There are 195 countries in the world, which means there are also 195 distinct national flags. A flag is a sacred item with a distinctive design and colour that has existed for hundreds of years and is honoured all across the world.
National flags are more than simply a piece of fabric as each form and colour has a distinct meaning which symbolises the country’s history, culture, people, struggles, and future resolutions.
Flagging the Facts
Flag trivia is a lot more interesting than you’d have thought! Here are some fantastic facts about the flags that will leave you wanting to know more.
1. The Olympic Flag
In 1920, the first Olympic flag suddenly went missing at the end of the games for 77 years. Until 101-year old ex-Olympian, Hal Haig Prieste finally revealed in an interview that he had stolen the flag as a prank after the games and popped it in his luggage, where it remained in hiding until his 1997 revelation.
He returned the flag to the International Olympic Committee 3 years later during the 2000 Olympics. The committee presented him with a plaque thanking him for “donating” the flag that he had stolen from them all those years ago.
2. Flag that Doesn’t Have 4 Sides
Nepal is the only country in the world that doesn’t have a standard rectangular flag. The flag is made up of two triangular shapes that represent mountains and reflect Nepal’s two major religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. On August 23, 2014, Nepal was made the Guinness Book of World Record for creating the world’s biggest human flag with the help of 35,000 people.
3. Two Square-Shaped Flags in the World
Switzerland and the Vatican City are the only two countries with square-shaped flags in the world. Switzerland’s national flag is sometimes mistaken with the flag of the International Red Cross (Red Cross on a white background), which is headquartered in the country’s capital. In Switzerland, it is unusual to see people dressed in national flag-themed clothing.
The Vatican City is the world’s smallest country in both size and population. That is why it’s one of the world’s most instantly recognisable flags. The Vatican City, which is home to the Pope, is a country with a strong religious belief. The patterns and colours on their flag represent the strongest symbols of the Pope.
4. Twin Flags from Different Countries
During the 1936 Olympics ceremony, two countries Haiti and Liechtenstein discovered they were using the same flag, which was a little awkward. The national flag of Haiti, which was used for athletic events, had horizontal blue and red stripes like Liechtenstein’s. After the resemblance was discovered and to avoid further embarrassment, Liechtenstein added a gold crown to their flag.
5. Rarest Colour Found on a Flag
There are only two flags in the world that have the colour purple on them! Only two countries include it in their palette – Dominica, and Nicaragua. In each of these flags, you have to look carefully for the colour purple as it is used sparingly.
This is due to two primary factors: Purple dye was too expensive to include in flag designs for centuries and was difficult to manufacture. Also, purple has a long history of being associated with royalty or wealth, making it a risky colour for the countries to promote.
6. Mixing Up the Neighbours
The flags of Australia and New Zealand have a lot in common. They’re so close that when Prime Minister Bob Hawke visited Canada in 1984, he was greeted with the New Zealand flag. Former New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys had a similar problem with the Australian flag, and the debate for a new flag in both nations continues.
The only difference is that New Zealand’s flag features 5-point stars and are red with white outlining, while Australian flag has 7-point stars in white.
7. National Flag with an AK-47
The Mozambican flag has been the topic of discussion since it is the only flag in the world with a symbol of a modern weapon. Many argue that the weapon represents violence and civil war, and it should be removed entirely from the flag.
A competition was held in 2005 to design a new flag for the country, and over 100 designs were submitted. A new flag was chosen, but nothing has changed since then.
8. Oldest Flag in the World
Although Danish homeware designs are cutting-edge, the country’s flag has been unchanged since 1219 and is therefore over 800 years old. The Danes won a battle in Estonia in 1219 after witnessing the flag fall from the sky as a message from above, giving the warriors renewed energy to fight. In contrast to Afghanistan, which has changed its flag 19 times since 1928, the flag holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest continuously used national flag.
9. The Australian National Flag
The Australian Flag is known to be the first and the only flag to be chosen in an open public competition. An international competition was held to design the country’s flag and out of 30,000 submissions, the Australian flag was created by combining five almost identical designs. 1 of the 5 people credited with the design of the Australian national flag was a Victorian schoolboy.
10. Flag of Surrender
White flags have been considered as a surrender signal since Ancient Roman times. Although we can’t be 100% certain, historians believe that the colour choice was made as per convenience. As white clothes were easily accessible in the ancient world and were considered highly visible.
Today, the white flag is not just considered as a sign of surrender but also symbolises the wish to negotiate.