Donetsk Republic (proposed), since the 1990s
This is the other flag that’s been flying around Donetsk lately, and it too predates the current crisis. The colours are clearly based on the Russian model, but they’re given different meanings. Black for coal, blue for the Sea of Azov, and red for the memory of the 1918 Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic.
Wikipedia identifies a plain version of this tricolour as the flag of the that short-lived state, but as far as I know the flag was invented in the 90s. I can’t find any evidence of this flag being used as far back as 1918. And when you think about it, it wouldn’t really make sense. Why would a Soviet Republic use a flag based on the old Russian tricolour instead of a red flag? Why would the red stripe represent Donetsk-Krivoy Rog if the entire flag was based on that old republic’s flag?
Weirdly, the emblem on the shield in the centre of the flag is the Archangel Michael, which is most famously the emblem of Kiev. It’s weird how all the separatist flags have Ukrainian symbols embedded within them.
The arc of stars in the middle of Venezuela’s flag used to be arranged in a much less attractive ring. Before that it was an even less attractive clump. I imagine if you go back far enough you’d just find them in a big old heap.
I always thought Georgia’s old flag was better than its current one. The colour scheme and the composition were so unique, even though it was such a simple flag. The flag was based on the one used by Georgia from 1918 to 1921, which was basically the same except for its wider ratio.
(designer: Iakob Nikoladze)
Midway Atoll, since 2000
There are around 3 million birds on Midway and only 60 people, so it’s fitting that they have such a bird-centric flag. I also like how they have two slightly different shades of blue for the sea and the sky.
In the 1981 state election, the United Sabah National Organization was utterly crushed. They had already been in opposition since 1976, but this time they were reduced to a mere three seats out of 48. (The winning party had 44.) The new government stripped the state flag of USNO colours, replacing it with one that looked a lot like the Czechoslovakian flag. In 1988 the old pattern was restored, but the yellow stripe was removed and the green and brown colours were replaced with a second and third shade of blue.
East Indonesia, 1946-1950
After World War II, the Dutch established several Indonesian puppet states in a last ditch attempt to keep a hold on their former colony. By the end of 1948 there were six: East Sumatra, South Sumatra, Madura, Pasundan, East Java, and East Indonesia.
The five western states all had simple tricolour and bicolour flags with various combinations of green, white, and gold. East Indonesia was a bit of an exception. Its flag was the only one to actually include the national colours of red over white, although here too they were tempered by green and gold.
On 27 December 1949, the Dutch-backed states and the much larger Republic of Indonesia were united (along with various other territories and autonomous areas) under the aegis of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia. Over the next eight months, the states were dissolved into the Republic of Indonesia, which once again declared independence from the Netherlands on 17 August 1950.
Burma, 1939-1941, 1945-1948
Even though Burma didn’t become a separate colony until 1937, and didn’t officially get a badge until 1939, the peacock on a gold field had been used as an informal coat of arms since 1915. The design was based off old silver coins minted by the Konbaung Dynasty.
Peru-Bolivian Confederation, 1836-1839
There were actually two Perus in the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. The Republic of South Peru got an entirely new flag and coat of arms when it declared independence in 1836, but North Peru kept the old Peruvian state symbols. The coats of arms of the three constituent states were put together onto this kind of cluttered national flag.
Wiltshire, since 2009
Most of the recenty-adopted English county flags have been fairly traditional, but this one goes a bit beyond the standard heraldry toolkit. The curved stripes repesent the green downs of the country with the white chalk underneath them.
That bird in the centre is called the Great Bustard. What a name!
(designer: Helen Pocock)
British Virgin Islands, since 1999
"Vigilate" is latin for "be vigilant." Why is this not still a verb? Imagine telling someone to vigilate!
Tobago (proposed), 1977
Red represents the blood shed by slaves, black represents the country as a whole, and green represents nature. In the centre is a map of Tobago in gold, with the island’s motto beneath it.
Gotta say Tobago, Trinidad’s got you beat on this one.
(designer: Claudette Hector Daniel)
Tibet, since c.1925
Tibet’s flag wasn’t particularly well-known among Tibetans until after China took over. That’s because it was mainly an army flag, used as a national flag only when circumstances demanded it. It was not for example flown on government buildings.
It’s been said that the Japanese monk Aoki Bunkyo had a hand in designing the Tibetan flag, but by 1925 he had already been out of the country for almost a decade. It’s possible he helped design the earlier version, or that this flag is older than we think.
The Arab states in the Persian Gulf traditionally flew plain red flags. Under British rule, they started adding white decorations to differentiate themselves from one another. When Fujairah became fully independent from Sharjah it adopted a red flag with its name on it. In 1961 it reverted to a plain red flag and in 1975 it adopted the federal flag as its own.
Quintana Roo, since 2013
Most Mexican states don’t have official flags, although they occasionally fly white flags with the state coat of arms in the centre. The state of Quintana Roo became something like the third state to adopt an official flag and they chose… a white flag with the state coat of arms in the centre. Great.