The Colorful World Of Flags

pic   Originally appeared in The News Tribe on  8 th April 2013

The word vexillology is combination of the Latin word vexillum  meaning “flag” or “standard” and the Greek suffix -logy (“study”). Hence Vexillology is the scientific study of the flags.


2.         What are flags and why are they?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary “A flag is usually a piece of fabric with a distinctive design that is used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or decoration”. The historical origin of flags dates back to about three thousand years ago, when the Egyptians used primitive versions of flags for the purpose of identification or to signal to others. Military regiments were among the first groups that used flags. Similarly ships started using flags at sea to signal to each other and to harbors. The national flags of states and countries became more common during the later part of the 18th century. By the 19th century, all sovereign states had their own national flags.


 3.         Which is the oldest national flag that is still in use?

The flag of Denmark called as “the Dannebrog”, introduced in early thirteenth century is the oldest national flag still in use.

Why Australia and New Zealand have Great Britain’s flag on them?

Its not only the Australia and New Zealand few other common wealth states like Fiji and Bermuda had also retained the Union Jack as part of their flags depicting the British colonization era. In recent times there has been huge debate in Australia for removing the Union Jack.


5.         What is a Maple Leaf doing on the Canadian flag?

In 1964, Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson appointed a committee to have a distinct Canadian Flag to replace the Union Flag. This resulted in the maple leaf being placed on the Canadian flag that was inspired by the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada. A popular yet incorrect belief is that the eleven points on the maple leaf emblem stand for Canada’s provinces, plus the federal government



.         How many stars and stripes are on American Flag…and why?

There are 13 stripes on American flag that represent the 13 original colonies of the US. The 50 stars represent the individual states that make up the nation. In recent times there are political movements supporting statehood in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbiaand a 51st state will require a modification in U.S flag to accommodate the additional star.           


7.         Which national flag has different obverse and reverse sides?

Normally a national flag has the same front and back sides. However Paraguay’s flag is unique to have different emblems on the obverse (front) and reverse (back). The front of the Paraguay flag has the country’s state coat of arms on it, and the back has the country’s Treasury Seal.


8.         Which Flag has the most amounts of text/ lettering on it?

The question can be tricky in terms of “language equivalence” however, Saudi Arabia with           Arabic version of ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad (m.p.b.u.h) is his prophet’ and  Brazilian flag with a motto in French “Ordem e Progresso” meaning  “Order and Progress” are the potential candidates.


.         Which is the latest national flag?

New Libyan national flag introduced in Aug 2011, is the latest addition in inventory of world flags. Other new inductions include South Sudan (2011), Rwanda (2009), Iraq (2008), Kosovo (2008), Serbia (2006), Afghanistan (2002) and East Timor (2002).(Shown in order of mentioned names )


10.       What is the commonality in national flags of Central American Countries?

The blue-white-blue pattern is common to most of the Central American countries including Belize, Costa  Rica, El Salvador , Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua  and Panama. (Shown in order of mentioned names )


11.       What is that tree on Lebanon’s flag?

Lebanese flag had and an image of a green cedar tree on a white stripe. It has been used as a symbol by the Maronite Christians of Lebanon since the 18th and 19th centuries .Officially the tree has to be completely green.


.       Which country has most colorful flag?

The question is not a simple one. If the number of colors is restricted to the base colors only than probably South African is the most colorful with six distinct colors. However if the colors of the emblems on the flags are also to be included than flags of El Salvador and Belize are the competing candidates.


.       Which is the simplest flag?

From 1977 to 2011 the Libyan flag was the only national flag in the world that was monochromatic green with nothing else on it. The flag was in conjunction with the political philosophy known as the Green Book introduced by country’s ruler Col Qadafi.

Libyan Flag(1977-2011)    Libyan Flag(2011)


Which is the most complex flag?

The flags with national emblems and coat of arms can be regarded as the most complex .If criterion of difficulty is to be that how easily a child can draw a flag with his hands on a paper than flags of Sri Lanka, Cambodia,Bhuttan and Albania can pose serious problems.


Why is flag of United Kingdom called as Union Jack?

The flag of the United Kingdom is called the Union Flag or the Union Jack. Its origin is in the term “jack” used by navy which refers to a small flag hoisted at the front of a ship to indicate the nationality.


16.       What are the two countries that have square flags?

Currently the flags of Switzerland and the Vatican City are the only two square  flags(aspect ratio 1:1) held by a sovereign-state. Officially the national flag of Belgium has also the unusual proportions of 13:15, which makes it closer to a square, but is rarely seen and a flag in a 2:3 or similar ratio is used.


.       Why Nepal’s flag is not a quadrilateral?

The answer lies in the history and there is no single answer. For few, the two triangles symbolize the Himalayas while others advocate for the two main religions in Nepal – Hinduism and Buddhism. Historically the flag combines the two separate pennants which belonged to rival branches of the formerly ruling Rana dynasty. The two pennants were first joined in the last century, but the flag was officially adopted with the formation of a new constitutional government in 1962.


To which countries, the Pan Arabic colored flag (Red,White Black), with one, two and three greened stars belong?

The former pan Arabic flag is the current flag of Yemen (North and South Yemen combined).While one with a single green star on pan Arabic colors  was the flag of former North Yemen, two green starred flag is the current Syrian flag and the three green starred flag was the flag of Iraq prior to 1961.


         Yemen                         North Yemen (Old Flag)                   Syria                       Iraq (Old Flag)

 What is special about Flag of Kuwait?

The Kuwait has used 24 different flags since 1714 and in 2005 it became the design of the

world’s largest kite made in New Zealand .


Something special about Pakistani Flag?


The flag was designed by Amiruddin Kidwai, and is based on the All-India Muslim League flag. It was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, three days before the country’s independence,League flag. It is referred in the national anthem as “Parcham-e-Sitāra-o-Hilāl” .The color of Pakistan flag is “Pakistan Green” which is different from dark green, Paris green, sea green and the Persian green. Pakistani flag is distinctively graceful.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s