1. Colombian Air Force, ensign

    Bet you can’t guess Colombia’s national colours.

  2. Champa, 1964 proposal

    The Kingdom of Champa flourished in Southeast Asia for around a thousand years, but hasn’t existed for centuries. In 1964, Cham nationalists tried to reestablish their country by declaring independence from Vietnam, but the South Vietnamese army took control of the region the following year.

  3. Chaco Province, 1995 proposal (top); since 2007 (bottom)

    The ’90s were an… interesting time for flag design. This is one of the more out there flags I’ve seen from that decade, and it came very close to being adopted. The design won a provincial flag contest, beating around 120 other proposals (I can only wonder what they must have looked like.) But as soon as it got out there, it was utterly blasted by the public. The outcry was so total that the province passed the flag off the Association of Ceremonial Professionals of the Argentine Republic, who decided in 1997 that it was not appropriate for use. A new contest was eventually arranged, which led to the adoption of a much more traditional-looking flag ten years later.

    (designer: Jorge Alberto Esquível [top], Mario Orlando Gadotti [bottom])

  4. Governor of Oklahoma, since 1957

    The Governor of Oklahoma will not rest until Puerto Rico becomes a state and this flag has the correct number of stars.

  5. Governor General of the Belgian Congo, 1936-1960

    Now this is an interesting reversal. Normally the colonizer goes on the top left and the colony goes on the bottom right, not the other way around.

  6. Iraq, 2004 proposal

    A new flag for a new Iraq, or so the Americans thought. Turns out most Iraqis didn’t appreciate this total break from their national tradition. No pan-Arab black, green, or red, but tons of blue. The flag was roundly rejected and quickly abandoned, and manufacturers who had made thousands of new flags and patches were left with an unsalable stockpile. 

    (designer: Rifat Chadirji)

  7. Salesópolis, since 1952

    Hoo boy, are you ready for this? Green for forests and meadows, yellow for wealth, white for peace and harmony, red for blood spilled in defense of democratic principles, blue for hospitality. The 26 stars on the white band represent the neighbourhoods of the city, the gold star represents the state of São Paulo, and the map of Brazil represents “feelings of Brazilianness”.

    You know, sometimes simpler is better.

  8. Montenegro, 1993-2004

    Flags longer than 1:2 are a rarity nowadays. One of the last major ones I can think of (aside from Qatar at 11:28) is this tricolour that Montenegro used during its brief union with Serbia. Why it had this 1:3 ratio is a genuine mystery to me, as none of the flags it had before or since were ever that long. Maybe they wanted to stand out from Serbia’s very similar flag?

  9. Wyoming, since 1917

    Wyoming: It’s where the bison are.

    (designer: Verna Keays)

  10. British Windward Islands, 1903-1958

    It seems like the original intention behind the badge of the British Windward Islands was to have a shield with four quarters for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and Grenada. But for whatever reason this was never done and the colony was left with basically a blank shield. 

  11. Marseille, since at least the 13th or 14th century

    Marseille’s city flag is pretty damn old, although no one’s quite sure how old exactly. The first reference to the city having a flag with a cross on it comes in 1254, although it doesn’t mention anything about colour. The earliest image of a blue cross in white comes in the 14th century, but on a shield and not on a flag. In any case it’s likely that the flag was in use some time around then.

  12. Trustees of the Port of Bombay, 1880-1947

    The British Admiralty had a habit of putting little naval vignettes on the flags it designed, but they definitely went overboard on this one. The flag shows various scenes from the around the Port of Bombay: a lighthouse, a steamship, a dhow, and a signal station. The Mumbai Port Trust still exists today, and though it long stopped using this flag its logo still contains those four scenes.

  13. Kakogawa, since 1970

    Most Japanese city flags just have a plain solid colour background. The waves are a nice departure that are still in keeping with the broader style.

  14. Curaçao, since 1984

    July 2 is the 30th Birthday of the flag of Curaçao. The blue background actually has two meanings: the bit above the yellow line represents the sky, while the bit below represents the sea.

    (designer: Martin den Dulk)

  15. Melekeok

    Melekeok is the former capital of Palau. Most drawings of the flag online show the red and blue rays as reversed, but photographs of license plates from Palau show them in the above configuration.

    In case you were wondering, that bird isn’t holding a button in its mouth. That’s a chelebucheb piece — a small bead that was formerly used as currency. Better than the giant stone money, that’s for sure.