1. Manabí, since 2007

    The flag of this Ecuadorean province has a somewhat unusual composition. Arcs of stars are pretty standard, but they aren’t usually spread over multiple stripes or put next to a triangle like this. The whole thing just feels weirdly asymmetrical and unbalanced.

    There are some images online that show the stars in a circle instead of an arc. That would make a lot more sense, but the version with the arc seems way more common, even when you discard the renderings on FOTW and Wikipedia.

  2. Tegucigalpa

    What an odd little wonderland of a coat of arms this city has. It’s got a very atypical frame. Very floral and colourful and ornate. Got the little angel on her tippy-toes and everything.

  3. San Juan de Betulia

    This flag appears to depict the world’s most awkward handshake.

  4. North Yemen, 1962-1990

    When revolutionaries in North Yemen overthrew the Mutawakkilite monarchy, they took as their flag a version of the United Arab Republic tricolour with only one star. Much like the three-star flag adopted by Iraq a year later, it symbolized a hope to eventually join the union.

    But the UAR by this time had already effectively fallen apart, and the only union that ever took place was the one between North and South Yemen in 1990. When that new republic was created the star was dropped from the flag, leaving only the tricolour.

  5. South Arabia (1962-1967)

    The country that came to be known as South Yemen was known to the British first as the Aden Protectorate and then as South Arabia. The South Arabian national flag was was a tricolour of black, green, and blue, which represented the mountains, the fertile land, and the sea. The yellow fimbriations symbolized the desert. It was a bit out of character for the Arab World, but was nicely in line with the colourful flags used by South Yemen’s various sheikdoms and emirates.

  6. Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, since 2008

    This Ecuadorean province was split off from Pichncha in 2007. It takes its name from the Tsáchila people that live in the area. The red and green triangles come from the flag of the provincial capital, and the black and white stripes come from a traditional type of Tsáchila clothing. Also it’s got a sweet rainbow hummingbird on it.

    (designer: Andrea Pía Amores Argandoña)

  7. Irish Air Corps

    This is just a military flag but it looks like it should be the flag of some kind of secret society or masonic lodge or something. All the weird symbols and belts and slogans and whatnot.

  8. Indian Air Force, fin flash since 1948

    So this one isn’t a proper “flag” exactly; it’s a fin flash, which is a type of national marking used by most air forces. As the name suggests they go on the fin, and typically they’re based on the national flag. But if a country’s flag is too complicated the flash may just be a series of vertical bars in its national colours. (The Jamaican fin flash for example is a green-black-yellow tricolour.) In India’s case they turned their flag vertical and took out the wheel from the centre, leaving them with what’s basically just a copy of the flag of Ireland. And what does the Irish Air Corps use? Also the Irish flag. Seems unnecessarily complicated.

  9. Calama, since 2014

    The Chilean town of Calama held a flag competition earlier this year and oh my god this is such a slam dunk. The design uses colours and patterns from pre-Hispanic textiles to represent the local desert landscape. The red part represents the region’s copper industry.

    (designer: Víctor Rojas Tabilo)

  10. Los Angeles County, since 1967

    LA County has a pretty excellent seal, but that flag, yeesh. Light blue over greenish-blue just ain’t a good look.

    (designer: Kenneth Hahn)

  11. Kawartha Lakes, since 2009

    You know gradients on flags are never great, but this ain’t half bad for a small town. I think it could use a bit more room at the top but overall it’s a simple design that has a nice outdoorsy feel. Kinda looks like a decorative flag you’d by at Canadian Tire and then hang up at your cottage.

  12. Mali, 1959-1961

    The first modern state to bear the name Mali was the Mali Federation, a union of French Soudan and Senegal. Senegal broke away shortly after the union gained independence in 1960 and it replaced the stick figure with a green star. The Soudanese Republic kept the old flag and on 22 September 1960 it officially exited the moribund Federation and changed its name to the Republic of Mali.

    In 1961, the black kanaga effigy in the centre of the flag was removed at the insistence of Muslim fundamentalists, who objected to having a depiction of the human form on the national flag. This left it with a flag that was not only super similar to Guinea’s, but actually identical to one that had just been adopted by the soon-to-be-independent Rwanda

  13. Bamileke National Movement, reported circa 1996

    This is a pretty slick flag, but comments on Wikipedia from actual Bamileke people make me think it may not actually exist. Or at least, it may not be as common as a google image search for “Bamileke flag” would suggest.

  14. Riograndense Republic

    The hilariously-named “Ragamuffin War” started on 20 September 1835. It began as an anti-tax revolt among the gauchos of Rio Grande do Sul, and within a year the province had declared itself independent from Brazil. The new country got some recognition from Uruguay but had little support elsewhere. It was joined by the neighbouring Juliana Republic in 1839 but that state collapsed in a matter of months. In 1845 the rebels were defeated and Brazil resumed control of the province.

    (designer: Tito Livio Zambeccari)

  15. 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)