It might be difficult to trace the exact origins of any flag from across the globe because many of them lack concrete histories. Several of the earliest flags have legends as their history, which may or may not be historically accurate.
The date on which most countries adopted their flags is evident and easily traceable. However, because the flag’s design has evolved, the dates in various countries have been challenged and merely estimated.
Before being adopted as national flags, some of the flags may have been used for other purposes. For millennia, several countries have used the same flag.
Take a look at some of the world’s oldest flags.
1. Denmark (1370)
Denmark’s flag is the world’s oldest. Since 1370, the flag has been flying. It’s also known as the Dannebrog or Danish Cloth.
The flag has been acknowledged as the world’s longest continuously used national flag by the Guinness Book of World Records.
According to mythology, the flag is said to have fallen from the sky during a fight at Lyndanisse, Estonia. In comparison, the narrative may have started about 1500.
According to evidence, between 1340 and 1370, the Danish used a crimson flag with a white cross.
On top of the red flag is a white Scandinavian cross. The white cross represents Christianity, which is Denmark’s primary religion.
2. Scotland (1542)
Scotland’s flag dates from the early 16th century. In 1503, 1512, and 1542, the Saint Andrew’s Cross was mentioned as a flag. On the other hand, the flag’s design may have been used even earlier.
According to mythology, King Angus Mac Fergus begged God to help defeat the Angles, who Athelstan headed. As a result, clouds formed a white diagonal cross against the blue sky on the battle morning.
The flag comprises light blue with a white cross, symbolizing Scotland’s patron saint, Saint Andrew’s crucifixion. This picture has been used since the late 14th century.
Many historians believe that the Scottish adopted the Saltire about 832 CE. However, no solid evidence or historical documents indicate the cross of St Andrew was utilized as a symbol during this period. The first documented use of St Andrew as a national symbol originates from around 1286.
In addition, the cross of St Andrew first appeared on flags in the late 14th century. Regardless of when St Andrew’s cross was first used, the Scottish flag is one of the oldest flags in the world.
3. Netherlands (1572)
The Netherlands’ current flag has been in use since 1572. It looks a lot like the Luxembourg flag. From top to bottom, the flag is a horizontal combination of white, red, and blue.
Initially, the flag was orange, white, and blue. The orange color was gradually phased out in favor of the current red. The orange hue was changed because red was seen in the sea.
The Prince’s Flag is its official name because it was initially used when Prince William led the Dutch resistance against the Spanish. Prince William of Orange’s heraldic colors is red, white, and blue.
After 1630, the top orange strip was replaced with a crimson stripe. The color shift could have resulted from the orange dye fading to red over time.
According to the CIA Factbook, the Dutch flag is also the oldest tricolor in continuous use. The fact that most of the first flags only had two colors helps to support this notion.
4. Nepal (1743)
Since 1743, Nepal has had a flag. It’s also the world’s only non-quadrilateral flag. It’s made up of two blood-red pennons that overlap.
Nepal’s national flower, the rhododendron, inspired the flag’s hue. The Nepalese red color symbolizes their bravery, while the blue edges symbolize peace.
A crescent moon appears in the upper triangle, while a white twelve-pointed sun appears in the lower larger triangle. The moon, the Sun, and other celestial bodies signify the hope of eternal prosperity. The pennons symbolize the Himalayas.
5. United Kingdom (1801)
Since 1801 the United Kingdom flag has flown. “The Union Jack” is how it is generally known to. Some Commonwealth countries, like Canada, use it as a semi-official or ceremonial flag.
The British Overseas Territories’ national flag is also the same. On the cantons of some British Dominions, the Union Jack can be seen.
The red cross of Saint George (England) is overlaid on the cross of Saint Patrick (Ireland) over the Saltire of Saint Andrew to symbolize the three saints of the United Kingdom (Scotland). The Welsh flag is not represented.
6. Chile (1817)
Since 1817, Chile has flown its national flag. The flag comprises two equal horizontal white and red stripes with a white top. On the canton, there is a blue square. A white five-pointed star adorns the blue square. “The Lone Star” or “La Estrella Solitaria” are two other names for the flag.
The sky and the Pacific Ocean are blue, while the snow-capped Andes are represented by white. The color red represents the blood spilled during the American Revolutionary War. The white star symbolizes honor and development.
7. Argentina (1818)
Argentina’s national flag was adopted in 1818. Three horizontal stripes of baby blue on top and bottom, with white in the center, make up the flag. May’s Sun is depicted in the center of the white stripe. During the War of 1812 for Independence, the flag was flown.
The Sun of May was not on the flag at the time. Until 1818, the May Sun was added to the flag. The color blue signifies the sky, while white indicates peace and harmony. May’s Sun symbolizes the Argentines’ desire to maintain independence and freedom.
The Official Ceremonial Flag is a full flag with the Sun in the center. The Ornamental Flag is defined as a flag without the Sun. While both forms of the national flag are regarded as equal, the ornamental version must always be flown below the Official Ceremony Flag.
8. Peru (1825)
Since 1825, Peru’s flag has been flying. The colonial-era Spanish flag flew over Peru during the Viceroyalty of Peru. During the war for independence in 1820, British-born General William Miller raised the first flag to represent the fledgling country in Tacna.
Though the original flag is no longer in existence, it was described as navy blue with a golden sun signifying Inti defiled on it.
The Peruvian national coat of arms lies in the middle of the white band. Therefore, it’s known as “The Bicolor Band” since it’s made up of two colors.
The color red represents the bloodshed by the freedom fighters. On the other hand, white symbolizes the Peruvians’ desire for peace and harmony. A llama and a cinchona tree, Peru’s national symbols, appear on the coat of arms on the flag.
9. Uruguay (1828)
In 1828, Uruguay’s national flag was approved. “Pabellon Nacional” is how the flag is generally referred to. Nine horizontal white and blue stripes alternate on the banner.
The “Sun of May” is emblazoned on a white canton. Sixteen beams make up the Sun. It had 19 stripes when it was adopted. The number of lines was cut to nine on July 11, 1830. The nine bars reflect Uruguay’s original nine departments. May’s Sun is symbolic of new world order.
10. France (1830)
In 1830, France’s current flag was approved. Lafayette and Jacques Louis David collaborated on the banner. The hoist side is blue, the middle is white, and the fly side is red. France’s traditional hue, according to Lafayette, was white.
It was added to the red and blue of the French militia’s cockade during the French Revolution. In Europe, the multicolored flag is well-known. The tricolor, or ‘Tricolore’ in French, is the official name for the flag.
Because of its popularity, the design was copied by other countries. As the Napoleon Army Flag, it was first used in 1794.
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