Bulgarian Navy, 1949-1955
The Kingdom of Bulgaria’s naval ensign had a crowned lion in the top left corner. The communists removed the crown of course, and they added a big red star while they were at it. It kind of ended up balancing out the design actually. Before 1946, the canton just kind of hung over the green stripe in a really weird way.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 1979-1985
In 1985, less than a year after the New Democratic Party defeated the Saint Vincent Labour Party at the polls, the government decided to change the flag. First they removed the thin white stripes, which had been added to the original local design by the College of Arms in London. Then they removed the breadfruit leaf and coat of arms from the yellow stripe, replacing it with three green diamonds in the shape of a V.
In an effort to drum up enthusiasm for the war effort, the British authorities in Burma took the unusual step of approving a new flag without the Union Jack on it. The new flag was just a blue field with the colonial badge in the center, and it was used until the Japanese occupation in 1942. After the war the old colonial ensign was used until independence.
Portuguese, Spanish, and New Zealand Olympic Teams, 1980
As part of the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, three countries participated under their Olympic Committee’s flag. While Spain and Portugal incorporated elements from their national flags, New Zealand went with the silver fern.
The tricolour on Araucania’s current flag [top] may be unremarkable, but that coat of arms is damn slick. This proposal from around 2006 [bottom] on the other hand just looks kind of sickly.
Kobe, since 1970
A friend of mine told me the other day that she thought Kobe’s flag looked like a vulva. Can’t really say I disagree.
This is one of several unofficial flags, but it’s the most common one you’ll find on the island.
Sri Lanka, since 1972
Sri Lanka’s flag was based on the royal flag of the Kingdom of Kandy, which was more or less just the right compartment of the flag. The left compartment was added in 1951 to represent the Muslims and Tamils of the country.
Some people suggest that there is a lot of hidden meaning encoded in the flag. Here are two examples from FOTW and Wikipedia, each with their website’s typical style of attribution:
If I may be so bold, I’d like to advance another theory: The lion represents the fact that the kings of Kandy wanted a lion on their flag.
Kaohsiung, since 2010
Unlike on mainland China, cities and counties on Taiwan are allowed to have their own flags. Kaohsiung’s is a bit unconventional but I really like it. The ribbon is in the shape of a 高, the first character in the city’s name, and its gold, pink, green, and blue colours stand for sunshine, vitality, environmental protection, and the ocean.
East African Community, since 2009.
The stripes on the EAC’s flag reflect the flags of all of its three original member states: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The blue stripes also stand for Lake Victoria, which is shared between the three countries.
The original flag was adopted on 1997, but the seal in the centre was updated when Burundi and Uganda joined in 2009.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, since 2006
The flag of this far-right Marathi nationalist party has a green stripe for Muslims, a blue stripe for Dalits, and a broad saffron stripe for Hindus. Pretty obvious who gets the preferential treatment on that one. I don’t know much about Indian parties but the guy at the head of this one kiiinda sounds like a full-on fascist.
Turkmenistan (proposed), 2004
The Agzybirlik movement has made a bunch of proposals for the flag of a Democratic Turkmenistan. Someone on FOTW helpfully translated their description:
The theme of the flag is simple and dear to the heart of every Turkmen: scarlet and green (al-yashyl)-are always associated by the Turkmen with abundance and welfare, these colors are the the symbols of triumph, kindness and justice.
Black color-reminds us of hard times being the share of our nation, about the tests trying the existence of the Turkmen Nation. And the disc of sun on the flag is the symbol of the richness of our soil and the source of life. There are other historical parallels to the choice of these three colors:
Red-connected with the Communist history of the country which saw the founding of the modern state of Turkmenistan.
Green- is connected with Islam, the religious faith of the nation.
Black-the color of the flag of the Medieval Turkmen state, suggesting the symbolic continuity of Turkmen statehood.
At the same time this flag was on their website, they had another tricolour with red-green-white stripes. No explanation for that one. Around 2006 they changed their proposal to one with just the red and green stripes and the sun disc.
This would certainly be a more conventional design but I actually think it would be a step down. Turkmenistan’s flag may be complicated as heck, but it’s unique and it has character and it genuinely reflects a local artistic tradition. The proposed alternative is kind of just one more tricolour in someone else’s colour scheme.
Pitcairn Islands, since 1984
On 23 January 1790, the HMS Bounty was burned by its former crew off the shores of Pitcairn Island. Nearly two centuries later, the island got its first official flag on the standard British model. The coat of arms has the ship’s anchor and bible on it.
With a population of around 50, Pitcairn is the least populated of Britain’s remaining overseas territories. Even the British Antarctic Territory has more people during the summer.