There isn’t always a President of Fiji, what with all the suspended constitutions and coups d’état, but when there is one they fly a dark blue flag with the Fijian coat of arms in gold. Beneath the arms is a tabua, or whale’s tooth.
Halifax, since 1999
April 12 is Halifax Day, although weirdly enough in North Carolina and not in Halifax. The four arrows represent the four former municipalities that were merged into the Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996.
The arc of stars in the middle of Venezuela’s flag used to be arranged in a much less attractive ring. Before that it was an even less attractive clump. I imagine if you go back far enough you’d just find them in a big old heap.
Romani people, since 1971
April 8 is International Romani Day. The Romani flag is blue and green, symbolizing the heavens and the earth. The red chakra wheel represents their history of travel, and may also be a nod to their Indian origins.
Midway Atoll, since 2000
There are around 3 million birds on Midway and only 60 people, so it’s fitting that they have such a bird-centric flag. I also like how they have two slightly different shades of blue for the sea and the sky.
In the 1981 state election, the United Sabah National Organization was utterly crushed. They had already been in opposition since 1976, but this time they were reduced to a mere three seats out of 48. (The winning party had 44.) The new government stripped the state flag of USNO colours, replacing it with one that looked a lot like the Czechoslovakian flag. In 1988 the old pattern was restored, but the yellow stripe was removed and the green and brown colours were replaced with a second and third shade of blue.
Burma, 1939-1941, 1945-1948
Even though Burma didn’t become a separate colony until 1937, and didn’t officially get a badge until 1939, the peacock on a gold field had been used as an informal coat of arms since 1915. The design was based off old silver coins minted by the Konbaung Dynasty.
Peru-Bolivian Confederation, 1836-1839
There were actually two Perus in the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. The Republic of South Peru got an entirely new flag and coat of arms when it declared independence in 1836, but North Peru kept the old Peruvian state symbols. The coats of arms of the three constituent states were put together onto this kind of cluttered national flag.
British Virgin Islands, since 1999
"Vigilate" is latin for "be vigilant." Why is this not still a verb? Imagine telling someone to vigilate!
Tibet, since c.1925
Tibet’s flag wasn’t particularly well-known among Tibetans until after China took over. That’s because it was mainly an army flag, used as a national flag only when circumstances demanded it. It was not for example flown on government buildings.
It’s been said that the Japanese monk Aoki Bunkyo had a hand in designing the Tibetan flag, but by 1925 he had already been out of the country for almost a decade. It’s possible he helped design the earlier version, or that this flag is older than we think.
Quintana Roo, since 2013
Most Mexican states don’t have official flags, although they occasionally fly white flags with the state coat of arms in the centre. The state of Quintana Roo became something like the third state to adopt an official flag and they chose… a white flag with the state coat of arms in the centre. Great.
The logo of the ZELS is a sun made up of a bunch of little circles, representing the various Macedonian municipalities. A clever adaptation of the national symbol.
Tai Federation, 1948-1954
The Tai Federation was an autonomous zone set up by the French in what’s now Northwest Vietnam. Not long after the battle of Dien Ben Phu the authority was dissolved by the North Vietnamese government. The flag is still used by the Tai Dam minority.
Czech-Roma Flag (art project), 2013
A Slovakian artist named Tomáš Rafa was recently fined for “defamation of the Czech flag” by authorities in Prague after making a series of paintings that combined the Roma flag with the flag of the Czech Republic.
You know, I like flags a lot, but there’s a dark side lurking underneath these dumb colourful rectangles. They have the power to become not just symbols of hatred, but weapons. Tools for spreading and celebrating the most vicious kinds of nationalism and racism. The Czech flag is great and everything, but it’s not a holy object to be revered, and it shouldn’t be used as a racist bludgeon against artists and persecuted minorities. There ain’t nothing good lying down that path.
(designer: Tomáš Rafa)