The island of Martinique recently announced its official territorial flag – but it may not be the one you expect!
As an overseas department of France, the national flag of Martinique is the French tricolour. Despite the location of the island in the West Indies, the area operates as any other region of the French Republic – the currency is the Euro and the residents are EU citizens!
However as Martinique is so geographically far from Paris, naturally the citizens have their own sense on identity as Martinicans. As such, the government recently ran a competition to find a new regional anthem and flag to represent the islanders in “sport, cultural and international events”. The winning design is below!
The eight blue and green segments represent the eight different languages commonly spoken on the islands, with the colours representing the Caribbean sea and beautiful natural landscape of Martinique. Each of the 34 Amerindian stars represents a commune on the island. Finally, at the center of the flag is a queen conch, again referencing the importance of the sea to Martinicans!
While the new flag is a very unique and eyecatching design, many flag enthusiasts will be scratching their heads at the decision. Martinique famously had a striking unofficial territorial flag, with a white cross surrounded by four white snakes, one in each quadrant.
This flag was known worldwide as the flag of Martinique, going so far as appearing as an emoji on millions if not billions of smartphones. However, the reason that this design did not become the official design goes far deeper than aesthetics.
The flag was created in 1766 as a way of distinguishing French boats based on where they were headed. The snakes were added to the French ensign as a way of showing that they were bound for Martinique, where this particular snake was native. However this is problematic with hindsight, as the boats which flew this ensign were often carrying people as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This was noted by French president Emmanuel Macron in a visit to the island in late 2018. He noticed the local police wearing an emblem bearing the snakes, and ordered for them to be changed immediated, so as to let this reminder of a dark era of slavery of Martinique fade from everyday use. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that the local government in Martinique is keen to establish a new flag and a new aesthetic identity for the island!
What do you think of the new flag of Martinique? Let us know in the comment section, or on our social media pages!