2. Libya, 1977-2011

    Remember this thing? Muammar Gaddafi’s green banner wasn’t the only single-colour flag in history but there haven’t exactly been a whole lot of them.

    Why was this one so plain? I’m pretty sure part of the reason is that it was originally supposed to be temporary. Until 1977, Libya used the flag of the Federation of Arab Republics: a red-white-black horizontal tricolour with a gold hawk in the centre that was shared by Egypt, Syria and Libya. Then on November 19, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to visit Israel, initiating the process that would lead to the Camp David Accords.

    Gaddafi was furious. He had the federation flag burned in front of the Egyptian embassy and pledged to replace it with a new uniquely Libyan flag. In the meantime he whipped up a plain green “interim” flag, no doubt a reference to his “Green Book” philosophy. But green was always Gaddafi’s favourite colour, and once the interim flag was flying he apparently didn’t see a need to replace it. It was another 34 years before country’s original independence flag was flying again. 

    (designer: Muammar Gaddafi)

  4. Tenerife, since 1989, maritime flag since 1845.

    There are quite a few legends about how this Spanish island came to have a flag that looks just like Scotland’s, but in reality it’s just a total coincidence. In 1845 Spain’s maritime provinces were assigned individual flags. These flags were just supposed to distinguish one province from another, and didn’t have anything to do with local symbolism. The designs were simple and geometric: crosses, saltires, cantons, borders, and basic divisions of the field, and they used just four colours: red, blue, yellow, and white. The Canary Islands maritime province was arbitrarily assigned a white saltire on blue. That province was split into Tenerife and Las Palmas in 1869, and the former kept the original flag.

    Even though the flags weren’t supposed to represent local symbolism, many of them turned into local symbols anyway. (The Galician flag is the classic example of this.) The Tenerife flag made its way onto land, and gradually evolved from a flag representing ships from the island to a flag representing the island itself. It was officially adopted on land in 1989.

  6. United Kingdom (minus Scotland), 2012 proposal 

    Okay just for the record: the idea that the rest of Britain would have to stop using the Union Jack if Scotland separated is just silly. Flags aren’t like automatically updated by a computer whenever the size of the country changes. If the people of the United Kingdom want to keep their flag they are entitled to do so, protestations of the deputy chairman of the parliamentary flags and heraldry committee notwithstanding.

    If you want to see this principle in action, look to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Before the split the Czechs and Slovaks had both agreed that neither would use the old Czechoslovakian flag, but then the Czech Republic decided to keep the old flag anyway and there was nothing Slovakia could do about it. Or look at the Comoros. They have a star and a stripe on their flag representing Mayotte, an island which has never even been a part of their country.

    Bottom line: if Scotland declares independence, the UK will be allowed to keep St Andrew’s Cross on their flag, just like Newfoundland was allowed to keep using the Union Jack after it became a Canadian province and New Zealand was allowed to keep the Union Jack on its flag after it became fully independent. So don’t worry about it.

  8. Aleppo, 1920-1924

    The French mandate in Syria produced some questionable flag design, and for my money the State of Aleppo’s flag was the worst of the bunch. The dinky French flag in the corner is totally unbalanced on the big empty field, and the gold stars on white make for a terrible colour scheme. This flag was thankfully abolished when Damascus and Aleppo were reunited.

  9. The Japan-Manchukuo Protocol was signed on 15 September 1932

  10. Central America, 1825-1838

    September 15 is Independence Day in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. And if you’ve ever wondered why all those countries have such similar looking flags, it’s because they were all once part of the same country. The Federal Republic of Central America only lasted for 15 years, but all five successor states kept using the blue-white-blue tricolour. 

    There were tweaks of course, but they were usually minimal. El Salvador and Nicaragua’s flags are nearly indistinguishable from each other and from the original flag. They both even still say “America Central” on them. Meanwhile Honduras literally just kept flying the old Central American flag for another 30 years. Today Costa Rica’s is the most different; they added a big red stripe during the Revolutions of 1848.

    (designer: Louis-Michel Aury)

  11. shibasommelier:

    2013 Bodegas Carrau Sauvignon Blanc “Sur Lie”

    Oh man, this is awesome stuff. Great Sauvignon Blanc nose of green pepper, white florals, lemon, and pear. Wonderful acidity and balance on the palate. Green pepper leads the palate but doesn’t dominate. Irises, lemon, cantaloupe, and mineral/stone notes. Almost like a New Zealand + Old World Sauvignon Blanc hybrid!

    5/5 bones


    Sauvignon Blanc

    13% abv

    Cerro Chapeau, URUGUAY

    Oh internet.

  12. Nordfriesland, since 1972

    The three symbols on the sails represent the three districts that were merged to form Nordfiresland in 1970: a fish for Südtondern, a plough for Husum, and a bull’s head for Eiderstedt.

    I love the look of this flag. Feels very dynamic and triumphant for some reason.

    (designer: Wilhelm Horst Lippert)

  13. polemostasis:

    Pavillon de la marine Bretonne

    This flag is being sold online as the “Navy flag of Brittany.” It combines two medieval Breton symbols: the Kroaz Du (black cross) and the ermine field. Both symbols were used by the Duchy of Brittany, the former as a banner, and the latter as a coat of arms. I’m not sure this design itself is actually historical though.

    Nope, totally historical! A reader pointed me to the flag of the Admiralty of Britanny

  14. Pacific Community, since 1999

    The SPC flag nicely combines a regional organization look with a Pacific look. Each member is represented by one of the stars, and the emblem in the centre represents a sailing ship on the ocean.