Are you a geography whiz? See if you can match the countries associated with these flags!
The French flag, with its three bands of blue, white, and red known as “Le drapeau tricolore” (French Tricolor), dates back to the French Revolution. The “ancient French color” of white was combined with the colors of the Parisian militia.
Called Taegukki, the Korean flag consists of four sets of black bars—trigrams from the I Ching denoting the four universal elements which together express the principle of movement and harmony—surrounding a yin-yang symbol in the center. White is a traditional color in Korea which represents peace and purity; the blue part of the yin-yang represents the negative cosmic forces of the yin, while the red symbolizes the opposite positive forces of the yang.
The white cross on this flag is attributed to several medieval legends; what is certain is that it has been used as identification for troops of the Swiss Confederation since the Battle of Laupen in 1339.
Adopted: 1815-1856; 1919-1932; 1949-present
The black, red, and gold colors have played an important role in German history and can be traced back to the medieval banner of the Holy Roman Emperor—a black eagle with red claws and beak on a gold field.
Nepal is the only country in the world whose flag is not a rectangle or square. The two triangles originally represented the Himalaya Mountains, but today are meant to denote the country’s two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. The moon in the upper triangle represents the shade and cool weather of the North, while the sun in the lower triangle symbolizes the heat of the lower parts of Nepal. These two symbols are also said to express the hope that Nepal will endure as long as the sun and moon. The red background represents the rhododendron, Nepal’s national flower, and is a sign of victory and bravery; the blue represents peace and harmony.
British Virgin Islands
The large, seven-pointed star that sits below the UK Union Jack is known as the Commonwealth or Federation Star which represents the federation of the colonies of Australia in 1901. The points on the star are for each of the six original states plus one for all of Australia’s internal and external territories. The remaining stars are the Southern Cross constellation, consisting of one small five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars.
Although the flag was not adopted until 1982, the design is that of Gibraltar’s coat of arms granted in 1502 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The castle does not depict any one castle, but is meant to represent Gibraltar as a fortress; the key represents Gibraltar’s strategic importance—the key to the Mediterranean.
Although the three bands of green, white, and red have been in use since 1797 (the design was inspired by the French flag brought to Italy by Napoleon), this design has only been around since 1945. The red and white are the colors of Milan, and the green represents the uniform color of the Milanese civic guard.
Adopted: 13th century
Denmark’s flag, called the Dannenbrog, is the oldest national flag in existence, dating from the 13th century. There are many legends as to how it came about, but the best known is that the banner with this design fell from the sky during an early-13th century battle and was caught by the Danish king before it ever touched the earth. The heavenly talisman inspired the royal army to victory. In truth, the flag was most likely derived from a crusade banner.
The five strips of color on the flag of Seychelles are meant to represent a dynamic new country moving into the future. The blue is for the sky and sea; yellow is the sun giving light and life; red represents working for the future in unity and love; white is for social justice and harmony; and green the land and natural environment.
The flag, officially known as Nisshōki, is more commonly called Hinomoru, meaning “sun disk,” as the red circle is meant to depict the sun. The sun has been used on Japanese flags since 701, when Emperor Mommu used it on his court flag.
The green of the Jamaican flag represents hope, vegetation, and agriculture; the black reflects hardships that have been overcome and that are to be faced; and the yellow represents sunshine and the island’s natural sources. The flag was adopted when the country earned its independence from the Federation of the West Indies.
Adopted: 1881-1942; 1945-present
The red and white colors of Monaco’s flag are the heraldic colors of the ruling House of Grimaldi, and have been in use on the flag since 1339. The current design was adopted by Prince Charles III in 1881. This flag is often confused with the flag of Poland, which has the same colors but are flipped.
Although the Shahada (Muslim creed) in large white Arabic script first appeared on the Saudi flag in 1932, this design was not approved until 1973. The creed translates as “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” The design is associated with the Al Saud family which established the kingdom in 1932. Green is the traditional color of Islam.
The yellow strip in the middle is meant to represent the golden beaches off the Bahamas, surrounded by the sea (the aquamarine bars). The black is meant to represent the vigor and force of a united people; the triangle symbolizes the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to use the rich resources of their country.
The Liberian flag was actually based on the U.S. flag and is meant to reflect the ex-American slave origins of the country. The eleven stripes of red and white symbolize the signatories of the Liberian Declaration of Independence, the blue field represents the African mainland, and the five-pointed star represents the freedom granted to the ex-slaves. The colors have symbolic importance as well: blue signifies liberty, justice, and fidelity; white signifies purity, cleanliness, and guilelessness; and red signifies steadfastness, valor, and fervor.