A FLAG is a piece of fabric (most often rectangular or quadrilateral)
with a distinctive design that is used as a symbol , as a signaling
device, or as decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the
graphic design employed, and flags have since evolved into a general
tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in
environments where communication is similarly challenging (such as the
maritime environment where semaphore is used). National flags are
patriotic symbols with varied wide-ranging interpretations, often
including strong military associations due to their original and
ongoing military uses. Flags are also used in messaging, advertising ,
or for other decorative purposes. The study of flags is known as
vexillology , from the
Due to the use of flags by military units, 'flag' is also used as the name of some military units. A flag (Arabic: لواء) is equivalent to a brigade in Arab countries, and 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
* 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
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)
In antiquity, field signs or standards were used in warfare that can
be categorized as vexilloid or 'flag-like'. Examples include the
High Middle Ages
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; 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.
National flag Flags at half-mast outside Central
Plaza, Hong Kong , after the
2008 Sichuan earthquake . The
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 flag of Denmark , the Dannebrog, is attested in 1478, and is
the oldest national flag still in use. It inspired the cross design of
It is said that the Dutch Tricolour has inspired many flags but most
notably those of
* 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 , Romania and
National flag designs are often used to signify nationality in other forms, such as flag patches .
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 flag and
Colours, standards and guidons
Several countries (including the
Other countries' armed forces (such as those of the
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
Among international flags are the
Flag of the United Nations
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,
SHAPES AND DESIGNS
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 the flag is flying from the observer's point of view from left, the side of the pole, 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
Some complex flag designs are not intended for through and through implementation, 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
* 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
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
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
PARTS OF A FLAG
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.
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.
The standard HORIZONTAL FLAG (no. 1 in the preceding illustration) is nonetheless the form most often used even in these countries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flags can play many different roles in religion. In
As languages rarely have a flag designed to represent them, it is a common but unofficial practice to use national flags to identify them. The practice is deprecated because it is often considered insulting 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
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
* 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
Thus, on the Internet, it is common to see the English language
associated with the flag of the
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
In certain cases, flag similarities are not coincidental, but the result of a conscious choice.
Flag of the Arab Revolt , used in Hejaz
The Pan-Arab colours black , white , green , and red are first known from the flag of the Arab Revolt in 1916. The colours were intended to represent certain Arab dynasties. Countries currently using flags with the Pan-Arab colours include Jordan , Kuwait , Palestine and Sudan .
The tricolor flag of Russia, inspired by the flag of the Netherlands
, 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 . Among former and current countries beside
THE NORDIC CROSS
The oldest flag of the
FLAG OF LIBERIA
RED CROSS FLAG
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
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 is a popular children's sport.
Main article: diplomatic flag
Some countries use diplomatic flags, such as the United Kingdom
(Image of the Embassy flag ) and the Kingdom of
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
Some of these political flags have become national flags, such as the
red flag of the
Some disability advocacy groups have adopted flags to raise awareness of their causes.
The Epilepsy Awareness
When the World Federation of the
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.
Open swimming area Closed swimming area
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.
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. 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.
"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 .
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 in
The current tallest flagpole in the
Flagpoles can be designed in one piece with a taper (typically a steel taper or a Greek entasis taper), 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 (
HOISTING THE FLAG
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
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.
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.
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.
Lists and galleries of flags
Notable flag-related topics
* ^ Articles 90–94 of the
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
* ^ Вилинбахов Г. В. Государственная
геральдика в России: Теория и практика
* ^ "Forordning om Coffardi-Skibes og Commis-Farernes samt de
octrojerede Compagniers Skibes