Color Meanings in Flags

Color Meanings in Flags

Color Meanings in Flags

We often take for granted the significance and meaning behind some of our most well-known symbols. Flags have long been used as representation of places and people, and the thought that goes into their design goes far beyond just the choosing of complimentary colors and images. Their meanings often exemplify the values, history and moral standing of the places or individuals they represent.

The Importance of Flags

Flags have been used as common symbols in history for over 5,000 years, dating as far back as 3000 BC with a metal Iranian flag and flag representation in Egyptian tomb carvings.  Vexillology, or the study of flags, takes its literal meaning from the Latin word for “guide,” a meaning which continues to carry weight in the use of flags today.  The word was created by Dr. Whitney Smith in 1957.

Flags have been used in battle for symbolizing wins and defeats, or to send signals to allies and enemies. In today’s society, every country in the world flies a representative flag, as well most states and territories within. Many families, organizations, and sports teams have also designed characteristic flags. Regardless of the venue or reason, a flag’s design is created under careful consideration, and the colors used in its foundation represent far greater ideals than what is found on a simple color wheel.

Color Symbolism in Flags

Colors within flags differ from country to country and state to state; the colors presented hold deep-seeded meaning and representation.

• Black: Often used to represent determination, ethnic heritage and/or the defeat of enemies. It can also be used as a symbol of death or mourning.
• White: Seen as a symbol of peace, purity and harmony, and has also been used to represent surrender in times of battle.
• Red: Stands for power, revolution, vibrancy and war (symbolic of bloodshed). Other meanings include courage and domination, while it can also be viewed as an alert of danger.
• Blue: Signifies determination, liberation, alertness and good fortune.
• Green: Often seen as a symbol of agricultural influence, as well as prosperity and fertility. It can also be viewed as youthfulness and hope.
• Yellow (or Gold): Has long been viewed as a symbol of wealth and energy, as in the sun. It can also be used to represent happiness.
• Orange: Viewed as representation of courage and sacrifice.

The Colors of the Countries

Each country designs its flags to symbolize its history, culture and people, and the color meanings can vary dependent on the ideals of the specific country. Some examples are:

• United States of America – The red symbolizes valor and bravery, the white stands for purity and innocence and the blue signifies justice, perseverance and vigilance. (Purchase American Flags)
• India – The colors of the Indian flag are saffron, white and green, which stand for courage and sacrifice, purity, and faith and fertility respectively. (Purchase India Flags)
• Austria – The red and white of the Austrian flag symbolize the remembrance of the Duke’s blood-stained coat during battle. (Purchase Austria Flags)
• Germany – The colors black, red and gold have been associated with Germany since the middle ages, but the current German flag colors are traced back to early 19th century volunteers, who fought for the country in the Napoleonic wars. The colors are based on the soldiers' uniforms which were black coats with red braid and gold buttons. (Purchase Germany Flags)
• China - The golden color of the Chinese flag symbolizes the Chinese race, while the red color stands for communism. (Purchase China Flags)
• Spain – Yellow stands for generosity and red for hardiness, bravery and strength in the Spanish flag. (Purchase Spain Flags)
• Italy – The Italian flag’s red, white and green colors have two meanings: charity, faith and hope, or the bloodshed in the Wars of Italian Independence, the Alps Mountain Range covered in snow and the country’s plains and hills. (Purchase Italy Flags)
• Belgium– The black, yellow and red of the Belgium flag symbolize the colors of the arms of the duchy of Brabant, a yellow lion with red claws on a black field. (Purchase Belgium Flags)

Color Combinations

Each color within a flag is important, but often the combination of colors carries equal significance, particularly the location of countries within a certain region. A few combinations include:

• Red, White and Blue: Many American’s claim this combination as our own, but in truth this blend has been used in flags long before the formation of the United States, seen most often in European nations including Croatia, Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Serbia, UK and Slovenia.
• Green, Red and Yellow: This color grouping is often symbolic of Pan-African countries, such as Cameron, Congo, Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Mali and Niger.
• Red, White, Green and Black: The color mixture is seen in Arab nations, including Palestine, Jordon, Kuwait, Syria and United Arab Emirates.

Flag Similarities

Even with the abundance of color combinations available, many countries’ flags exist in great similarity to others, often resulting from similar historical beginnings. 

• Monaco and Indonesia: Both utilize the same colors and design, different only by a slight degree in proportion.
• Luxembourg and the Netherlands: Each an identical combination of red, white and blue stripes, with a slight difference in proportion and shade of blue.
• Romania and Chad: Red, yellow and blue stripes of identical shape, different only in a slight variance in the tint of blue.
• Indonesia and Poland: Both an equal combination of red and white, different only in the direction in which they are flown.

Flown with Pride

Each country, state, territory and organization chooses its flags to best represent the ideals it holds most valuable. The colors used in flag design stand for tradition and excellence, signifying a respected history and a hopeful future.


All Star Flags has your favorite flag, with the largest assortment of American and international flags, as well as state, military, religious, historic and message flags, and so much more! They even have you covered with flagpoles and accessories. Fly your flag proudly today with the help of All Star Flags.


By Chad Creech, All Star Flags