Pittsburgh and Philly have some of the oldest city flags in America, and both of them also have designated ensigns for use by riverboats. The Philadelphia version has the city’s full coat of arms, while the Pittsburgh version just has the castle from the crest.
Pittsburgh’s flag is clearly a copy of Philadelphia’s template, but it’s interesting that no other American cities saw the need to have an ensign. I guess it’s a Pennsylvania thing.
(designer: Henry Christopher McCook [Philadelphia])
Kukurečani, until 2003
The emblem of the former municipality of Kukurečani was a sun with wheat sheaves for rays. A fitting symbol for a Macedonian farming town.
From time to time weird unsourced flags show up on Wikipedia. Earlier this year, a user named EG111111 uploaded flags for each of the seven provinces of Equatorial Guinea, listing only “Own work” as their source.
This one is the most conventional, and the easiest one for me to convert to vector image. Some of the others are… well, see for yourself. Where did they come from? Did EG11111 invent them or document real world flags? I’m guessing it’s the former, but it’s tough to say one way or another. Just another reason why you should be wary of Wikipedia.
(designer: EG111111 [?])
British Indian Ocean Territory, since 1990
The BIOT is an unusual territory and it has an unusual ensign with a wavy white and blue background. The device on the fly is a palm tree with a crown over it, which seems to be imperialist shorthand for “We control a tropical island.” Looking at this flag you would never know that there was a whole group of people that called this place home. Then again, maybe that’s kind of the point.
Panama tried to break away from Colombia several times in the 19th century. After an uprising in 1855, the Republic of New Granada (as Colombia was called back then) tried to appease the rebels by making an autonomous state on the isthmus. In 1858, New Granada became a federal republic called the Granadine Confederation, and each of the country’s eight states was given its own flag. Although “own” might be a bit of an exaggeration, since they were all nearly identical. The design was the Confederation’s red-blue-yellow vertical tricolour with the national coat of arms on a white oval in the centre. Around the oval was a red band, which had the country’s name on top and the state’s name on the bottom.
The Granadine Confederation quickly fell into civil war. The rebel liberal general Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera entered Bogota in 1861 and overthrew the sitting conservative government, changing the country’s name to the United States of Colombia and adopting a new coat of arms and flag. Panama’s flag changed accordingly. Finally, with the adoption of a unitary constitution in 1886, the state of Panama became just another province.
Dnipropetrovsk, since 2002
Ukrainian oblasts have some pretty great flags, apparently. Where Ivano-Frankivsk has its happy crow, Dnipropetrovsk has a grumpy Cossack. But to me the really interesting part of the flag is those two wavy lines in the centre. The blue one represents the Dnieper River, and the yellow one is a “river of molten metal”, representing the steel industry. A river of molten metal! Incredible.
Also interesting: the flag is supposed to be affixed to the pole with golden nails. You can see a really tiny illustration of how it’s supposed to look on this page. Also interesting is that the design appears to continue past the edge of the flag and actually wrap around the pole. Pretty complex!
Ugh. Okay, so the five stars stand for five racial groups, and they’re pretty much the ones you would expect: White for Europeans, black for Africans, brown for "Hindustanis" and Javanese people, red for “Amerindians”, and yellow for Chinese people. Not a pretty flag, and not helped by the gross Power Rangers-style colour coding.
(designer: Frank Essed)
The Venda bantustan was granted its quote-unquote independence from South Africa on 13 September 1979. The colours of the flag were taken from traditional Venda beadwork.
This looks more like the flag of a corporation than the flag of a city. Specifically a corporation that’s based in an industrial park and provides “business solutions”.
The Grey Crowned Crane has graced Uganda’s flag since the colonial era. It was chosen as a badge by governor Frederick J. Jackson, no doubt because of his enthusiasm for ornithology and game hunting. After his retirement he devoted himself to writing about the birds of Kenya and Uganda, publishing his first book in 1926 and dying before he could finish the second.
(designer: Sir Frederick John Jackson)
The old Rhodesian flag is long gone, but two traces of it remain: The soapstone bird from the coat of arms is still on Zimbabwe’s current flag, and the Zimbabwean national rugby team still plays in a green and white uniform.
Honolulu, since 1960
The flag of Honolulu includes the shield from the Great Seal of Hawaii, which was based on the coat of arms of the old Kingdom of Hawaii. The only change was the escutcheon in the centre. It used to contain a feathered royal standard called a kahili between two crossed paddles. After Sanford Dole overthrew Queen Liliuokalani and declared a republic in 1893, those royal symbols were replaced by a single gold star. Nowadays that star is said to represent Hawaii’s star on the American flag.
(designer: Charles Tyng)
The Union Jack has worked its way onto a lot of flags over the years, but I wouldn’t have expected to see it in Chile. Apparently, gold and copper mining around Coquimbo attracted a fair number of English immigrants in the mid-19th century, and they made enough of an impact to get a place on the city’s coat of arms.
Eastern Province, since 2007
In 2006, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka nullified the 1987 merger of the country’s Northern and Eastern Provinces. The new Northern Province kept the flag of the old North Eastern Province but Eastern Province adopted an entirely new design. The fish, eagle, and lion represent the three districts of Batticaloa, Ampara, Trincomalee.