The flag of the Dominican Republic, as described by Article 31 of the Dominican Constitution, features a centered white cross that extends to the edges and divides the flag into four rectangles—the top ones are blue (hoist side) and red, and the bottom ones are red (hoist side) and blue. A large coat of arms featuring a shield with the flag design and supported by a bay laurel branch (left) and a palm frond (right) is at the center of the cross; above the shield, a blue ribbon displays the national motto: Dios, Patria, Libertad (God, Fatherland, Liberty). Below the shield, the words República Dominicana appear on a red ribbon (this red ribbon is depicted in more recent versions as having its tips pointing upward). In the center of the shield, flanked by three spears (two of them holding Dominican banners) on each side, is a Bible with a small cross above it and said to be opened to the Gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 32, which reads Y la verdad nos hará libre (And the truth shall make you free).
The blue on the flag stands for liberty, the white for salvation, the red for the blood of heroes. The civil ensign follows the same design, but without the charge in the center. Tourists have sometimes been mistakenly told that the colors of the flag stand for beans, rice, and water - this is incorrect.
The flag was designed by the leader of the Trinitarians, the founding father (Padre de la Patria) Juan Pablo Duarte. To create distinct flags for state and civil use, the coat of arms, adopted in 1844, was placed on the state flag. The motto had been the password of the Trinitarians.