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.


Coat of Arms of the noble Kastrioti Family.[2] According to records, Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg raised a red flag with the black eagle over Krujë.[3]

The elements of the flag's design such as the double-headed eagle were borrowed from the banner of the Byzantine Empire.[4][5][6] 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.[7] 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.[8][9][10][11]

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.[4][7] 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.[4][7]

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.[12]

Beginning in 1969, the flag of Albania was widely unofficially flown in Kosovo by the country's ethnic Albanian population.[13] 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.

Incorrect version

Albanian centenary celebrations, 2012, with deformed-eagle flag visible on the left.

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.[14]



Ensign and standard


See also



  1. ^ THE 5 OLDEST COUNTRY FLAGS IN THE WORLD, Patriot Wood, LLC, 2015-03-29
  2. ^ Hodgkison, Harry (2005). Scanderbeg: From Ottoman Captive to Albanian Hero. ISBN 1-85043-941-9. 
  3. ^ The Flag Bulletin. Flag Research Center. 1987-01-01. 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 
  4. ^ a b c Elsie 2001, "Eagles", p. 78.
  5. ^ Grumeza 2010, p. 99: "During John Hunyadi's campaign at Niss in 1443, Skanderberg and a few hundred Albanians defected from the Turkish ranks; for twenty-five years he scored remarkable victories against the Ottomans. He adopted the Byzantine double-headed eagle flag, and his spectacular victories brought him the papal title Athleta Christi."
  6. ^ Mucha, Crampton & Louda 1985, p. 36.
  7. ^ a b c Elsie 2010, "Flag, Albanian", p. 140: "The eagle was a common heraldic symbol for many Albanian dynasties in the Late Middle Ages and came to be a symbol of the Albanians in general. It is also said to have been the flag of Skanderbeg...As a symbol of modern Albania, the flag began to be seen during the years of the national awakening and was in common use during the uprisings of 1909-1912. It was this flag that Ismail Qemal bey Vlora raised in Vlora on 28 November 1912 in proclaiming Albanian independence."
  8. ^ Matanov 2010, p. 363.
  9. ^ Pickard & Çeliku 2008, p. 16.
  10. ^ Schmitt 2009.
  11. ^ "Kuvendi i Lezhës (1444)". letersia.fajtori.com (in Albanian). 
  12. ^ "Albanian coins in circulation – Issue of 1995, 1996 and 2000". Bank of Albania. 2004–2009. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Malcolm 1998, p. 325.
  14. ^ "Festë me flamuj të deformuar" (Press release) (in Albanian). Top Channel. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2012. Shqipëria po përgatitet të festojë 100-vjetorin e Pavarësisë me simbole të deformuar. 
  15. ^ "Albania: Ottoman rule (15th century-1912)". Retrieved 4 March 2015. 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. 


Further reading

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