Flags of Countries Around the World

Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Flags of countries of the world mean many things, from political and religious beliefs to even a land of dragons. Using color, symbols and shapes, countries around the world use flags to tell the rest of the world who and what they are.

What Do Flags Represent?

Believe it or not, there is actually a study of flags called vexillology.

Flags of countries around the world represent not only that country or territory, but also their history, political and religious beliefs, culture, society and even natural sights from their land. By using different colors, symbols and even shapes, countries identify themselves to the outside world. Flags come and go but one thing remains the same: they are a big deal to many people.

Flags of countries around the world.
Map

Flags from Around the World

Scandinavia Flags

Nearly all Scandinavian countries and territories, like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Aland and Skane, and even some British territories, like Orkney and the Shetland Islands, use the Nordic Cross. Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark, has its own flag, a sun representing both the near 24 hours of sun in the summer/darkness in the winter, in many places in Greenland.

Flag of Denmark showing the Nordic Cross
Flag of Denmark

Arabic and Muslim Flags

Nearly all Arabic and Muslim-nation flags, like Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, include either the colors green, red, black or white, stars, a crescent moon or the Shahada, Arabic script which means There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Flag of Saudi Arabia with the Shahada.
Saudi

Africa

Many African, and even some Caribbean, flags have red, black, green, and yellow to symbolize African unity and independence. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Grenada, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mozambique, Saint Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Dominica use these colors to show their history and the history of Africa. Many of the Caribbean nations are descendants of Africans as well.

Animals and Symbols

Many flags have animals and symbols that are important to a country. While the eagle (Mexico and Albania) is popular, Sri Lanka has a lion, Andorra has two cows and the Falkland Islands has a white ram. For symbols, India has the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel. Israel has the Jewish Star of David.

Communism

While there aren't many communist countries left anymore, the red (for revolution) and black flags of communist countries along with the hammer and sickle and star, to represent work, agriculture and communism, struck terror in the hearts of many democracies before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. The flag of Mozambique, a country that was very closely aligned with the communist Soviet Union, is the only flag of a United Nations country that has a firearm on it. The Mozambique flag's image has a hoe (agriculture) crossed with an AK-47 with a bayonet.

Flag of Mozambique
Mozambique Flag

Cross of St. George

Probably one of the most recognized on Earth is the flag of Great Britain, also known as the Union Jack. In the middle is the Cross of St. George. Nearly all of Britain's present overseas territories (Gibraltar has a castle), like the Falkland Islands and the Virgin Islands, have this symbol in their flags. Many British territories that are only British in name, like Australia and New Zealand, or members of the British Commonwealth, a group of present or former British colonies, have this symbol in their flag. Canada tries something in the middle to make everyone happy. Red is supposedly for the cross of St. George, white is probably from the French coat of arms, and we all know what the maple leaf is for.

The Cross of St. George is so widely recognized that even the Republic of Georgia adopted it in 2004. While some people would like to abolish the Cross on their flags (like New Zealand, as a connection to Great Britain), Georgia wanted to be identified as European and a (mostly, there are also Muslims in Georgia) Christian country. Interestingly, while New Zealand is voting to change its flag, most New Zealanders would like to stick with what they have now.

Flag of Great Britain.
Cross

Red, White and Blue

Many flags of countries of the world have red, white and blue, including (it's a big list!) but not limited to Australia, Cambodia, Chile, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Faroe Islands, France, Haiti, Iceland, North Korea, Laos, Liberia, Luxembourg, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States.

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