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Archive for April, 2014

Lists can bring focus, meaning, and order to the chaos of life (well, that’s what they say HERE), so here’s some life focus for you with a magical tour of the world’s flags. Something you probably never knew how much you needed.

For those who like to explore the world by doing little more than moving your finger across your phone or tablet screen, free/cheap apps like ‘Flags and Capitals‘ can help your venturing. The obsessive-vulnerable types might find themselves accidentally learning many of the flags of the world relatively quickly.

This definitive flag category list will help your enlightenment in this compelling topic. Generally these are country flags — sometimes from very small or possibly uninhabited countries — with a few exceptions (like a Canadian territory or province) thrown in here and there.

Like a good comic book, this is mostly pictures with a few words to keep the story rolling. Some flags show up in multiple categories, and there is a category for everyone in here so go find some that work for you. Over 90% (at least 220) of the world’s flags made it into one of these categories; fewer than twenty failed to make any list. Browse through for your favorites. The quirkier categories tend to show up near the end.

Click / Tap on any flag for a larger view.
By the way, most flags use a 2:3 (Height:Width) aspect ratio, several use 1:2, there are a few other variations.* You can spot most of those if you look carefully; the flags are all shown with the same width here (so the displayed height varies).

Two Color Flags (with just two stripes)
Let’s keep it simple to start — the basic two-color that’s all rectangles.

Ukraine

Ukraine

Poland

Poland

Monaco

Monaco

Indonesia

Indonesia

Two Color Flags (with more than just two stripes)
There are quite a number of other countries who like to keep low color inventories for their flags, sticking to just two (often including white).

Albania

Albania

Austria

Austria

Bahrain

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Canada

Canada

China

China

Denmark

Denmark

Federated States of Micronesia

Federated States of Micronesia

Finland

Finland

Georgia

Georgia

Greece

Greece

Greenland

Greenland

Honduras

Honduras

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Israel

Israel

Japan

Japan

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

Latvia

Latvia

Macedonia

Macedonia

Mauritania

Mauritania

Morocco

Morocco

Nigeria

Nigeria

Pakistan

Pakistan

Palau

Palau

Peru

Peru

Qatar

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Scotland

Scotland

Singapore

Singapore

Somalia

Somalia

Sweden

Sweden

Tonga

Tonga

Tunisia

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkey

Vietnam

Vietnam

Switzerland

Switzerland

Three Equal-Sized Horizontal Stripe Flags
Several flags use this scheme; a number of other countries use the 3-stripe as a base and add detail (like a coat of arms), usually in the middle.

Armenia

Armenia

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Estonia

Estonia

Gabon

Gabon

Germany

Germany

Hungary

Hungary

Lithuania

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Netherlands

Netherlands

Russia

Russia

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Yemen

Yemen

Three Vertical Stripe Flags
Note that several countries / islands use the French tri-color flag, as discussed later.

Belgium

Belgium

Chad

Chad

Cote d'Ivorie (Ivory Coast)

Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast)

France

France

Guinea

Guinea

Ireland

Ireland

Italy

Italy

Mali

Mali

Romania

Romania

Four Equal-Sized Horizontal Stripe Flags
Just one entry, and this ends the horizontal / vertical stripe lists. United Arab Emirates has four stripes but one is vertical; Central African Republic has four horizontal stripes but also a vertical stripe and a star.

Mauitius

Mauitius

Sub-Saharan Africa’s Love for the Yellow / Green / Red color scheme
Note how this group of 11 neighboring countries in Africa use a similar set of red/green/yellow (and occasionally a little black or white) colors. There must have been a regional price special on these colors at flag-creating time.

Sub-Saharan 'Bulge' of Africa

Sub-Saharan ‘Bulge’ of Africa

Benin

Benin

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Cameroon

Cameroon

Congo

Congo

Ghana

Ghana

Guinea

Guinea

Guinea Bissau

Guinea Bissau

Mali

Mali

Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome & Principe

Senegal

Senegal

Togo

Togo

Wandering a little further from this group of counties brings some color variation in other African countries.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia

Madagascar

Madagascar

Identical Twin Flags

Monaco (1881) and Indonesia (1945) have both staked out the creatively designed red-and-white flag. Similarly, both Chad and Romania went for the blue-yellow-red approach (although the blues are slightly different tones). Curiously, In 2007 Romania sent a small number of troops as part of an EU peace-keeping force to Chad; the flag similarity could lead to some interesting troop confusion. Chad adopted its flag in 1959, and Romania about 100 years before that although the Romanian one went through variations over time and had a coat of arms when Chad adopted theirs.

Monaco

Monaco

Indonesia

Indonesia

Chad

Chad

Romania

Romania

Non-Identical Twin Flags Separated at Birth
…but in some cases they still live right next door.

Tunisia

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkey

Taiwan

Taiwan

Samoa

Samoa

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

Netherlands

Netherlands

South Africa

South Africa

Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Slovenia

Slovenia

Slovakia

Slovakia

Qatar

Qatar

Bahrain

Bahrain

Niger

Niger

India

India

Cote d'Ivorie (Ivory Coast)

Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast)

Ireland

Ireland

Nicaragua

Nicaragua

El Salvador

El Salvador

Austrailia

Austrailia

New Zealand

New Zealand

Kenya

Kenya

Swaziland

Swaziland

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein

Haiti

Haiti

Gambia

Gambia

Namibia

Namibia

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Thailand

Thailand

Federated States of Micronesia

Federated States of Micronesia

Somalia

Somalia

Andorra

Andorra

Moldova

Moldova

Italy

Italy

Mexico

Mexico

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Tokelau

Tokelau

British Indian Ocean Territory

British Indian Ocean Territory

British Columbia

British Columbia

Three-sibling Flags who stayed on the same continent
Like the African nations and their green-yellow-red theme, these South American neighbors went for yellow-blue-red.

Columbia

Columbia

Ecuador

Ecuador

Venezuela

Venezuela

Four-sibling Flags who see things as black and white (and green and red)

Jordan

Jordan

Palestine

Palestine

Sudan

Sudan

Western Sahara

Western Sahara

Flags That Make Americans Think The Country is Related to America

Red, White, Blue, maybe some stripes and at least one star? Seems like an American wannabe to the Americans. Cuba’s blue stripes just don’t seem to fit. The US Virgin Islands don’t have the right color scheme, but it speaks Americanese. The Antilles group in the Caribbean may have dissolved a few years ago, but we’ll take it. Costa Rica and Thailand lack a star to get into the group.

Netherland Antilles  (Dissolved in 2010)

Netherland Antilles
(Dissolved in 2010)

Chile

Chile

Liberia

Liberia

Malaysia

Malaysia

Panama

Panama

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

United States

United States

Thinking outside the box

Only Nepal manages to sport a non-rectangular flag with this double-triangular shape. Good for them; future flags should consider entering this category. It’s also the only flag that’s taller than it is wide; the Swiss and Vatican City flags are square. The official Belgium flag is almost as tall as it is wide (13:15 ratio), but often uses the more common 2:3 ratio.

Nepal

Nepal

Horizontal / Vertical Stripe Close Cousins

Austria

Austria

Peru

Peru

Germany

Germany

Belgium

Belgium

France

France

Netherlands

Netherlands

Italy

Italy

Hungary

Hungary

Flags featuring Trees

Belize

Belize

Bolivia

Bolivia

British Indian Ocean Territory

British Indian Ocean Territory

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

Fiji

Fiji

Guam

Guam

Haiti

Haiti

Lebanon

Lebanon

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island

Flags with a Prominent (but mostly plain) Circle
This one involved some judgment calls; several flags have circle features that didn’t make the cut: Burundi, Cook Islands, Ethiopia, S. Korea, Niger, Portugal. Brazil might be a little too gaudy for this group, but it was selected.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Brazil

Brazil

Greenland

Greenland

Japan

Japan

Laos

Laos

Palau

Palau

Flags that Appear to Contain a Soccer Ball in Front of the Sun
… which would be hard to see.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

Flags that look like they were selected from a contest involving children

This one includes the Canadian territory of Nunavut, which the selection committee couldn’t resist.

Kiribati

Kiribati

Macedonia

Macedonia

Nunavut

Nunavut

Flags Featuring Geography
This list is fairly short and includes an unofficial flag, for a continent.

Antarctica

Antarctica

Cyprus

Cyprus

Kosovo

Kosovo

Flags with a Triangle on the Left (Flagpole) Side
This group does not include flags with an ‘X’ that make triangles on both sides, like Jamaica, Scotland, Burundi, or the dual-triangular Nepal. The American Samoa flag has a triangle from the right side.

Bahamas

Bahamas

Comoros

Comoros

Cuba

Cuba

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Djibouti

Djibouti

Timor Leste (East Timor)

Timor Leste (East Timor)

Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

Eritrea

Eritrea

Guyana

Guyana

Jordan

Jordan

Mozambique

Mozambique

Palestine

Palestine

Philippines

Philippines

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome & Principe

South Africa

South Africa

South Sudan

South Sudan

Sudan

Sudan

Vanuatu

Vanuatu

Western Sahara

Western Sahara

Let’s Face It This is Just a Cool Flag

Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Flags That Have More Meaning if You Happen to Read Arabic

Brunei

Brunei

Iraq

Iraq

Iran

Iran

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Flags Featuring a Cross of Some Type
The UK-related flags (see that group listing) are all represented here by the UK flag, with its multiple superimposed crosses (in that group, the Fiji and Montserrat flags contain an additional separate cross). Some Islands use the Norway flag, namely Bouvet Island and the Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands. Among these, the smallest cross is in the beak of the Moldova eagle, and the Vatican City crosses may also be a bit hard to spot from a distance. (Serbia’s includes a small cross atop the crown.)

Åland Islands

Åland Islands

Denmark

Denmark

Dominica

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

England

England

Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands

Finland

Finland

Georgia

Georgia

Greece

Greece

Iceland

Iceland

Malta

Malta

Moldova

Moldova

Norway

Norway

Serbia

Serbia

Slovakia

Slovakia

Sweden

Sweden

Tonga

Tonga

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Switzerland

Switzerland

Vatican City

Vatican City

Flags That Advertise That You Should Go There For Vacation

Belize

Belize

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Fiji

Fiji

French Polynesia

French Polynesia

Guam

Guam

Flags That Make You Think You Might Not Want To Go There For Vacation Because They Show Weapons

Angola

Angola

Barbados

Barbados

Guatemala

Guatemala

Kenya

Kenya

Mozambique

Mozambique

Oman

Oman

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Swaziland

Swaziland

Flags that look inviting for vacation but also show weapons
The Ecuador flag sends mixed messages, if you look closely at the coat of arms. Vacation with a touch of caution.

Ecuador

Ecuador

Flags That Show Impact of French Imperialism
The following places use the French flag: French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia (one of two official flags), Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Reunion, and Wallis and Futuna Islands (which has an unofficial flag that tucks the French tri-color into the upper left corner). French Polynesia has the name but the flag doesn’t look particularly French. The French Southern Territories, or French Southern and Antarctic Lands, hosts a non-permanent population of maybe 100 people and has the flag shown.

France

France and others

French Southern Territories

French Southern Territories

Saint Pierre and Miquelon has an unofficial flag that’s much more lively.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Flags That Show Impact of British Imperialism
The British ruled the seas, as this set of island(-ish) countries demonstrates. They also weren’t afraid (or ashamed) to wander around and lay claim to even the Heard and McDonald Islands, which are uninhabited and are ‘among the most remote places on earth.’

Anguilla

Anguilla

Australia

Australia

Bermuda

Bermuda

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands

British Columbia

British Columbia

British Indian Ocean Territory

British Indian Ocean Territory

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Cook Islands

Cook Islands

Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands

Fiji

Fiji

Heard and Mcdonald Islands

Heard and Mcdonald Islands

Montserrat

Montserrat

New Zealand

New Zealand

Niue

Niue

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Pitcairn Islands

Pitcairn Islands

Saint Helena

Saint Helena

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

Tuvalu

Tuvalu

Flags with an Up-to-the-Right Diagonal

This category is for flags with a single diagonal, which may contain an outline. Among these, note that the two Congo flags are not centered on the corners like the others are.

Congo

Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo

Namibia

Namibia

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Tanzania

Tanzania

Flags with a Down-to-the-Right Diagonal

Christmas Island

Christmas Island

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago

Flags with at Least 5 Prominent Colors (not counting detail work)
This category requires some careful judgment, since there are several flags with 5 or more colors. The criteria is 5 sizable bands or splotches of different colors. Should South Africa, with its 4 major color and two thin-lined colors, be in this category? Should South Sudan be out? It takes years of training to make those calls.

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Central African Republic

Central African Republic

Comoros

Comoros

Seychelles

Seychelles

South Sudan

South Sudan

Flags With Stars
There are about 80 flags containing stars (not counting flags with a sun), so we’re limiting this list to a few specialties. There are about three-dozen flags in each of the categories of single stars and many stars. So here are more exclusive choices:

Flags with 2 Stars

Panama

Panama

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome & Principe

Syria

Syria

Flags with 3 Stars

Burundi

Burundi

Slovenia

Slovenia

Flags with a Circle of Stars
The non-nation EU flag snuck into this group.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Cook Islands

Cook Islands

Dominica

Dominica

European Union

European Union

Flags with a Sun
This doesn’t include simple circles; it has be be more pointy since we all know the sun is pointy. Marshall Islands is left out because some think that sun-like thing is something else (see below, near “Bomb”).

Antigua  and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Argentina

Argentina

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Kiribati

Kiribati

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

Macedonia

Macedonia

Malawi

Malawi

Malaysia

Malaysia

Namibia

Namibia

Nauru

Nauru

Philippines

Philippines

Rwanda

Rwanda

Taiwan

Taiwan

Tibet

Tibet

Uruguay

Uruguay

Nepal

Nepal

Flags Featuring a Building
You may have to look closely to see San Marino’s three towers, or the seven castles in the Portugal flag. The Northern Mariana Islands flag contains a building’s building-block, namely the Latte Stone used as a pillar.

Afganistan

Afganistan

Cambodia

Cambodia

Gibraltar

Gibraltar

Ibiza

Ibiza

Mongolia

Mongolia

Norhern Mariana Islands

Norhern Mariana Islands

Portugal

Portugal

San Marino

San Marino

Flags With a Crescent Moon
The crescent moon, often with one or more stars, sometimes signifies something to do with the Ottoman empire (Turkey), Islam, or a few other things.

Algeria

Algeria

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

Brunei

Brunei

Comoros

Comoros

Croatia

Croatia

Iran

Iran

Libya

Libya

Malaysia

Malaysia

Maldives

Maldives

Mauritania

Mauritania

Moldova

Moldova

Mongolia

Mongolia

Pakistan

Pakistan

Singapore

Singapore

Tunisia

Tunisia

Turkey

Turkey

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Western Sahara

Western Sahara

 

Nepal

Nepal

Flags Featuring Something Animal-Like
… which may include dragons. In addition to several variations of birds (eagle, crane, dove, parrot, frigatebird, quetzal, bird of paradise, plover, golden bosun, condor), the flag animals include: cow, dolphin, lion, lobster, turtle, sheep, seal, penguin, alpaca (using Bolivia’s state flag), the related vicuña (from Peru’s state flag), aurochs (Moldova), leopard (heads), goat, pine marten (those last 3 in Croatia’s) and reindeer. Canada’s Yukon would add a dog (so does Spain’s Canary Islands), and Manitoba would add a bison to the list. Martinique uses the French flag but has a local flag with snakes; Mayotte also uses the French flag and its local flag features seahorses – everyone’s favorite mascot.

Albania

Albania

American Samoa

American Samoa

Andorra

Andorra

Anguilla

Anguilla

Azores

Azores

Bermuda

Bermuda

Bhutan

Bhutan

Bolivia

Bolivia

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

Christmas Island

Christmas Island

Croatia

Croatia

Dominica

Dominica

Ecuador

Ecuador

Egypt

Egypt

Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands

Fiji

Fiji

Guatemala

Guatemala

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Kiribati

Kiribati

Mexico

Mexico

Moldova

Moldova

Montenegro

Montenegro

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Peru (State flag)

Peru (State flag)

Saint Helena

Saint Helena

Serbia

Serbia

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

Spain

Spain

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Tibet

Tibet

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

Uganda

Uganda

US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

Wales

Wales

Zambia

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

New Caledonia has two official flags (a rarity); one is the French flag and the other is shown here. That black thing in the yellow (sun) circle makes me think of an ant, although it’s supposed to be some type of arrow.

New Caledonia

New Caledonia

Flags Featuring Humans
This category requires more than just leg parts, so the Isle of Man does not qualify.

Belize

Belize

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands

Montserrat

Montserrat

Flags Featuring Food
This selective category does not include flags that just include animals or trees; it loosely focuses more on hand-held foods. There are not a lot of candidates so flags from the non-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the unofficial Guadeloupe one (officially the France flag) are allowed, featuring paddy/rice stalks and sugar cane respectivley. But Fiji gobbles up the category, with a sugar cane, cocoa pod, coconut (and tree) and bananas. Go there to eat!

ASEAN

ASEAN

Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe

Fiji

Fiji

Flags containing a Bible
There are two such flags — which can make one pause when faced with the question, “What is the only national flag that has the bible within its flag?” Those thinking it’s the Dominican Republic obviously don’t think Pitcairn Islands deserve to have a “national” flag. Containing descendents from the Mutiny on the Bounty episode, the island(s) hosts a population that sometimes exceeds 50. It’s currently last in population on THIS list, and is referred to as “the least populous national jurisdiction in the world,” and is the world’s smallest democracy.

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Pitcairn Islands

Pitcairn Islands

Flags Containing Rugs
One country vacuums up the awards in this category, with 5 carpet designs (“guls“) on its flag.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

Flags Featuring a Hat
… although I have to admit I thought it was some kind of iron-work until I read up on it. Of course, it’s a hat designed after a mountain.

Lesotho

Lesotho

Flags From Countries Starting with ‘Z’ That Loosely Share Notions About Flag Colors and Animals
And they share a border in Africa. They’re even close in population (around 14 million) so that they currently rank #71 and #72 on this country population list.

Zambia

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Flags With a Hint of Digital Computing
In addition to the Yin-Yang symbol in the middle, the South Korean flag contains four “trigams“, each having three lines that can be either unbroken or broken in half. These operate like binary numbers used in computers. 3 lines that can be either broken or unbroken (like 0 or 1 in computing) can make 8 combinations. For historical / philosophical reasons, the flag selects 4 of these combinations (1, 3, 6, and 8 in a 1-to-8 sequence) with various meanings.

South Korea

South Korea

Flags With Only One Color

This is a very short category because there are currently no countries with just one color. Libya had a solid green flag from 1977-2011, selected by Gaddafi. After his passing, the country reverted to the flag otherwise used since 1951. Don’t be surprised if more changes are in store for that flag in the near future.

Flags That Vaguely Resemble a Nuclear Bomb Strike
… with missile strike path and a nuclear-like cloud at the impact site (use your imagination!). And coincidentally that’s what happened in the 1940’s and 1950’s in parts of the Marshall Islands (especially the Bikini Atoll).

Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands

My Favorites
I like the colors and layout of Seychelles, the perpetually circling Isle of Man’s legs, and the informality of Kiribati (not to mention its playful name and the fact that it’s the only 4-hemisphere country). How about yours? Leave a note with your vote. Spot what you think is a mistake? Won’t be surprised; let us know that too.

Kiribati

Kiribati

Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Seychelles

Seychelles

Among some useful references:
Flags of the World
Wikipedia, search for: flag of country-name
The CIA’s Flag Page (don’t worry, they’re already tracking you)

Note that because flags change over time and many countries have multiple versions (including unofficial ones that are commonly used), different sources may show different designs for the same country. (A few of those unofficial ones were used here, because they can be more interesting.)

*Luxembourg uses both 3:5 and 1:2 proportions

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