219 though it was officially recognised as the national flag in 1625.

Which is the cutest flag in the world? ›

What country is the most beautiful flag? Greece has the most beautiful. It comprises two dominant colours, blue and white. The blue represents the country's beautiful skies and the sea, while white represents the purity in the country's struggle for independence.

What is this country 🏴? ›

While officially called United Kingdom, the emoji commonly goes by Union Jack, UK flag, (flag for) Great Britain, or British flag.

What is the rarest color in flags? ›

So, what is the rarest color used in flags? The answer is — purple! The color of the kings, the color of wealth and royalty, was by far the most unpopular choice for making flags, even if the nation was extremely wealthy. Let's check the story behind the rarest flag color in the world.

Who made the first flag? ›

On May 29, 1777, Betsy Ross was paid a large sum of money from the Pennsylvania State Navy Board for making flags, and on June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as our official national flag. Betsy would continue to make flags for over 50 years, many of which were through government contracts.

What flag is only one color? ›

In 1977 Libya broke free of the merger and became the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. A plain green flag, the only plain coloured flag in the world, was chosen to represent Gaddafi's political philosophy. When Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011 the United Nations chose the original flag of Libya as the national flag.

What is the world's weirdest flag? ›

The flag of Nepal is the only national flag in the world that is not rectangular. The flag is a simplified combination of two single pennants. Its crimson red is the colour of the rhododendron, the country's national flower. Red is also the sign of victory in war.

Is there a 52 star flag? ›

This flag is fictitious or proposed but not adopted. It may be named as it would be as an official flag of a geographical or other entity and have some visual elements that are similar to official logos or flags of that entity, but it is not official and doesn't have any official recognition.

Why is no flag pink? ›

Originally Answered: Why so few national flags use pink in their design? One problem with pink in flags is that red colored fabric in sunlight fades to pink, so the pink-colored flag will from the start look like a faded red flag.

What flag has no white in it? ›

The design was modified to the now familiar black, green, and gold. Jamaica's is one of only two current national flags that do not include the colours blue, white, or red (the other is Mauritania's).

Why is no flag purple? ›

Professor Q explains to his class why purple was omitted on country flags. The real reason was that for thousands of years purple dye was far too expensive. It was possible the most expensive product available being worth more than gold, jewels, castles, ships, silk, spices, and silver.

What is the simplest flag ever? ›

The country of Ukraine, located in eastern Europe, has one of the simplest flags. Two equal-sized fields of blue and yellow run horizontally on the flag.

Which country has the weirdest flag? ›

nonrectangular national flag consisting of two united pennant (triangular flag) shapes. Nepal is the only country in the modern world that does not have a rectangular national flag. It is crimson with blue borders and incorporates stylized symbols of the sun and moon.

What is the youngest flag in the world? ›

Below is an overview of some of the world's youngest flags.
...
The Newest Flags in the World.
RankFlagDate of Adoption
1MauritaniaAugust 15, 2017
2MalawiMay 28, 2012
3South SudanJuly 9, 2011
4LibyaFebruary 17, 2011
6 more rows
11 May 2018

What is the 2nd oldest flag? ›

The Oldest Flags in the World
RankFlagDate of Adoption
1Denmark1370
2Scotland1542
3Netherlands1572
4Nepal1743
6 more rows
25 Jan 2019

What color is most common on flags? ›

Red, white and blue is the most popular color combo.

The U.S. colors aren't that unique — a plurality of the world's flags are red, white and blue. Pan-African and Pan-Arabic color combinations are in fourth and fifth place.

Does any flag have pink? ›

The pink, white and green tricolour flag, or PWG, can be seen all around Newfoundland and Labrador.

Do any flags have purple? ›

We can also see this color in the flags of Dominica and Nicaragua, which were designed after 1900. These are the only two countries in the world to use purple on their flags.

Which country flag is this 🇱 🇷? ›

🇱🇷 Flag: Liberia

The flag for Liberia, which may show as the letters LR on some platforms. The Flag: Liberia emoji is a flag sequence combining 🇱 Regional Indicator Symbol Letter L and 🇷 Regional Indicator Symbol Letter R. These display as a single emoji on supported platforms.

What country flag is this 🇲 🇽? ›

🇲🇽 Flag: Mexico

The flag for Mexico, which may show as the letters MX on some platforms. The Flag: Mexico emoji is a flag sequence combining 🇲 Regional Indicator Symbol Letter M and 🇽 Regional Indicator Symbol Letter X. These display as a single emoji on supported platforms.

What is this 🇹 🇷 country name? ›

🇹🇷 Flag: Turkey

The flag for Turkey, which may show as the letters TR on some platforms. The Flag: Turkey emoji is a flag sequence combining 🇹 Regional Indicator Symbol Letter T and 🇷 Regional Indicator Symbol Letter R.

What do the 7 red stripes on the flag mean? ›

The stripes represent the original 13 Colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union.

Why does the flag have 13 stripes? ›

There are 50 stars representing the 50 states and there are 13 stripes representing the 13 original colonies.

Who flew the first flag? ›

General George Washington first raised the Continental Army flag in 1776, a red-and- white striped flag with the British Union Jack where we now have stars. Several flag designs with 13 stripes were used in 1776 and 1777, until Congress established an official design on June 14, 1777 — now observed as Flag Day.

What flag has no 4 sides? ›

The national flag of Nepal is the world's only national flag that is non-quadrilateral in shape. The flag is a simplified combination of two single pennons, the vexillological word for a pennant. Its crimson red is the color of the rhododendron, the country's national flower. Red is also the sign of victory in war.

Are any 2 flags the same? ›

Chad and Romania

None of the world's national flags are as closely matched to each other as these two. Their design and size are almost identical, and only a close examination reveals slight shade differences between the blue, yellow, and red vertical stripes.

What colour is found on 75% of the world's flags? ›

The colour red can be found on 75% of the world's flags. There are 195 countries in the world, which means there are 195 different flags to see. Of course, other countries with similar flag designs include Monaco and Indonesia.

What flag has 13 stars in a circle? ›

The flag we now call the Betsy Ross flag has a circle of 13 five-point stars in a blue patch on the top left corner. Thirteen alternating red-and-white stripes cut horizontally through the rest of the cloth. The Continental Congress called for such a flag on June 14, 1777.

Is a 49 star flag rare? ›

49 Star flags are less common since they were produced for only a year, but they were still manufactured in large quantities.

What U.S. flag has 15 stars? ›

The 3x5' 15-Star United States Flag is known as the Fort McHenry Flag and inspired the 1814 penning of the United States National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, as we know it today.

What is the shortest flag in the world? ›

The flag is the national flag of Canada, and its colour was created by oxidising a bare silicon wafer in a tube furnace in order to grow a layer of Silicon dioxide of a carefully chosen thickness. Thin film interference effects in the silicon dioxide layer gives the flag a red colour.

Who made the flag first? ›

On May 29, 1777, Betsy Ross was paid a large sum of money from the Pennsylvania State Navy Board for making flags, and on June 14, 1777, Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as our official national flag.

What is the rarest flag color? ›

So, what is the rarest color used in flags? The answer is — purple! The color of the kings, the color of wealth and royalty, was by far the most unpopular choice for making flags, even if the nation was extremely wealthy. Let's check the story behind the rarest flag color in the world.

What is the oldest flag in the world? ›

The oldest, continuously used national flag is that of Denmark. The current design of a white Scandinavian cross on a red back ground was adopted in 1625 and its square shape in 1748. In Denmark it is known as the 'Dannebrog' or 'Danish cloth'.

Which flag lasts the longest? ›

Poly flags are the most durable outdoor flag in most conditions. But durability comes at a cost. Poly flags are also the most expensive.

What flag won the most beautiful? ›

There are more than 230 countries in the vote for the most beautiful flag, and the flag of Serbia is currently number one.

What flag is the youngest? ›

Below is an overview of some of the world's youngest flags.
...
The Newest Flags in the World.
RankFlagDate of Adoption
1MauritaniaAugust 15, 2017
2MalawiMay 28, 2012
3South SudanJuly 9, 2011
4LibyaFebruary 17, 2011
6 more rows
11 May 2018

What flag has just one star? ›

The flag of Liberia or the Liberian flag, sometimes called the Lone Star, bears a close resemblance to the flag of the United States, representing Liberia's founding by former black slaves from the United States and the Caribbean.

What was the first flag called? ›

At the time of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, the Continental Congress would not legally adopt flags with "stars, white in a blue field" for another year. The "Grand Union Flag", has historically been referred to as the first national flag of the United States.

Why are there 13 stripes on the US flag? ›

How many stars and stripes are on the flag? There are 50 stars representing the 50 states and there are 13 stripes representing the 13 original colonies. from The CIA World Factbook.

What flag has a circle of stars? ›

The European flag symbolises both the European Union and, more broadly, the identity and unity of Europe. It features a circle of 12 gold stars on a blue background. They stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe.

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