Nordic Cross flag

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Nordic flags, from left to right: the flags of Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, respectively.
A selection of Nordic flags used in Northern Europe: Iceland, Faroe Islands, Orkney, Yorkshire West Riding, Shetland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Åland, Finland.

The term Nordic Cross flag describes certain flags bearing the design of the so-called Scandinavian cross. All of the Nordic countries have adopted such flags. All Nordic flags may be flown as gonfalons as well.[citation needed]

The first flag with the design was the Danish Dannebrog; thereafter, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and some of their subdivisions used this as inspiration for their own flags. The Norwegian flag was the first Nordic cross flag with three colours. Though the Scandinavian Cross motif is common to all, the various flag designs have individual histories and associated symbolism.[1]

Some of the flags in this list do not have official status. Also, note that flag proportions may vary between the different flags and sometimes even between different versions of the same flag.

Flags of the Nordic countries[edit]

Note that most of these flags are historical or have not been officially adopted and their use remains limited.







Flags of Germany[edit]

Nordic flags in Germany were historically used to allude to the nation's Germanic heritage and "Nordic" origins. Nordic flag designs very similar to Denmark's, Sweden's, and Norway's national flags were proposed as Germany's national flags in both 1919 and 1948, after World War I and World War II, respectively. Today, the Nordic cross is a feature in some city and district flags or coats of arms.

Flags of the United Kingdom[edit]

Many locations in Scotland and England were colonized by Norwegian and Danish settlers and Viking raiders during the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries. Several locales, particularly in the Scottish islands, have flags or have had flag proposals based on the Nordic cross as a recognition of this Scandinavian heritage. This was included in the flag of the West Riding of Yorkshire which depicts the cross of St. George, the historic symbol of England, with the vertical band off-centre to the left, in the format adopted by most Scandinavian countries.

  • The unofficial flag of the Scottish Highlands features a Nordic Cross.

Flags of Estonia[edit]

The Nordic cross has a long history in Estonia, dating back to 1219. The Nordic flag originates from Estonia, where according to Danish legend, it fell from the sky during the Battle of Lyndanisse. Because of the long Danish and Swedish rule in Estonia, the Nordic cross flags have been evident as county flags in many of Estonian counties since 1219.

Flags of Latvia[edit]

Large parts of today's Latvia have been under Swedish and also Danish rule. Many territories in Latvia have begun using Nordic cross flags. Sometimes this is done to bolster the locality's association with the Scandinavian states (and, as with the proposed flag of Latvia, to assert a Baltic identity over a long-standing affiliation with the Russian sphere of influence).

Swedish historian Carl-Gustav Liljenberg suggests that Erik XIV of Sweden adopted the blue and yellow cross coat of arms of the city of Riga in 1562, in order to incorporate Riga's important trade system with the Swedish. There is also some evidence that the flag of Scania has its origin in the Archdiocese of Riga. The diocese's yellow coat of arms on a red background derives its origin from Albert de Buxhoevden (Bishop of Riga from 1199-1229), who founded both the diocese in 1201 and the Order of the Sword in 1202. Andreas Sunesen adopted this coat of arms as his own and that of the Archdiocese of Lund.[5]

Flags of ethnic or linguistic groups[edit]

Non-Nordic Cross flags of areas associated with the Nordic countries[edit]

Although different, the offset of the circles and the lines in the flag of Greenland and the Sami flag are reminiscent of the Nordic cross flags.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Znamierowski, Alfred (2002). The world encyclopedia of flags : The definitive guide to international flags, banners, standards and ensigns. London: Hermes House. pp. 103 and 134. ISBN 1-84309-042-2. 
  2. ^ "Kunstavisen på internettet - Artikler". Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. 
  3. ^ "Västsvenska flaggan - Handelskammaren". Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. 
  4. ^ In 1844, German nationalists in the two duchies of Holstein and Schleswig created a blue-white-red tricolour as a symbol for independence which began to see widespread use. In 1845, Denmark responded by outlawing all other flags than the Danish one shown here. This ban was enforced as long as Denmark controlled the two duchies (Holstein and Lauenburg: effectively until 1863, in Schleswig effectively until early 1864.) Use of the Danish flag was in turn outlawed by the secessionist administration that claimed both provinces 1848-1851.
  5. ^ Sven-Olle R. Olsson, Ph.D. (1993). "The Red and Yellow Cross Flag, History and Stories Told". Stiftelsen Skånsk Framtid - The Foundation for the Future of Scania. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 

External links[edit]