During this article we will be exploring the ten youngest flags adopted by sovereign nations around the world. We’ll examine the reasons the flags came into place, whether it be due to the birth of a new nation, a constitutional shift, or the country just felt like it needed a change!
10. Democratic Republic of Congo
The first flag on our list comes from the African nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to multiple leadership and name changes, and a dictatorship (which we will look at another time), the DRC re-adopted one of its previous flag designs (used from 1963 until 1971) with a few little tweaks. The main colour of the flag was changed from dark to light blue and the star was shifted slightly.
The present flag is sky blue, representing peace after years of conflict and dictatorship, with a yellow star in the canton to representing a hopeful future for the country. There is also a red, yellow-framed strip running diagonally across the flag. The red represents the blood of martyrs and the yellow represents wealth.
Adopted: 12th March, 2006
A now much disputed symbol, the Venezuelan flag has undergone numerous flag changes since its independence in 1811. In 2006, the President of Venezuela proposed a flag change, adding an additional star to its previous 7, to represent the Province of Guyana. The coat of arms was also changed slightly, with the white horse now galloping. After approval by the Venezuelan government, the opposition party refused to adopt the flag, so to this day still use the old one.
The present flag still has three equal bands of yellow, blue and red. It now with 8 stars forming an arch in the centre and the Venezuelan coat of arms positioned in the canton. The yellow represents the country’s wealth, whilst the blue represents the Caribbean sea surrounding the country. The red is said to represent the blood spilled in the battle for independence in 1811. Finally, the 8 stars represent the 7 provinces that declared independence from Spain (forming Venezuela) and the Province of Guyana.
Adopted: 4th October, 2006
The flag of Lesotho has changed twice since rule under the British Empire. The first being a new independent flag, and the second being a flag imposed during a military coup which ousted the former government (seen below). In 2006, the flag was changed to celebrate 40 years of independence from Britain. The new flag has three strips of blue, white and green and a black ‘Basotho hat’ in the centre. The blue represents the rain and sky, the white represents peace, after the military coup, and the green represents prosperity. The black ‘Basotho hat’ represents Lesotho as a black, cultured nation.
Adopted: 22nd January, 2008
Since Iraq’s first flag, the country has always kept its tricolour design. However, it has changed numerous times over the course of its liberated history due to numerous regime changes. The recent flag script (the green text in the centre) was changed due to a compromise by the US-appointed Iraqi interim administration in 2004. The handwriting of the text used to be that of Saddam Hussein, so was changed to oppose this. As a result, in 2008 the council of Representative in Iraq approved a new design that removed the 3 stars seen below. This was meant to be a temporary change. However, it was reviewed year later, and was approved as the new National Flag of Iraq.
The present flag has three equal, horizontal strips of red, white and black. In the centre is the ‘Takbir’ (an Arabic expression meaning ‘God is Great’). The red represents the bloody struggle for liberation , the white represents a bright future for the country, and the black represents oppression that the country has faced. All of the colours derive from the Arabic Liberation flag, which are also featured on many of the other Arabic nation’s flags.
Adopted: 17th February, 2008
The flag of the Republic of Kosovo was adopted directly after the much disputed unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. Some countries see Kosovo as a sovereign state and others do not. however for this list, we are deciding to include it. Before independence was declared, a competition (set up by the United Nations) was held to design a flag for the state. Over one thousand entries were received, and a winner was eventually picked. The flag was designed by Muhamer Ibrahimi.
Kosovo’s flag depicts a blue flag with a gold image of the state’s land area in the centre. Above this are 6 white stars, which represent each of the 6 ethnic groups which make up Kosovo’s population.
Adopted: 21st October, 2010
On October 21st, 2010, the State of Burma officially changed its name to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (although it can still technically be called both). Along with the name change, the nation also changed its flag. The flag was proposed at a 2006 constitutional convention, redesigned in 2007 and accepted by the constitution in 2008. When the changeover day came, officials were told to lower the old flag (seen below) and hoist up the new flag. Furthermore, orders were handed out to burn the old ones. Just before this occurred, the new flag was fully announced on state media.
The new flag has 3 horizontal stripes of yellow, green and red. This leads to some confusion, as it follows the pan-African colours, leading some to believe Myanmar is African! The yellow portrays solidarity, the green represents peace, tranquility and the lush greenery of the country, and red shows courage and determination of the Burmese people. The large, white star in the centre symbolises the significance of the union of the nation.
4. South Sudan
Adopted: 9th July, 2011
South Sudan is, at time of writing, the newest country in the world. Interestingly, the flag itself is older than the actual nation! This is due to the long, atrocious and extremely bloody civil war in Sudan. From 1983 to 2005, it was fought between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Government of Sudan. The current flag of that nation was that of People’s Liberation Army. Once the war ended in a stalemate, a peace treaty was signed. This triggered a 6 year campaign and referendum for the independence of South Sudan from Sudan. In 2011, the referendum was won with overwhelming support, and South Sudan became an independent sovereign state. The flag used for Liberation became the National Flag of South Sudan.
The flag of South Sudan depicts a tricolour of black, red and green, separated by smaller white strips. On the left side of the flag is a blue equilateral triangle with a base towards the hoist, and a yellow star within it. The Government of South Sudan brought out an official statement explaining the meaning of the colours.
They explain that; the black represents the people of South Sudan; the red represents the blood shed in the battle for independence; the green represents the agricultural land, wealth and progress; the white symbolises the peace attained through long struggle for Liberation; the blue symbolises the water of the river Nile that runs through the country; the yellow stands for the unity of the country.
Adopted: 3rd August, 2011
In 2011, during the civil war against the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya (1951-1969) began to be flown again by opposition parties and protesters. Soon after, the National Transitional Council (the de facto government during and after the civil war) began to fly it. Consequently, it became the replacement for Ghaddafi’s blank, green flag (seen below). This was reflected in the flags use by many embassies and the mission of Libya to the UN. Eventually, on 3rd August, 2011, the flag was recognised as the National flag. 3 months later, the civil war ended and the ‘Great Socialist People’s Libyan Aram Jamahiriya’ became the ‘State of Libya’ (which still has an ongoing crisis due to the war).
The re-adopted flag is a horizontal triband of red, black and green, with a white crescent in the centre and a white star positioned to the right of it. This crescent and star emblem is a widely recognised symbol of Islam across the globe. Otherwise, there is no real modern symbolisation of the colours of the flag. However, when it used to represent the Kingdom of Libya, the green represented independence and the red symbolised the blood of Libyans who died fighting for the Liberation again the Italian fascist rule. So most likely the people now relate the red to the Blood of the Libyans who fought against Gaddafi’s regime.
Adopted: 28th May, 2012
The present flag of Malawi was actually adopted back in 1964, after it broke free from he British empire as a colony and became a country. However, in 2010, a change to the flag (by the then Democratic Progressive party-led government) sparked upset across the country, and the opposing party wanted to challenge the decision in court. The flag was changed to match the pan-African layout, and the half sun was changed to a full sun to symbolise the economic progress the country has made. The flag was endorsed by the president, who changed it to the national flag. In 2012, when the Democratic Progressive party were voted out of government, the new president made the decision to re-adopt the old flag!
The flag depicts 3 horizontal strips of red, black and green, with a red sun rising in the black strip. The black symbolises the country’s people, the red represents the blood lost in struggles the country has faced and the green symbolises the nature in Malawi. The rising sun represents the dawn of a new hope for the continent of Africa (as at the time the flag was created, many other colonies were becoming independent nations after years of rule under various european countries/empires!). The 31 rays of the sun are a representation of the fact Malawi was the 31st independent state of Africa at the time of independence.
Adopted: 15th August, 2017
And here we are! The last flag on our list, and currently the newest flag of any sovereign state. Adopted in August 2017, it is the National Flag of Mauritania!
In 1959, the old flag was ordered in by the then President of Mauritania, and served as the national flag from 1960 until 2017. However, on August 5th, 2017, a large referendum was scheduled by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. In the referendum were proposed changes to the flag, senate and national anthem. The referendum was successful, hence the flag was changed by the addition of 2 red bars. The referendum actually caused quite a lot of upset and controversy, with a contesting vote being held on the same day! Despite this, the vote to change the flag stood, and so on 28th November 2017, it was flown for the first time, marking the 57th anniversary of the country’s independence.
The new flag depicts a green field with a yellow crescent on its side, above it, a yellow star, and a two strips of red at the top and bottom. The green is said to represent islam (Mauritania’s state religion) along with the crescent and star. The red, according the the President, represents “the efforts and sacrifices that the people of Mauritania will keep consenting, to the price of their blood, to defend their territory”.
And there we have it, the ten newest national flags! I hope you have enjoyed reading this list and look forward to more in the future! Let us know in the comments below what other lists you would like to see!