1. Swedish-Danish Icebreaker Service

    Around World War II, Sweden and Denmark teamed up to form a Scandinavian icebreaking dream team. Their ships flew this triangular pennant made up of both their national colours. Much like the ice they once cleared, the two countries have since broken up.

     
  2. Colombian Air Force, ensign

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

     
  3. Santa Cruz de Mompox

    Okay come on now Mompox, you and I both know where you got the idea for this one.

     
  4. 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.

     
  5. 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])

     
  6. 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.

     
  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. Washitaw Nation

    If you’ve ever seen this flag anywhere, there’s a good chance it was on a fraudulent document or license plate. See, the Washitaw Nation is big on the whole sovereign citizen thing — the quite inaccurate idea that any individual can declare independence from their home country and live under their own separate sovereignty. If you’ve heard of “freemen on the land”, it’s basically the same deal. 

    The Washitaw claim to be a sovereign Black (or as they say, Moorish) Native American nation, a claim that has been roundly rejected by the American court system. They also claim that they’re the world’s oldest indigenous ethnic group, that they’ve been registered as such at the United Nations, that they’re descended from the inhabitants of the lost continent of Mu, that they built the mound city of Cahokia, and that the Atlantic Slave Trade either didn’t exist or actually went in the opposite direction. But hey, at least they’ve got a nice flag.

     
  10. Peru, 1825 proposal

    The Peruvian Congress put forward five proposals for a national flag before the current one was adopted in 1825. They all had a circle of eight somethings (for eight provinces) surrounding a different something. That central something was usually a sun but on one of the flags it was replaced by a Phrygian cap and on one of the flags the sun was on fire. (Try and figure that out.) The eight somethings were either stars or roses.

    In the end Simón Bolívar rejected the lot and a design almost identical to the existing flag was adopted. But the proposal above came back around a decade later to inspire the flag of the short lived Republic of South Peru.

     
  11. Wyoming, since 1917

    Wyoming: It’s where the bison are.

    (designer: Verna Keays)

     
  12. 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. 

     
  13. 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.

     
  14. Sétif Uprising, 1945

    Green, white and red have been associated with Algerian nationalism since the 1920s, but how they were arranged before independence wasn’t always constant. These are two examples of Algerian national flags captured during an anticolonial revolt in Sétif. The hand on the second flag was comes from a flag flown by Emir Abd el-Kader in the 19th century.

     
  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.