Flags Unfurled: 30 Captivating Facts about Flags

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1Hawaii flag

Hawaii flag

The Hawaii state flag has existed in its current form since the islands were a monarchy, and was commissioned by King Kamehameha to resemble both the US and UK flag in order to avoid being dragged by either side into the War of 1812.

2. Using a white flag as a ruse to approach and attack an enemy is considered a war crime according to the law of war.

3. The reason so many African flags have green, yellow and red is because of the Ethiopian flag. As one of the few independent African nations during the colonial period, the new countries of Africa looked to them for inspiration.

4. The Olympic flag's colors are always red, black, blue, green, and yellow rings on a field of white. This is because at least one of those colors appears on the flag of every nation on the planet.

5. Liechtenstein and Haiti developed identical national flags independently of each other. No one realized until the two countries competed against each other in the 1936 Summer Olympics under the same flag.

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6Sears flag

Sears flag

The Flag that Apollo 11 astronauts planted on the moon was bought for $5.50 at Sears.

7. The French flag has uneven proportions in naval use. The blue, white, and red sections are 30%, 33%, and 37%, respectively, to counteract the illusion of size mismatch created when the flag is flapping (flapping makes the section opposite the halyard, the red section in this case, seem smaller).

8. The flag of Nepal, famous for being the only current national flag that isn't a quadrilateral, has its dimensions specified by law. The rectangle circumscribing the flag has an irrational ratio that is the least root of a quartic polynomial.

9. The Indonesian flag is nearly the same as the Dutch flag, but with the bottom third and blue strip removed. After 138 years of Dutch rule, youths removed a Dutch flag tore off the blue strip and re-hoisted it as an Indonesian flag in 1945 (War of Independence 1945-1949).

10. The quarantine flag also called the “Yellow Jack”, is an international signal flag that was last flown during the 2002-03 SARS outbreak (before COVID-19). The flag is flown from a ship that is either arriving in port with known serious health problems or that has been placed under quarantine.

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11Portugal flag

Portugal flag

The golden circle on the flag of Portugal represents an armillary sphere, a nautical device used by Portuguese sailors exploring unknown seas during the Age of Discoveries.

12. The first Olympic flag went missing for 77 years after the 1920 games until a 1920 olympian revealed he’d had it in his suitcase the whole time.

13. There are only 2 countries in the world whose flags contain neither red, white, nor blue: Jamaica and Mauritania.

14. The Canadian Flag that flies over the Peace Tower of the Canadian Parliament is changed daily. Used flags are then given away. Any Canadian resident may request one of these flags but the current waiting period is 63 years.

15. The American flag present on the deck of the USS Missouri during signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was the same flag that Commodore Matthew Perry flew when the U.S. Navy's Far East Squadron sailed into Tokyo Bay to force the opening of Japan's ports to foreign trade.

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16Turkish flag

Turkish flag

The star and crescent on the Turkish flag are unrelated to Islam. Instead, they represent the ancient Turkic sun and moon deities, Gün Ana, and Ay Ata.

17. When flown at half-staff, the American flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instance and then lowered to the half-staff position.

18. The symbol on the flag of Kyrgyzstan is what you see when you look up while inside a yurt.

19. The flag most often associated with the Confederate Flag is actually the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia.

20. The flag of Denmark is the oldest flag in the world still in use (since 1219).

21Argentinian flag

Argentinian flag

The Sun seen on many South American flags and coat of arms, such as Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, is a reference to the Incan god of the Sun, Inti.

22. The flags of Australia and New Zealand are so similar, the Prime Minister of Australia was greeted with the flag of New Zealand on a state visit to Canada in 1984.

23. India has the only national flag with restrictions over its material. The hand-spun khadi cloth must be cotton, silk, or wool; producing a flag without the specific khadi treading is a crime punishable by up to 3 years in jail and a fine.

24. "Plus Ultra" is on Spain's flag and coat of arms. It's a reversal of the Latin phrase "Non plus ultra" (Nothing further beyond) supposedly on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar. The motto ("Further beyond") was adopted after Columbus' discovery of the Americas.

25. The stars on the Brazilian flag, much like the ones on the American flag, reflect the current number of states Brazil has.

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