Flag of Antarctica

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A flag of Antarctica is a flag or flag design that represents the continent of Antarctica. As a condominium with no single governing body, it does not have an official flag of its own. However, several designs have been created for the purpose of representing the continent.

This should be distinguished from flags flown in Antarctica in general, which includes those used by national missions and outposts in Antarctica.

Flag designs[edit]

Since the 1970s, there have been many designs proposed as a flag for Antarctica.[1]

White flag[edit]

Original flag flown by the 'Discovery', stored at the Royal Museums Greenwich.

In 1929, members of the British Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition on RRS Discovery used white cotton sheeting to improvise a courtesy ensign (a flag used as a token of respect by vessels while in foreign waters) for a continent without a flag of its own. It is now in the National Maritime Museum in London. The white flag was used to represent Antarctica on at least two occasions on the voyage to Antarctica. On 1 August 1929, The Times noted that "the ship was flying the Union Jack at her forepeak, the white Antarctic flag at the foremast, and the Australian flag at the stern."[2][3]

Whitney Smith's proposal[edit]

Whitney Smith proposal

Vexillologist Whitney Smith presented an orange flag with a white emblem in the hoist at the 1978 annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA). The letter A stands for Antarctica, the semi-sphere represents the area below the Antarctic Circle, and the hands represent human protection of the environment. For high visibility, he chose international orange, a color commonly used in the aerospace industry to set objects apart from their surroundings.[1] The bright orange color was also chosen due to its rarity among national flags, as no nation with an active research base on the continent uses the color orange in their flag. The design elements are positioned on the hoist side of the flag so that it would remain visible even if the flag were damaged by the harsh Antarctic winds.[4]

Graham Bartram's proposal[edit]

Graham Bartram's proposal

Graham Bartram, the chief vexillologist of British organization Flag Institute, designed another proposal in 1996 for a 3D Atlas program developed by The MultiMedia Corporation and published by Electronic Arts.[5] Using the flag of the United Nations as his model, he chose a plain white map of the continent on a blue background to symbolize neutrality. The flag has been inspired by the emblem of the Antarctic Treaty System.[6]

Vexillologist Ted Kaye had Bartram's design printed and took them with him on an Antarctic cruise. At Kaye's request, it flew at the Brazilian base Comandante Ferraz and the British museum at Port Lockroy.[1] The Graham Bartram flag design has been used as the "Flag for Antarctica" emoji (🇦🇶) on most supported platforms since 2015.[7]

True South proposal[edit]

True South proposal

The True South proposal was designed by Evan Townsend in 2018.[8][9] The flag has the following meaning:

Horizontal stripes of navy and white represent the long days and nights at Antarctica's extreme latitude. In the center, a lone white peak erupts from a field of snow and ice, echoing those of the bergs, mountains, and pressure ridges that define the Antarctic horizon. The long shadow it casts forms the unmistakable shape of a compass arrow pointed south, an homage to the continent's legacy of exploration. Together, the two center shapes create a diamond, symbolizing the hope that Antarctica will continue to be a center of peace, discovery, and cooperation for generations to come.[10]

The 2022 Geographic South Pole Marker, featuring the True South flag

The flag is named after geographic South, or "true South", which differs from magnetic south.[11]

The flag has quickly gained popularity since its introduction.[12] It has been adopted by a few National Antarctic Programs,[13][14] Antarctic nonprofits, and expedition teams; flown at several research stations across Antarctica;[15] and is used in the 2022 marker for the geographic South Pole.[16]

Emblem of the Antarctic Treaty[edit]

Emblem of the Antarctic Treaty

The emblem of the Antarctic Treaty System is occasionally used, both for its use by its members since the first consultative meeting in 1961[17][18] and for having inspired other similar flags.[6] While the origin of this design can be traced to the first redaction of the treaty in 1959,[19] the consultative members of the Antarctic Treaty System have officially adopted it as emblem only in 2002.[20]

The emblem is used in the form of a flag,[21][22][23] among other forms, along with being used on all official documents, and officially this emblem represents the Antarctic Treaty System and not the continent itself.[24] A commemorative stamp was also issued in 1971.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kaye, Edward (27 July 2003). "Flags Over Antarctica" (PDF). Proceedings of the International Congress of Vexillology. XX: 389–401 – via Nordic Flag Society.
  2. ^ "White Flag of Antarctica - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  3. ^ Savours, Ann (4 April 2013). The Voyages of the Discovery: An Illustrated History of Scott's Ship. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-702-3.
  4. ^ "Antarctica — Whitney Smith proposal". www.crwflags.com. Retrieved 12 January 2023.
  5. ^ Phil Salvador (3 June 2015). "Music Highlight: Electronic Arts 3D Atlas". Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  6. ^ a b Dumont-Le Cornec, Elisabeth (2020). The World Encyclopedia of Flags: Banners and Ensigns. Firefly Books. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-2281-0258-8. ...One flag was designed by Graham Bartram and is very similar to the flag of the Antarctic Treaty, and the other is by Whitney Smith... Neither of these flags has ever been flown on the territories governed by the treaty.
  7. ^ "Flag for Antarctica Emoji". Emojipedia. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Antarctica's first flag gives the uninhabited continent a voice in the climate crisis". 29 April 2021.
  9. ^ "True South: A New Flag for a Global Antarctica".
  10. ^ "TRUE SOUTH | A New Flag of Antarctica". True South. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  11. ^ Lilit Marcus (18 July 2021). "Is Antarctica a country? The future of the world's least understood continent". CNN. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  12. ^ "Antarctica", The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, 2 August 2022, retrieved 20 August 2022
  13. ^ Long, Molly (20 April 2021). "This flag has been designed to represent and protect Antarctica". Design Week. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  14. ^ Sandigliano, Teo (23 April 2021). "TRUE SOUTH, a new flag for Antarctica's conservation". WeVux. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  15. ^ * "Antarctica's New Flag Hopes To Bring Attention To This Fragile Continent". Matador Network. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  16. ^ "Antarctica Photo Library". photolibrary.usap.gov. Retrieved 8 August 2022.
  17. ^ "Antarctic treaty, first consultative meeting, 10 Jul 1961" (PDF) (in French).
  18. ^ "Postage stamp issues to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, 1961". Polar Record. 16 (100): 104–105. January 1972. doi:10.1017/S0032247400062677. ISSN 1475-3057. S2CID 251050011. The representatives recommend their governments:...that the most prominent feature of the stamp should be the Atlantic Treaty emblem representing a map of Antarctica, which appears on the official documents of consultative meetings;
  19. ^ "Original facsimile of Antarctic Treaty, 1 December 1959" (PDF).
  20. ^ "The Antarctic Treaty Explained". British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  21. ^ "Antarctic Treaty database - Decision 2 (2002) - ATCM XXV - CEP V, Warsaw". ats.aq. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Antarctic Treaty". www.fotw.info. Retrieved 29 March 2023.
  24. ^ "Antarctic Treaty database - Decision 2 (2002) - ATCM XXV - CEP V, Warsaw". ats.aq. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  25. ^ "Postage stamp issues to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty, 1961". Polar Record. 16 (100): 104–105. January 1972. doi:10.1017/S0032247400062677. ISSN 1475-3057. S2CID 251050011.

External links[edit]