Originating on battlefields as a means of identification, national flags have come a long way since their bloody conception. Flying in courthouses, classrooms, and fire stations they typically hold symbolic significance for the nation and have complex meanings ingrained into their designs. So go ahead and test yourself on your flag knowledge because these are 25 national flags and their meanings.
Combining the crosses of the patron saints of England, Wales, and Scotland, the Union Jack as it is sometimes called is one of the oldest flags in the world having been around since 1801.
There is a lot of dispute as to actual meaning of Aruba’s flag. Some say that the four pointed star represents the four main languages of the island, Papiamento, Spanish, English, and Dutch. The light blue is generally said to represent the sea and sky and the meaning of the yellow stripes has been up for debate with some theories proposing it has to do with Aruba’s gold industry while others claim the yellow stands for freedom or abundance.
As the first African country to receive its independence, Ethiopia is often credited with the establishing green, yellow, and red (sometimes called the Pan African colors) that now symbolize African independence and unity.
It’s not hard to see that Malaysia has a history with England. The blue square in the upper left originally signified that connection. The 14 stripes represent the 13 member states and the federal district of Kuala Lumpur.
Also known as the “Maple Leaf Flag”, the maple leaf wasn’t actually added until many years later when Prime Minister Lester Pearson petitioned to have it included as during World War I he noticed many battalions including a maple leaf on their insignia.
Although the country has changed its name twice, the flag has remained the same. The blue symbolized peace and endurance, the red courage, and the white honor. The cogwheel and ears of rice represent the country’s agricultural industry and its workers.
Sometimes referred to as the “Stars and Stripes”, or “Old Glory” the American flag features 13 stripes representing the original colonies and 50 stars representing the states in the union.
While the Greek flag has stayed largely the same, the shade of blue has changed numerous times since the Greek Revolutionary War against the Ottoman Turks.
Antigua and Barbuda
As one of the more unique country flags, this one was designed by a high school art teacher. The sun signifies the dawning of a new era after gaining its independence, the red represents the energy of the people, and the blue signifies hope.
Carrying on what Ethiopia started, Ghana’s flag features the Pan African colors of red, yellow, and green. It takes things a step further, however, with the color black that is now often included in African flags to symbolize the people and their freedom.
The Australian flag features a Union Jack (it was mandatory at the time for all British Colonies), a seven pointed star representing each of Australia’s six states as well as one point for its territories, and a series of stars representing the Southern Cross constellation which is visible from everywhere in Australia.
The red represents the blood spilled as the country fought for its independence while the 5 points of the yellow star represent the union of workers, soldiers, peasants, young people, and intellectuals working together to build socialism.
The yellow stripe represents the sandy beaches of the 700 Bahamian islands, the blue represents the water, and the black triangle represents the Bahamian people along with their desire to develop the land and the sea.
Chad and Romania
Although the two countries are on completely different continents and have had almost nothing to do with each other, their flags are exactly the same.
The flag of India is sometimes called the “tiranga” which means “tricolor” in Hindi. When it was introduced in 1931 the stripes represented the two main groups in India. The green was the Muslims and the orange was the Hindus. The white stripe represented the desire for their to be peace between them. The meanings, however, have been updated since then. The wheel in the middle has 24 spokes, each one supposedly representing one hour of the day.