The Info List - Flag

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A flag is a piece of fabric (most often rectangular or quadrilateral) with a distinctive design and colors. It is used as a symbol, a signaling device, or for decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed, and flags have evolved into a general tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in environments where communication is challenging (such as the maritime environment, where semaphore is used). The study of flags is known as "vexillology" from the Latin
vexillum, meaning "flag" or "banner". National flags are patriotic symbols with widely varied interpretations that often include strong military associations because of their original and ongoing use for that purpose. Flags are also used in messaging, advertising, or for decorative purposes. Some military units are called "flags" after their use of flags. A flag (Arabic: لواء) is equivalent to a brigade in Arab countries. In Spain, a flag (Spanish: bandera) is a battalion-equivalent in the Spanish Legion.


1 History 2 National flags

2.1 Civil flags 2.2 War flags 2.3 International flags

3 At sea 4 Shapes and designs

4.1 Parts of a flag 4.2 Vertical flags

5 Religious flags 6 Linguistic flags 7 Related flags

7.1 Pan-Arab colours 7.2 Pan-Slavic colours 7.3 The Nordic Cross 7.4 Flag
of Liberia 7.5 Red

8 In sports 9 Diplomatic flags 10 In politics 11 Disability flags 12 Vehicle flags 13 Swimming flags 14 Railway flags 15 Flagpoles

15.1 Record heights 15.2 Design

16 Hoisting the flag 17 Flags in communication 18 Flapping 19 See also 20 References 21 External links

History[edit] Further information: Vexilloid, Heraldic flag, and Royal Standard

This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources. (May 2014)

Bronze flag found in Shahdad, Iran, 3rd millennium BC

In antiquity, field signs or standards were used in warfare that can be categorized as vexilloid or 'flag-like'. Examples include the Sassanid
battle standard Derafsh Kaviani, and the standards of the Roman legions such as the eagle of Augustus Caesar's Xth legion, or the dragon standard of the Sarmatians; the latter was let fly freely in the wind, carried by a horseman, but judging from depictions it was more similar to an elongated dragon kite than to a simple flag. During the High Middle Ages, flags came to be used primarily as a heraldic device in battle, allowing more easily to identify a knight than only from the heraldic device painted on the shield. Already during the high medieval period, and increasingly during the Late Middle Ages, city states and communes such as those of the Old Swiss Confederacy also began to use flags as field signs. Regimental flags for individual units became commonplace during the Early Modern period.

of Eo Jae-yeon, captured in 1871

During the peak of the age of sail, beginning in the early 17th century, it was customary (and later a legal requirement) for ships to carry flags designating their nationality;[1] these flags eventually evolved into the national flags and maritime flags of today. Flags also became the preferred means of communications at sea, resulting in various systems of flag signals; see, International maritime signal flags. Use of flags outside of military or naval context begins only with the rise of nationalist sentiment by the end of the 18th century; the earliest national flags date to that period, and during the 19th century it became common for every sovereign state to introduce a national flag.[citation needed]

Flags at half-mast outside Central Plaza, Hong Kong, after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The Flag of Saudi Arabia
Flag of Saudi Arabia
is exempted.

National flags[edit] Main article: National flag

Tribal flags at Meeting Place Monument/ Flag
Plaza at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

One of the most popular uses of a flag is to symbolize a nation or country. Some national flags have been particularly inspirational to other nations, countries, or subnational entities in the design of their own flags. Some prominent examples include:

The Danish national flag (Dannebrog) waving in Samsø.

The flag of Denmark, the Dannebrog, is attested in 1478, and is the oldest national flag still in use. It inspired the cross design of the other Nordic countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and regional Scandinavian flags for the Faroe Islands, Åland, Scania and Bornholm, as well as flags for the non-Scandinavian Shetland and Orkney.[2] The flag of the Netherlands is the oldest tricolour. Its three colours of red, white and blue go back to Charlemagne's time, the 9th century. The coastal region of what today is the Netherlands was then known for its cloth in these colours. Maps from the early 16th century already put flags in these colours next to this region, like Texeira's map of 1520. A century before that, during the 15th century, the three colours were mentioned as the coastal signals for this area, with the three bands straight or diagonal, single or doubled. As state flag it first appeared around 1572 as the Prince's Flag
Prince's Flag
in orange–white–blue. Soon the more famous red–white–blue began appearing, becoming the prevalent version from around 1630. Orange made a comeback during the civil war of the late 18th century, signifying the orangist or pro-stadtholder party. During World War II the pro-Nazi NSB used it. Any symbolism has been added later to the three colours, although the orange comes from the House of Orange-Nassau. This use of orange comes from Nassau, which today uses orange-blue, not from Orange, which today uses red-blue. However, the usual way to show the link with the House of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
is the orange pennant above the red-white-blue.

It is said that the Dutch Tricolour has inspired[citation needed] many flags but most notably those of Russia, New York City, and South Africa
(the 1928–94 flag as well the current flag). As the probable inspiration for the Russian flag, it is the source too for the Pan-Slavic colours
Pan-Slavic colours
red, white and blue, adopted by many Slavic states and peoples as their symbols; examples are Slovakia, Serbia, and Slovenia.

The national flag of France
was designed in 1794. As a forerunner of revolution, France's tricolour flag style has been adopted by other nations. Examples: Italy, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Haiti[citation needed], Romania and Mexico.[citation needed] The Union Flag
Union Flag
(Union Jack) of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
is the most commonly used. British colonies typically flew a flag based on one of the ensigns based on this flag, and many former colonies have retained the design to acknowledge their cultural history. Examples: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tuvalu, and also the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia, and the American state of Hawaii; see commons:Flags based on British ensigns. The flag of the United States
United States
is nicknamed The Stars and Stripes or Old Glory. Some nations imitated this flag so as to symbolize their similarity to the United States
United States
and/or the American Revolution. Examples: Liberia, Chile, Uruguay[citation needed], Taiwan (ROC), Malaysia and the French region of Brittany.

The Flag
of Ethiopia's colours inspired the colours of many African national flags.

was seen as a model by emerging African states of the 1950s and 1960s, as it was one of the oldest independent states in Africa. Accordingly, its flag became the source of the Pan-African colours, or 'Rasta colours'. Examples: Benin, Togo, Senegal, Ghana, Mali, Guinea. The flag of Turkey, which is very similar to the last flag of the old Ottoman Empire, has been an inspiration for the flag designs of many other Muslim nations. During the time of the Ottomans the crescent began to be associated with Islam
and this is reflected on the flags of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Libya, Mauritania, Pakistan and Tunisia.

The flag of the Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt
of 1916 inspired the flags of many Arab states.

The Pan-Arab colours, green, white, red and black, are derived from the flag of the Great Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt
as seen on the flags of Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine. The Soviet flag, with its golden symbols of the hammer and sickle on a red field, was an inspiration to flags of other communist states, such as East Germany, People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan (1978–1980) and Mozambique. The flag of Venezuela, created by Francisco de Miranda
Francisco de Miranda
to represent the independence movement in Venezuela that later gave birth to the "Gran Colombia", inspired the flags of Colombia, Ecuador, and the Federal Territories in Malaysia, all sharing three bands of yellow, blue and red with the flag of Venezuela. The flag of Argentina, created by Manuel Belgrano
Manuel Belgrano
during the war of independence, was the inspiration for the United Provinces of Central America's flag, which in turn was the origin for the flags of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

National flag
National flag
designs are often used to signify nationality in other forms, such as flag patches. Civil flags[edit] Main article: Civil flag A civil flag is a version of the national flag that is flown by civilians on non-government installations or craft. The use of civil flags was more common in the past, in order to denote buildings or ships that were not manned by the military. In some countries the civil flag is the same as the war flag or state flag, but without the coat of arms, such as in the case of Spain, and in others it's an alteration of the war flag. War flags[edit] Main articles: War flag
War flag
and Colours, standards and guidons

Standing for the UK's Royal Air Force, the Ensign
of the RAF displays the RAF roundel.

Several countries (including the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and the Soviet Union) have had unique flags flown by their armed forces, rather than the national flag. Other countries' armed forces (such as those of the United States
United States
or Switzerland) use their standard national flag. The Philippines' armed forces may use their standard national flag, but during times of war the flag is turned upside down. Bulgaria's flag is also turned upside down during times of war. These are also considered war flags, though the terminology only applies to the flag's military usage. Large versions of the war flag flown on the warships of countries' navies are known as battle ensigns. In war waving a white flag is a banner of truce or surrender. Four distinctive African flags currently in the collection of the National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum
in Britain were flown in action by Itsekiri ships under the control of Nana Olomu
Nana Olomu
during conflict in the late 19th century. One is the flag generally known as the Benin flag and one is referred to as Nana Olomu's flag.[3]

The Flag
of the United Nations

International flags[edit] Among international flags are the Flag
of the United Nations, the Olympic flag, and the Paralympic flag. At sea[edit] Main article: Maritime flag

The international maritime signal flag Delta (letter D)

Flags are flown on boats to indicate the country of registration of the boat.

Flags are particularly important at sea, where they can mean the difference between life and death, and consequently where the rules and regulations for the flying of flags are strictly enforced. A national flag flown at sea is known as an ensign. A courteous, peaceable merchant ship or yacht customarily flies its ensign (in the usual ensign position), together with the flag of whatever nation it is currently visiting at the mast (known as a courtesy flag). To fly one's ensign alone in foreign waters, a foreign port or in the face of a foreign warship traditionally indicates a willingness to fight, with cannon, for the right to do so. As of 2009, this custom is still taken seriously by many naval and port authorities and is readily enforced in many parts of the world by boarding, confiscation and other civil penalties. In some countries yacht ensigns are different from merchant ensigns in order to signal that the yacht is not carrying cargo that requires a customs declaration. Carrying commercial cargo on a boat with a yacht ensign is deemed to be smuggling in many jurisdictions. There is a system of international maritime signal flags for numerals and letters of the alphabet. Each flag or pennant has a specific meaning when flown individually. As well, semaphore flags can be used to communicate on an ad hoc basis from ship to ship over short distances. Traditionally, a vessel flying under the courtesy flag of a specific nation, regardless of the vessel's country of registry, is considered to be operating under the law of her 'host' nation. Another category of maritime flag flown by some United States Government ships is the distinguishing mark. Although the United States Coast Guard has its own service ensign, all other U.S. Government ships fly the national ensign their service ensign, following United States
United States
practice. To distinguish themselves from ships of the Navy, such ships historically have flown their parent organisation's flag from a forward mast as a distinguishing mark. Today, for example, commissioned ships of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fly the NOAA flag as a distinguishing mark. Shapes and designs[edit]

The Ohio burgee

The flag of Nepal, a national flag that is not rectangular

The flag of Kiribati, a banner of arms

Flags are usually rectangular in shape (often in the ratio 2:3, 1:2, or 3:5), but may be of any shape or size that is practical for flying, including square, triangular, or swallow tailed. A more unusual flag shape is that of the flag of Nepal, which is in the shape of two stacked triangles. Other unusual flag shapes include the flag of Ohio and the flag of Tampa. Many flags are dyed through and through to be inexpensive to manufacture, such that the reverse side is the mirror image of the obverse (front) side, generally the side displayed when, from the observer's point of view, the flag flies from pole-side left to right. This presents two possibilities:

If the design is symmetrical in an axis parallel to the flag pole, obverse and reverse will be identical despite the mirror-reversal, such as the Indian Flag
or Canadian Flag If not, the obverse and reverse will present two variants of the same design, one with the hoist on the left (usually considered the obverse side), the other with the hoist on the right (usually considered the reverse side of the flag). This is very common and usually not disturbing if there is no text in the design.

Some complex flag designs are not intended to be shown on both sides, requiring separate obverse and reverse sides if made correctly. In these cases there is a design element (usually text) which is not symmetric and should be read in the same direction, regardless of whether the hoist is to the viewer's left or right. These cases can be divided into two types:

The same (asymmetric) design may be duplicated on both sides. Such flags can be manufactured by creating two identical through and through flags and then sewing them back to back, though this can affect the resulting combination's responsiveness to the wind. Depictions of such flags may be marked with the symbol , indicating the reverse is congruent to (rather than a mirror image of) the obverse. Rarely, the reverse design may differ, in whole or in part, from that of the obverse. Examples of flags whose reverse differs from the obverse include the flag of Paraguay, the flag of Oregon, and the historical flag of the Soviet Union. Depictions of such flags may be marked with the symbol .

Common designs on flags include crosses, stripes, and divisions of the surface, or field, into bands or quarters—patterns and principles mainly derived from heraldry. A heraldic coat of arms may also be flown as a banner of arms, as is done on both the state flag of Maryland and the flag of Kiribati. The de jure flag of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, which consisted of a rectangular field of green, was for a long period the only national flag using a single colour and no design or insignia. However, other historical states have also used flags without designs or insignia, such as the Soviet Republic of Hungary, whose flag was a plain field of red. Colours are normally described with common names, such as "red", but may be further specified using colorimetry. The largest flag flown from a flagpole worldwide, according to Guinness World Records, is the flag of Mexico
flown in Piedras Negras, Mexico. This flag was about 2,058 m2 (22,150 sq ft).[4] The largest flag ever made was the flag of Qatar; the flag, which measures at 101,978 m2 (1,097,680 sq ft), was completed in December 2013 in Doha.[5] Parts of a flag[edit] Main article: Glossary of vexillology The general parts of a flag are: canton—the upper inner section of the flag; field or ground—the entire flag except the canton, and the field and hoist ends; fly end—the furthest edge from the hoist end; and hoist end—the edge used to attach the flag to the hoist.[6] Vertical flags[edit] Vertical flags are sometimes used in lieu of the standard horizontal flag in central and eastern Europe, particularly in the German-speaking countries. This practice came about because the relatively brisk wind needed to display horizontal flags is not common in these countries.[7]

The standard horizontal flag (no. 1 in the preceding illustration) is nonetheless the form most often used even in these countries.[8] The vertical flag (German: Hochformatflagge or Knatterflagge; no. 2) is a vertical form of the standard flag. The flag's design may remain unchanged (No. 2a) or it may change, e.g. by changing horizontal stripes to vertical ones (no. 2b). If the flag carries an emblem, it may remain centered or may be shifted slightly upwards.[7][9] The vertical flag for hoisting from a beam (German: Auslegerflagge or Galgenflagge; no. 3) is additionally attached to a horizontal beam, ensuring that it is fully displayed even if there is no wind.[7][10] The vertical flag for hoisting from a horizontal pole (German: Hängeflagge; no. 4) is hoisted from a horizontal pole, normally attached to a building. The topmost stripe on the horizontal version of the flag faces away from the building.[7][11] The vertical flag for hoisting from a crossbar or banner (German: Bannerflagge; no. 5) is firmly attached to a horizontal crossbar from which it is hoisted, either by a vertical pole (no. 5a) or a horizontal one (no. 5b). The topmost stripe on the horizontal version of the flag normally faces to the left.[7][12] Religious flags[edit] See also: Religion in national symbols

Poland (Gorzów Wlkp.). Religious flag

Jain – Five-Coloured Flag

Flags can play many different roles in religion. In Buddhism, prayer flags are used, usually in sets of five differently coloured flags. Many national flags and other flags include religious symbols such as the cross, the crescent, or a reference to a patron saint. Flags are also adopted by religious groups and flags such as the Jain flag, Sikh flag, sindhi flag and the Christian flag
Christian flag
are used to represent a whole religion. Linguistic flags[edit]

of La Francophonie

of Hispanicity

of Esperanto

As languages rarely have a flag designed to represent them,[13] it is a common but unofficial practice to use national flags to identify them. The practice is discouraged[14] and can be irritating[15][16] and because flags tend to evoke feelings other than the intended meaning. Examples of such use include:

representing language skills of an individual, like a staff member of a company displaying available languages on a multilingual website or software.

Though this can be done in an uncontroversial manner in some cases, this can easily lead to some problems for certain languages:

languages generating language secessionism, such as Serbo-Croatian which since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, has lost its unitary codification and its official unitary status and is now divided into four official languages: Croatian language, Bosnian language, Serbian language and the Montenegrin language languages spoken in more than one country, such as English or Arabic.

In this second case, common solutions include symbolising these languages by:

the flag of the country where the language originated the flag of the country having the largest number of native speakers a mixed flag of the both (when this is not the same) the flag of the country most identified with that language in a specific region (e.g. Portuguese Language: Flag of Portugal
Flag of Portugal
in Europe and Flag
of Brazil in South America). A Portugal-Brazil mixed flag, usually divided diagonally, is also a possibility.

Thus, on the Internet, it is common to see the English language associated with the flag of the United Kingdom, or sometimes the flag of England, the flag of the United States
United States
or a U.S.-UK mixed flag, usually divided diagonally.

Related flags[edit] Since many flags have a simple design, there is bound to be cases of flags with similar designs. From 1948 to 1989, the flag of Romania had an insignia in the middle of the tricolour flag. In 1989 the insignia was removed, reverting Romania's flag back to an earlier version. This version matched the design which had been adopted by Chad in 1959. This has concerned the Chadian government, and in 2004 they requested that the United Nations
United Nations
should consider it an issue. In response, the Romanian President Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu
stated to the media, "The tricolour belongs to us. We will not give up the tricolour".[17] In certain cases, flag similarities are not coincidental, but the result of a conscious choice. Pan-Arab colours[edit]

of the Arab Revolt, used in Hejaz[18][19]

The Pan-Arab colours
Pan-Arab colours
black, white, green, and red are first known from the flag of the Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt
in 1916.[20] The colours were intended to represent certain Arab dynasties.[21] Countries currently using flags with all four Pan-Arab colours
Pan-Arab colours
include Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine and Sudan; several other Arab states use a subset. Pan-Slavic colours[edit] The tricolor flag of Russia, inspired by the flag of the Netherlands,[22] was introduced in the late 17th century. Based on this flag, the first Pan-Slav congress defined the Pan-Slavic colours red, blue and white.[23] Among former and current countries beside Russia
using flags with these colours, are Yugoslavia and the successor states Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia as well as the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Nordic Cross[edit]

Nordic flags

The oldest flag of the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
is the flag of Denmark with a description dating from 1748.[24] The design has a cross symbol in a rectangular field, with the center of the cross shifted towards the hoist. This basic design is called Nordic cross and has been adopted by the other Nordic countries
Nordic countries
Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as the dependent territories of Faroe Islands and Åland. Similar flags are also used as regional flags, most prominently the semi-official flag of Scania.[25] The design has also been used outside the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
in order to underline a cultural connection. Examples are Shetland and Orkney. Flag
of Liberia[edit] Liberia
was founded by freed African-American
and ex- Caribbean
slaves as settlers from the United States
United States
and the Caribbean.[26] When Liberia gained independence in 1847, the flag of the new state was modelled on the national flag of the United States,[27] although the symbolism of the elements were differently interpreted.[28][29] Red

The Red

The Red
on white background as a protection symbol was declared at the First Geneva Convention
First Geneva Convention
in 1864. The emblem was formed by reversing the colours of the Swiss flag out of respect to Switzerland.[30] In sports[edit] Because of their ease of signalling and identification, flags are often used in sports.

In association football, linesmen carry small flags along the touch lines. They use the flags to indicate to the referee potential infringements of the laws, or who is entitled to possession of the ball that has gone out of the field of play, or, most famously, raising the flag to indicate an offside offence. Officials called touch judges use flags for similar purposes in both codes of rugby. In American and Canadian football, referees use penalty flags to indicate that a foul has been committed in game play. The phrase used for such an indication is flag on the play. The flag itself is a small, weighted handkerchief, tossed on the field at the approximate point of the infraction; the intent is usually to sort out the details after the current play from scrimmage has concluded. In American football, the flag is usually yellow; in Canadian football, it is usually orange. In the National Football League, coaches also use red challenge flags to indicate that they wish to contest a ruling on the field. In yacht racing, flags are used to communicate information from the race committee boat to the racers. Different flags hoisted from the committee boat may communicate a false start, changes in the course, a cancelled race, or other important information. Racing boats themselves may also use flags to symbolize a protest or distress. The flags are often part of the nautical alphabetic system of International maritime signal flags, in which 26 different flags designate the 26 letters of the Latin

Flags flown at a car race

In auto and motorcycle racing, racing flags are used to communicate with drivers. Most famously, a checkered flag of black and white squares indicates the end of the race, and victory for the leader. A yellow flag is used to indicate caution requiring slow speed and a red flag requires racers to stop immediately. A black flag is used to indicate penalties.

Main article: Racing flags

In addition, fans of almost all sports wave flags in the stands to indicate their support for the participants. Many sports teams have their own flags, and, in individual sports, fans will indicate their support for a player by waving the flag of his or her home country. Capture the flag
Capture the flag
is a popular children's sport. In Gaelic football
Gaelic football
and Hurling
a green flag is used to indicate a goal while a white flag is used to indicate a point In Australian rules football, the goal umpire will wave two flags to indicate a goal (worth six points) and a single flag to indicate a behind (worth one point). For safety, dive flags indicate the locations of underwater scuba divers or that diving operations are being conducted in the vicinity. In water sports such as Wakeboarding and Water-Skiing, an orange flag is held in between runs to indicate someone is in the water. In golf, the hole is almost always marked with a flag. The flagpole is designed to fit centered within the base of the hole and is removable. Many courses will use colour-coded flags to determine a hole location at the front, middle or rear of the green. However colour-coded flags are not used in the professional tours. (A rare example of a golf course that does not use flags to mark the hole is the East Course of Merion Golf
Club, which instead uses flagpoles topped by wicker baskets.) Flag
poles with flags of all shapes and sizes are used by marching bands, drum corps, and winter guard teams use flags as a method of visual enhancement in performances.

Diplomatic flags[edit] Main article: Diplomatic flag Some countries use diplomatic flags, such as the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
(see Image of the Embassy flag) and the Kingdom of Thailand
(see Image of the Embassy flag). In politics[edit]

The Rainbow flag
Rainbow flag
of the LGBT
social movement. Similar flags are used in Europe to support pacifism and in Peru and Bolivia to represent the indigenous peoples of the Andes.

Social and political movements have adopted flags, to increase their visibility and as a unifying symbol. The socialist movement uses red flags to represent their cause. The anarchist movement has a variety of different flags, but the primary flag associated with them is the black flag. In the Spanish civil war, the anarchists used the red-and-black bisected flag. In the 20th century, the rainbow flag was adopted as a symbol of the LGBT
social movements. Its derivatives include the Bisexual pride and transgender pride flags. Some of these political flags have become national flags, such as the red flag of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and national socialist banners for Nazi Germany. The present Flag of Portugal
Flag of Portugal
is based on what had been the political flag of the Portuguese Republican Party previous to the 5 October 1910 revolution which brought this party to power. Disability flags[edit] Some disability advocacy groups have adopted flags to raise awareness of their causes. The Epilepsy Awareness Flag
includes a prominent lowercase letter 'e' on a white background.[31] When the World Federation of the Deaf
adopted its own flag,[32] this action caused some controversy within the deaf community due to the popularity of another flag which was already being flown by many deaf people and related organisations. Vehicle flags[edit] Flags are often representative of an individual's affinity or allegiance to a country, team or business and can be presented in various ways. A popular trend that has surfaced revolves around the idea of the 'mobile' flag in which an individual displays their particular flag of choice on their vehicle. These items are commonly referred to as car flags and are usually manufactured from high strength polyester material and are attached to a vehicle via a polypropylene pole and clip window attachment. Swimming flags[edit]

Open swimming area

Closed swimming area

In Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom, a pair of red-yellow flags is used to mark the limits of the bathing area on a beach, usually guarded by surf lifesavers. If the beach is closed, the poles of the flags are crossed. The flags are coloured with a red triangle and a yellow triangle making a rectangular flag, or a red rectangle over a yellow rectangle. On many Australian beaches there is a slight variation with beach condition signaling. A red flag signifies a closed beach (in the UK also other dangers), yellow signifies strong current or difficult swimming conditions, and green represents a beach safe for general swimming. In Ireland, a red and yellow flag indicates that it is safe to swim; a red flag that it is unsafe; and no flag indicates that there are no lifeguards on duty. Blue
flags may also be used away from the yellow-red lifesaver area to designate a zone for surfboarding and other small, non-motorised watercraft. Reasons for closing the beach include:

dangerous rip hurricane warning no lifeguards in attendance overpolluted water sharks tsunami waves too strong

A surf flag exists, divided into four quadrants. The top left and bottom right quadrants are black, and the remaining area is white. Signal flag "India" (a black circle on a yellow square) is frequently used to denote a "blackball" zone where surfboards cannot be used but other water activities are permitted. Railway flags[edit] Railways use a number of coloured flags. When used as wayside signals they usually use the following meanings (exact meanings are set by the individual railroad company):

red = stop yellow = proceed with care green or white = proceed. a flag of any colour waved vigorously means stop a blue flag on the side of a locomotive means that it should not be moved because someone is working on it (or on the train attached to it). A blue flag on a track means that nothing on that track should be moved. The flag can only be removed by the person or group that placed it. In the railway dominated steel industry this principle of "blue flag and tag" was extended to all operations at Bethlehem Steel, Lackawanna, NY. If a man went inside a large machine or worked on an electrical circuit for example, his blue flag and tag was sacrosanct.[33] The "Lock Out/Tag Out" practice is similar and now used in other industries to comply with safety regulations.

At night, the flags are replaced with lanterns showing the same colours. Flags displayed on the front of a moving locomotive are an acceptable replacement for classification lights and usually have the following meanings (exact meanings are set by the individual railroad company):

white = extra (not on the timetable) green = another section following red = last section

Additionally, a railroad brakeman will typically carry a red flag to make his or her hand signals more visible to the engineer. Railway signals are a development of railway flags.[34] Flagpoles[edit] "Flagpole" redirects here. For the magazine, see Flagpole Magazine. A flagpole, flagmast, flagstaff, or staff can be a simple support made of wood or metal. If it is taller than can be easily reached to raise the flag, a cord is used, looping around a pulley at the top of the pole with the ends tied at the bottom. The flag is fixed to one lower end of the cord, and is then raised by pulling on the other end. The cord is then tightened and tied to the pole at the bottom. The pole is usually topped by a flat plate or ball called a "truck" (originally meant to keep a wooden pole from splitting) or a finial in a more complex shape. Very high flagpoles may require more complex support structures than a simple pole, such as a guyed mast. Dwajasthambam
are flagpoles commonly found at the entrances of South Indian Hindu temples.[35] Record heights[edit]

The former flagpole in Kew Gardens, taken shortly before its removal in 2007

Since 23 September 2014, the tallest free-standing flagpole in the world is the Jeddah Flagpole
Jeddah Flagpole
in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
at a height of 171 m (561 ft), exceeding the former record holder the Dushanbe Flagpole in Tajikistan[36][37] (height: 165 m, 541 ft), National Flagpole in Azerbaijan
(height: 162 m, 531 ft)[38] and the North Korean flagpole at Kijŏng-dong
(height: 160 m, 520 ft). The flagpole in North Korea actually is a radio tower with a flag on top. Besides two flagpoles mentioned above, the previous six world-record flagpoles were all built by American company Trident Support, and the rest are in: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: 133 m (436 ft); Aqaba, Jordan: 130 m (430 ft); Amman, Jordan: 126.8 m (416 ft); and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: 122 m (400 ft).[39] The tallest flagpole in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
from 1959 until 2013 stood in Kew Gardens. It was made from a Canadian Douglas-fir tree and was 68.5 m (225 ft) in height.[40] The current tallest flagpole in the United States
United States
(and the tallest flying an American flag) is the 400-foot (120 m) pole completed before Memorial Day
Memorial Day
2014 and custom-made with an 11-foot (3.4 m) base in concrete by wind turbine manufacturer Broadwind Energy. It is situated on the north side of the Acuity Insurance
Acuity Insurance
headquarters campus along Interstate 43
Interstate 43
in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and is visible from Cedar Grove. The pole can fly a 220-pound flag for in light wind conditions and a heavier 350-pound flag in higher wind conditions.[41] Design[edit] Flagpoles can be designed in one piece with a taper (typically a steel taper or a Greek entasis taper),[42] or be made from multiple pieces to make them able to expand. In the United States, ANSI/NAAMM guide specification FP-1001-97 covers the engineering design of metal flagpoles to ensure safety.

Flagpole of modest size, with simple truck

Large flagpole, showing structured truck (New Zealand)

New Caledonia
New Caledonia
has two official flags, flown here in Nouméa, the capital city, on a single flagpole with a crossbar.

(flagpole) at Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India.

Hoisting the flag[edit] Hoisting the flag is the act of raising the flag on the flagpole. Raising or lowering flags, especially national flags, usually involves ceremonies and certain sets of rules, depending on the country, and usually involve the performance of a national anthem. A flag-raising squad is a group of people, usually troops, cadets, or students, that marches in and brings the flags for the flag-hoisting ceremony. Flag-hoisting ceremonies involving flag-raising squads can be simple or elaborate, involving large numbers of squads. Elaborate flag-hoisting ceremonies are usually performed on national holidays. Flags in communication[edit]

Semaphore signals for the letters of the English alphabet

Semaphore is a form of communication that utilizes flags. The signalling is performed by an individual using two flags (or lighted wands), the positions of the flags indicating a symbol. The person who holds the flags is known as the signalman. This form of communication is primarily used by naval signallers. This technique of signalling was adopted in the early 19th century and is still used in various forms today.[43] The colours of the flags can also be used to communicate. For example; a white flag means, among other things, surrender or peace, a red flag can be used as a warning signal, and a black flag can mean war, or determination to defeat enemies. Orientation of a flag is also used for communication, though the practice is rarely used given modern communication systems. Raising a flag upside-down was indicative that the raising force controlled that particular area, but that it was in severe distress.[44] Flapping[edit]

Play media

Video of flag flapping

When blown by the wind, flags are subject to wave-like motions that grow in amplitude along the length of the flag. This is sometimes ascribed to the flag pole giving vortex shedding; however, flags that are held by lanyards also can be seen to flap. See also[edit]

Lists and galleries of flags

Gallery of sovereign state flags List of flag names Lists of flags Timeline of national flags Unofficial flags

Notable flag-related topics

False flag Flag
Day Flag
desecration Flag
protocol Flag
patch Flag
semaphore Flag
throwing Glossary of vexillology Pledge of Allegiance Standard-bearer
(also enumerates various types of standards, both flag types and immobile ensigns) Vexillology Flags of the World, an Internet-based vexillological association and resource Windsock


^ Articles 90–94 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ^ National Flag
-The official website of Denmark. An earlier use of the white cross on red is attested by an armorial (Netherlands) of 1370-1386. In later monastic tradition, the Danneborg made its first, miraculous appearance at the Battle of Lyndanisse on 15 June 1219. ^ "Welcome to the Royal Museums Greenwich Blogs - Royal Museums Greenwich Blogs" (PDF).  ^ "Largest flag flown".  ^ "Qatar breaks record for world's largest flag". BBC. December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013.  ^ www.n-state.com, NSTATE, LLC,. " Flag
Terminology Parts of a Flag".  ^ a b c d e "Flaggentypen". German Vexillological Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Flaggenkunde e. V., DGF). Retrieved 20 February 2012.  ^ German Federal Ministry of the Interior: Hissflagge, accessed 20 February 2012 ^ German Federal Ministry of the Interior: Hochformatflagge, accessed 20 February 2012 ^ German Federal Ministry of the Interior: Auslegerflagge, accessed 20 February 2012 ^ German Federal Ministry of the Interior: Hängeflagge, accessed 20 February 2012 ^ German Federal Ministry of the Interior: Hängeflagge, accessed 20 February 2012 ^ "Why you should not use a flag as a symbol of language".  ^ "Indicating the language of a link destination". www.w3.org. Retrieved 5 February 2018.  ^ "European Culturally Specific ICT Requirements" (PDF). European Committee for Standardization. 2001. Retrieved 5 February 2018.  ^ "Final Draft for CEN CWA: European Culturally Specific ICT Requirements" (PDF). CEN (European Committee for Standardization)). 31 October 2000. Retrieved 5 February 2018.  ^ "'Identical flag' causes flap in Romania". BBC News. 14 April 2004. Retrieved 4 November 2016.  ^ Pan-Arab Colours, crwflags.com ^ Mahdi Abdul-Hadi, The Great Arab Revolt
Arab Revolt
Archived 2014-05-05 at the Wayback Machine., passia.org ^ I. Friedman, British Pan-Arab Policy, 1915-1922, Transaction Publ., 2011, p.135 ^ Abū Khaldūn Sati' al-Husri, The days of Maysalūn: A Page from the Modern History of the Arabs, Sidney Glauser Trans., (Washington D.C.: Middle East Institute, 1966), 46. ^ Gabriella Elgenius (2007). Thomas Hylland Eriksen, ed. Flag, Nation and Symbolism in Europe and America. Richard Jenkins. Routledge. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-134-06696-4. Retrieved 30 November 2015.  ^ Вилинбахов Г. В. Государственная геральдика в России: Теория и практика (in Russian) ^ "Forordning om Coffardi-Skibes og Commis-Farernes samt de octrojerede Compagniers Skibes Flag
og Giøs, samt Vimpeler og Fløie af 11. juli 1748" (in Danish). Retrieved 21 August 2016.  ^ "SSF - Flaggskriften". Archived from the original on 2015-07-03. Retrieved 2016-07-27.  ^ "Background on conflict in Liberia". Archived from the original on 5 November 2007.  ^ "HISTORY of LIBERIA". Relief Inc. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12.  ^ " Liberia
and Description".  ^ " Liberia
Flag- Liberian Flags". World Flags 101.  ^ "Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field. Geneva, 6 July 1906". International Committee of the Red
Cross. Art. 18. Out of respect to Switzerland
the heraldic emblem of the red cross on a white ground, formed by the reversal of the federal colors, is continued as the emblem and distinctive sign of the sanitary service of armies.  ^ "Epilepsy Awareness Flag
- EpilepsyStore.com". EpilepsyStore.com. Retrieved 31 March 2017.  ^ "Article 5 - Flag
- WFD". WFDeaf.org. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2017.  ^ "Docket No. 79-2597".  ^ Calvert, J.B. (25 July 2004). "Early Railway Signals". University of Denver. Retrieved 7 October 2007.  ^ Hiltebeitel, Alf (1991). The Cult of Draupadi, Volume 2: On Hindu Ritual and the Goddess. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226340473. pp. 91–92. ^ " Jeddah Flagpole
Jeddah Flagpole
inaugurated". arabnews.com. Retrieved 2014-09-23.  ^ Former record: "Wer baut den hoechsten Fahnenmast". Asia Plus. September 9, 2008.  ^ " Flag
of Azerbaijan". Telegraph.co.uk. July 3, 2008.  ^ "Looking for Afghanistan? Turn Left at the Enormous Flagpole". National Geographic. 2017-09-05.  ^ "Timber! Steeplejacks to dismantle Kew Flagpole". Kew.org. Archived from the original on 2016-08-17.  ^ Weyandt, Janet (25 May 2014). "High-flying: Up in time for Memorial Day, Acuity flag is world's tallest". The Sheboygan Press. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2014.  ^ "Cone Tapered vs. Venetian Entasis
Tapered". Lingo Flagpoles Inc. Archived from the original on 2005-02-28.  ^ "Semaphore Flag
Signalling System". ANBG.gov.au. Retrieved 31 March 2017.  ^ Scanlon, Caitlin. " Flag
Etiquette Do's and Don'ts". Military.com. Retrieved 2017-10-05. 

External links[edit]

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has the property: Flag
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