A national flag is an unique symbol for a country. The design of a national flag is often derived from the country's history as well as the values desired of its people. Generally, countries sharing a common history will end up sharing similar-looking designs. For example, Slavic countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia would follow Russia's model of having the colours of blue, white and red in their flags. In addition, it is common to find the colours of red, white and black in the flags of Arab countries. The Nordic countries also share a similar design of a horizontal cross on a single-coloured background.
1. The newest national flag - Libya
With the fall of the old regime of Colonel Qaddafi, Libya has adopted a new flag, which replaces the old one which only has the green colour. (The green colour was to commemorate Qaddafi's "Green Revolution" in 1969.) Interestingly, this new flag was the original flag of the Kingdom of Libya, which became independent in 1951. As a sign of departure from the old regime, the new Libyan government chose to re-adopt Libya's original flag on 3 August 2011 as the country's national flag.
It consists of a white star and crescent on a red-black-green design. The width of central black band is designed to be twice that of the outer bands.
- The black colour is a reference to the Senussi dynasty from Cyrenaica (a Muslim political-religious order in the 19th century).
- The red represents the blood of the Libyan people who have died during the Italian fascist rule
- The green represents the era of independence and freedom.
- The crescent and star represent Islam which is the main religion in Libya.
2. Countries sharing almost similar flags - Indonesia and Monaco or Romania and Chad
Both national flags of Indonesia and Monaco comprise of two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and while (bottom). The only difference is the flag proportions, of which Monaco's is 2 : 1.5 while Indonesia's is 2.5 : 1.5.
For Monaco (shown below), the bicolour design of the flag was officially adopted in April 1881, making it one of the world's oldest national flags. The red and white colours were the heraldic colors of the ruling Grimaldi family.
For Indonesia, the flag's design, which was officially adopted in August 1945, was based on the banner of the 13th century Majapahit Empire in East Java. The red colour represents courage, while the while represents purity of intent.
Both the national flags of Romania and Chad consists of three equal vertical bands of blue (hoist side), yellow and red, though for Chad's, the blue band is darker in tone.
The Romanian national flag (featured below) is modeled after modeled after the tri-colour flag of France. The colours are those of the principalities of Walachia (red and yellow) and Moldavia (red and blue), which were united in 1859 to form Romania. The current Romanian flag was adopted in December 1989.
As for Chad, the national flag was adopted in June 1959.
- The blue colour symbolises hope, the sky and water.
- The yellow colour symbolises the sun and the desert in the north of the country.
- The red colour symbolises progress, unity and sacrifice, as well as the lives lost during the country's struggle for independence.
3. World's only non-quadrilateral flag - Nepal
Nepal has the honour of having the world's only non-quadrilateral flag. It is a simplified combination of two pennants. The flag was officially adopted, together with the formation of a new constitutional government, in December 1962. The flag's design is based on previous versions which have been used in the past.
- The crimson red represents the colour of Nepal's national flower, the rhododendron. It also symbolises victory in war and courage of the Nepalese people.
- The blue border represents peace.
- The two triangular portions of the Nepalese flag represent the Himalayan Mountains and the two main religions of the nation - Buddhism and Hinduism.
- The moon and sun represent Nepal's desire to last as long as the sun and moon.
- The moon also symbolizes that the calm nature of the Nepalese people.
- The sun symbolizes the people's fierce resolve.
4. Oldest flag - Denmark
The Danish flag consists of a red base with an uneven white cross. The horizontal stripe of the cross runs across the centre of the flag, but the vertical stripe is shifted more to the left side of the flag. Denmark's flag, which is the oldest continuously used national flag in the world, was officially adopted in 1625, though legend has it that it was already in use in the 13th century.
The flag is often called the Dannebrog which means 'Danish cloth'. Due to the flag's proportions of 28:37, it is almost square in shape. (The original design was a perfect square, but it was later elongated in length.)
- The white cross represents Christianity. (The cross design was also subsequently adopted by other Nordic countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland.)
- The white colour represents peace and honesty.
- The red colour represents bravery, strength, valour and resilience.
5. Flag that alludes to the United Nations - Somalia
Somalia's national flag was officially adopted in October 1954. The flag consists of a light blue background with a large white five-pointed star in the centre.
- The blue base colour represents the blue sky over Somalia as well as the United Nations, which played an instrumental role in the country's progress towards independence.
- The five points of the star represent the five regions in the horn of Africa that are inhabited by the Somali people: the former British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland (which together make up Somalia), Djibouti, Ogaden (Ethiopia), and the Northern Frontier District (Kenya)
6. Only national flag to feature a modern rifle - Mozambique
Mozambique's flag consists of three equal horizontal bands of green (top), black, and yellow (bottom) with a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist side. Officially adopted in May 1983, the flag is based on the flag of the Mozambican Liberation Front, which looks like the current flag but without the emblem.
- The green colour represents the riches of the land.
- The white colour represents peace.
- The black colour represents the African continent.
- The yellow colour represents the country's minerals.
- The red colour symbolises the country's struggle for independence.
- The rifle symbolizes defence and vigilance.
- The hoe symbolizes the country's agriculture.
- The open book reiterates the importance of education.
- The star represents Marxism and internationalism.