Flag of Eritrea

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Flag of Eritrea.svg
UseNational flag and ensign
AdoptedDecember 5, 1995; 26 years ago (1995-12-05) (standardised version)
Designa red isosceles triangle based on the hoist-side pointed toward the fly-side and then divided into two right triangles: the upper triangle is green and the lower triangle is blue with an Emblem (1952-1995) in gold (a vertical olive branch encircled by an olive wreath) centered on the hoist side of the triangle

The flag of Eritrea (Tigrinya: ሃገራዊት ባንዴራ ኤርትራ, Arabic: علم إريتريا الوطني), is the national flag of Eritrea. It was adopted on December 5, 1995.[1] The flag combines the basic layout and colors from the flag of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front with an emblem of a wreath with the upright olive-branch derived from the 1952–1962 flag. The green color in the flag stands for the agriculture and livestock of the country, the blue represents the bounty of the sea, and the red stands for the blood shed in the struggle for Eritrean independence with the 30 leaves in the wreath representing the thirty years spent in the struggle.[2][3]

History and symbolism[edit]

Eritrea and Ethiopia were both occupied by the Italians between 1935 and 1941. After Italy's defeat in the East African Campaign, Ethiopia reverted to its pre-Italian feudal monarchy while Eritrea was given over to modern British rule under a mandate by the United Nations in 1949. The advent of Arab nationalism in the 1940s saw the Muslim part of Eritrea demand independence from British rule. Meanwhile, Ethiopia tried to claim the Eritrean state as its own by calling it a "lost province". Several officers proposed that Eritrea be separated into two parts: the Christian area to be merged to Ethiopia; the Muslim area to Sudan. After international debate and the intervention of the Allied Powers, the United Nations passed a resolution with the agreement of Britain formulating the creation of an autonomous Eritrea in federation with Ethiopia in 1950.[4]

On September 15, 1952, Eritrea became independent from British rule[5] and was made an autonomous part of Ethiopia. That same year, through their elected representatives, Eritreans settled for the blue flag as their common symbol. The flag was created and designed by Degiat Beyene Zahilay who was born in Tekonda, Akele Guzay, Eritrea. The "Blue flag" is passionately referred to as Khedra in Tigre and awliE in Tigrinya. The flag displays three olive branches on a blue background: two branches with eleven leaves each, hug a third branch which carries twelve leaves. Eritrean nationalism that was symbolized by that flag still rages on; it is the only symbol that Eritreans unanimously agreed upon as a wholly representative symbol, it was the seal that asserted the creation of Eritrea as we know it today.

Previously, the unionists had rejected independence and had always yearned to be ruled by Haile Selassie, but throughout the federal period, they continued identifying themselves with the Ethiopian flag and sabotaging the federal arrangement. Soon, Emperor Haile Selassie began to openly violate and abolish the federal arrangement: he dissolved the Eritrean parliament and outlawed the Eritrean flag which he lowered and hoisted the Ethiopian flag in its place, practically occupying Eritrea militarily. The lowering of the flag sparked the long and arduous armed struggle by Eritreans for self-determination.

In the sixties, it was very common around old strongholds of the Unionist party to see the Ethiopian flag revered. Though not required by law, the Ethiopian flag was carried in funeral procession and hoisted in venues of weddings and other public ceremonies. Bulls were wrapped in the Ethiopian flag on their way to be killed for a feast or a wedding. On the other hand, nationalist Eritreans brought the outlawed blue Eritrean flag from its hiding just to look at it and pay homage. In a very secretive ritual, every once in a while parents would show it to their children so that they do not forget, and told them that the Eritrean flag was their true symbol and not the occupational flag that Haile Selassie forcefully imposed on Eritreans.

The propaganda of the Unionist Party aggressively targeted the blue flag. To them, it was the “flag of the United Nations.” At the same time, the Ethiopian Flag was promoted as one belonging to Janhoi, Haile Selassie, the elect of God. While the Ethiopian flag was given a divine value, the Eritrean flag was portrayed as one belonging to the shifta and Arab sellouts who betrayed their “Mother Ethiopia” and they worked hard to separate the child (Eritrea) from its mother (Ethiopia). At later stages, it was difficult for people who grew up feeding on this type of propaganda to come to terms with the fact that the blue Eritrean flag was actually decided and approved by the founding fathers, by the first ever elected body of legislators that Eritrea ever had. Furthermore, all Eritrean parties that represented the entire social and political forces of the country, including the pan-Ethiopianist Union party, participated in the negotiations and accepted the flag as a unifying symbol of Eritrea.[6]

On September 1, 1961, the national hero Hamid Idris Awate resurrected the blue flag that the unionists tried to bury in collaboration with Haile Selassie. He raised it high and set out on a long journey to reclaim a hoisting ground for it in all parts of Eritrea. Singers and poets have sung for the blue flag that represented Eritrea and its future; the people rallied behind it and the fire of nationalism was re-kindled. It represented the dreams of all Eritrean nationalists and patriots who kept its image in their minds; it was the magnet that pulled all Eritreans together.[7]

After civil war broke out in Eritrea in 1961,[8] Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie banned the Eritrean flag, coat of arms, and all other government seals from public places. He annexed Eritrea in 1962 with the approval of the United Nations.[4]

This flag was used until the end of the 1950s, when the territory was absorbed and then forcibly annexed into Ethiopia. This triggered the armed struggle for independence. The blue and green Eritrean flag, however, continued to be in use as the “flag of liberation”, by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). When the EPLF officially came to being, it proposed its own flag during the front's First Organizational Congress in 1977.[6]

The current flag of Eritrea bears resemblance to the party's official flag.[9] The flag had three triangles: red, blue, and green. The yellow star in the red triangle symbolized the country's rich mineral resources, with the five points representing unity, liberation, justice, democracy, and progress.[10] After Eritrea was proclaimed an independent nation, the flag was modified and its first official hoisting was performed on May 24, 1993.[9] In the red triangle, a gold wreath symbol with 14 leaves on each side, derived from the 1952 flag, replaced the gold star of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front's flag. In 1995 the number of leaves in the wreath were standardised: the 30 leaves symbolize the number of years spent in civil war before achieving independence. The flag's length to breadth ratio was changed from 2:3 to 1:2.[9]

The official currency of Eritrea's Nakfa coins issued in 1997 featured six native animals; on the reverse the coins showed a group of Eritrean People's Liberation Front's fighters raising the national flag and the slogan "Liberty, Equality and Justice" in English language.[11]


Flag of Eritrea Specifications

The flag of Eritrea is dominated by a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist-side pointed toward the fly-side and then divided into two right triangles. The upper triangle is green and the lower triangle is blue with a yellow vertical olive branch encircled by an olive wreath centered on the hoist side of the triangle. The shape of the red triangle broadly mimics the shape of the country.[12] The green stands for the agriculture and livestock of the country, blue for the bounty of the sea, and red for the bloodshed in the struggle for independence with the 30 leaves in the wreath corresponding to the thirty years spent in the struggle.[9] The flag has proportions of 1:2.

Flag of Eritrea.svg
Colors scheme
Blue Red Yellow Green
Pantone 279 C 185 C 123 C 2422 C
CMYK 63-32-0-14 0-91-72-8 0-20-84-2 63-0-53-33
HEX #3C8BDC #EB0433 #FBC724 #0BAC24
RGB 60-139-220 235-4-51 251-199-36 11-172-36

Historical flags[edit]


  1. ^ "National Flag of Eritrea". Worldflags. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  2. ^ "The High Hoisted Banner Of Pride And Glory". www.shabait.com. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  3. ^ "Flag of Eritrea". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-03-23.
  4. ^ a b Minahan 2013, p. 80.
  5. ^ Murtaza 1998, p. 73.
  6. ^ a b "The High Hoisted Banner Of Pride And Glory". Eritrea Ministry Of Information. Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  7. ^ "Eritrean Symbols Of Many Colors". Awate.com. 2018-09-17. Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  8. ^ The Diagram Group (2013). Encyclopedia of African Peoples. Routledge. p. 234. ISBN 978-1-135-96334-7.
  9. ^ a b c d Smith, Whitney (20 June 2014). "Flag of Eritrea". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  10. ^ Crampton, William (1989). The Complete Guide to Flags (p.132). Kingfisher Books. ISBN 0 86272 466 X
  11. ^ Connell & Killion 2010, p. 389.
  12. ^ "Africa :: Eritrea — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 2020-03-23.


External links[edit]