Flags of the world: the story behind them – Officina delle Lingue
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Flags of the world: the story behind them

By on 21 November 2017

There are a lot of flags in the world. They are colourful and characterised by different shapes and symbols. Today they are even represented  in the emoticons list of our beloved smartphones. Have you ever wondered what do they mean? Why are there stars, stripes, particular shapes and colours in them?

Here below there are some of the most known flags of the world.

The UK’s flag consists of the red cross of Saint George (Patron of England), the cross of St. Patrick (Patron of Ireland) and the saltire od St. Andrew (Patron of Scotland). Wales is not represented in the actual flag of UK because at the time the flag was created, it was not part of the kingdom.

Since 1755 there were 28 versions of the famous “stars and stripes” American flag. Each of them had a different number of stars and stripes. Today’s version has been in use since the Independence Day of 1960 and it is made up with 13 horizontal stripes representing the 13 colonies which declared the independence to become the first States of Union, and 50 stars which are the 50 current States of U.S.A.

France’s flag is a tricolour flag: the white colour represents the King, indeed the red and the blue colours represent the city of Paris. These were also the colours of the revolutionaries who stormed the Bastille in 1789.

The well-known Maple Leaf Flag has been the official Canada flag since 1960. The 11 points of the maple leaf are so synonymous with the country shape that the flag has its own “National Flag of Canada Day” on every February.

Australia’s flag is linked to Commonwealth and it has a small Union Jack in the left corner on the top. Under it we can find a large white star with 7 points, which is called Commonwealth Star. The other stars are a representation of the Southern Cross constellation, that is easily visible from Australia.

The flag of Germany is also called “Bundesflagge” and it is the Federal Flag. It is dated back to 1840 when the Frankfurt Parliament declared its colours black, red and yellow as official colours of Germany. They represent the Democracy and the current form of the flag was introduced after the reunification  in 1990.

South Africa’s flag was created after Nelson Mandela’s release. There are a lot of colours in it: the black, the green and the yellow ones were taken from the banner of Mandela’s African National Congress. The red, the blue and the white colours were taken from the  Transvaal flag. The Y shape of the flag is a symbol of the converge of the cultures in the nation.

China’s flag is characterized by the red colour. It represents the Communist Revolution in China. There are also 5 yellow stars and their relationship represents the unity of Chinese people under the leadership of Communist Party of China (CPC). The bigger star is the Party, indeed all the other smaller stars are the Chinese people united around a greater good.

Brazil’s flag is characterized by a particular motto written on it: “Ordem y Progreso”, which means “Order and Progress”. This sentence is inspired to French philosopher Auguste Comtè’s motto of positivism where “Love as principle and Order as the basis, Progress is the goal”. The white stars represent the night sky over the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Nepal’s flag has a unusual shape, which symbolises the peaks of the Himalayas mountains with the sun and the moon symbols that represent calm and resolve. The crimson red is the colour of the rhododendron flower that is also the country national flower. The blue borders have a meaning of peace.

Italy’s flag is dated back to 1797. It is a tricolour flag, where the green colour reminds to the green meadows of the country; the white colour represents the colour of the snow on its mountains and the red colour is the blood of the soldiers who battled in the past.

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Federica
MONZA

Federica Mariani, born in 1985. Bachelor's Degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures at Catholic University of Milan. English - German Translator and Teacher. Welcome to my Officina delle Lingue!

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