The flag of Albania is a red flag with a silhouetted black double-headed eagle in the center. The red stands for bravery, strength and valor, while the double-headed eagle represents the sovereign state of Albania. The flag was first adopted as the national flag of modern Albania in 1912.
The elements of the flag's design such as the double-headed eagle were borrowed from the banner of the Byzantine Empire. The eagle was used for heraldic purposes in the Middle Ages by a number of noble families in Albania and became the symbol of the Albanians. The Kastrioti's coat of arms, depicting a black double-headed eagle on a red field, became famous when he led a revolt against the Ottoman Empire resulting in the independence of Albania from 1443 to 1479. This was the flag of the League of Lezhë, which was the first unified Albanian state in the Middle Ages and the oldest Parliament with extant records.
The symbol of the double-headed eagle was re-used by Albanian nationalists during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries as a symbol of their campaign for their country's independence from the Ottoman Empire. On 28 November 1912, the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Vlora and the flag, raised by Ismail Qemal, was adopted as the symbol of the new nation.
The Albanian flag has gone through a number of changes over the years as different regimes have modified it. During the reign of King Zog (r. 1928–1939), a crown was added to the flag and was replaced by two fasces during the Italian occupation of Albania. After World War II, the communist regime added a five-pointed golden star, which was removed on 7 April 1992 after the communist government in Albania collapsed.
Albania's maritime flags—the civil ensign and the naval ensign—are both different from the national flag. The civil ensign consists of three horizontal bands of red, black, and red. The naval ensign is similar to the national flag, except that the eagle is on a white field, and the lower portion of the flag has a red stripe. The eagle of the flag of Albania is depicted on the reverse of the Albanian five lekë coin, issued in 1995 and 2000.
Beginning in 1969, the flag of Albania was widely unofficially flown in Kosovo by the country's ethnic Albanian population. It was the symbol of the unrecognized Republic of Kosova during the 1990s. The current independent state of Kosovo uses a different flag that was designed to avoid any symbols associated with a particular ethnic group.
There is an incorrect version of the flag still commonly used by Albanians and officials, most notably used in 100th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania, in which the eagles were very noticeably deformed. The flags were ordered from a Chinese company that produced incorrect details. These flags were quickly removed after Independence day, but a few specimens can still be found.
Flag of Independent Albania (1912–1914).
Alternate flag of Independent Albania (1912).
Flag of the Principality of Albania (1914–1920).
Flag of the Principality of Albania (1920–1925) and the Albanian Republic (1925–1926).
Flag of the Albanian Kingdom (1928–1939).
Flag of the Albanian Kingdom under Italy (1939–1943).
Flag of Albania under German occupation.
Flag of the Democratic Government of Albania (1944–1946)
Flag of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania (1946–1992).
Insignia of the Royal Albanian Army.
Latin (usually Albanian) Merchant Flag 1453–1793 during Ottoman Albania.
Autonomous Albanian Republic of Korçë, an autonomous state.
Flag of the Republic of Kosova.
Flag used by Arbëreshë (unofficial).
History records that the 15th century Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg (i.e. George Kastriota), had raised the red flag with the black eagle over his ancestral home, the Fortress of Kruje
Shqipëria po përgatitet të festojë 100-vjetorin e Pavarësisë me simbole të deformuar.
In the 19th century, the Albanian independentist circles used a red flag with the Byzantine double-headed eagle, supposedly used by the Albanian medieval hero Skanderbeg, and never forgotten in Albania. This flag was also used by the Albanian chief Isa Boletin, when he rebelled against Turkey in 1910. When the Autonomous Government was proclaimed in Mirditë in June 1911, this was also the flag used.
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