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Flag of Solomon Islands

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Solomon Islands
Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg
Flag of Solomon Islands
UseNational flag
Proportion1:2
Adopted18 November 1977
DesignA thin, yellow stripe dividing diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner to the upper fly-side corner: the upper triangle is blue with five white five-pointed stars arranged in an X pattern and the lower triangle is green

The flag of Solomon Islands was adopted in 1977, replacing the British Blue Ensign defaced with the arms of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. It has been the flag of Solomon Islands since 18 November of that year, eight months before the country gained independence. It consists of a thin, yellow stripe dividing diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner. The upper triangle is blue and the canton charged with five white stars; the lower triangle is green. Although the number of provinces has increased from the five original provinces, the number of stars on the flag remains unchanged.

History[edit]

British protectorate[edit]

In 1886, Germany and Britain agreed to partition the Solomon Islands archipelago, with Britain to assume control of the southern section. This southern area later became the sovereign nation of Solomon Islands.[1] Seven years later, in 1893, Britain declared this area a British protectorate.[2] At the turn of the 20th century, Germany gave up their northern part to Britain in exchange for Britain's acceptance of German claims over German Samoa and areas in Africa.[1] During this time, the British Union Jack and Red Ensign were flown throughout the Solomon Islands archipelago, as well as a Blue Ensign, defaced with the protectorate's name and the monarch's crown within the Solomon Islands Protectorate.[3]

In 1947, a new flag for the protectorate was introduced featuring a red field charged with a black-and-white sea turtle. Nine years later in 1956, this had to be modified because the turtle was a motif affiliated only with Central Province. The revised version of 1956 saw the field divided quarterly and displaying a lion for Britain and an eagle, a turtle, a frigate bird and assorted weapons from the region for the five provinces.[3]

New flag for a new country[edit]

In 1975, during the lead up to independence, a contest was held to design a new flag for the future country.[3][4] One of the submissions contained the nation's coat of arms,[3] while the initial winning design had a blue field with a yellow circle, encompassed with chains and charged with a black frigate bird.[4] However, this was eventually rescinded, since this bird was attributed to only one province as opposed to the entire country. The second winning design included a red field charged with a black elliptical chain at the centre. As explained by the artist, this alluded to the historical practice of blackbirding in the country and the "blood spilt" as a result of it. After it was published in a national newspaper, the design stirred up much debate in the community and it too was scrapped.[4]

Ultimately, the last design was created by a New Zealander then teaching at the King George VI School,[4] in the eastern part of the capital Honiara.[5] This was in spite of the fact that preference was supposed to be given to local submissions by Solomon Islanders.[4] It was ratified as the new flag of the islands on 18 November 1977, eight months before the country became the final British protectorate to gain independence.[3][6][7]

Independence and beyond[edit]

The Union Jack was finally lowered and the new flag raised in an Independence Day ceremony on 7 July 1978 in Gizo, Western Province. Although the ceremony had already been designed to be as low key as possible, it was marked by controversy and a confrontation between locals from Western Province and those from Malaita Province.[8] This arose because leaders from the Western Council had unsuccessfully lobbied the government to promise greater devolved powers to the provinces,[8] and some of the province's inhabitants viewed the flag ceremony as a demonstration of "Malaitan dominance" over Western Province.[9]

Since 2012, the Solomon Islands flag may be used as a flag of convenience by foreign merchant vessels under an Act made by the country's National Parliament.[10] The government hoped to attract over US$500,000 in annual tax revenues from this and the transport minister claimed that this would also give local sailors new employment opportunities and the potential to earn foreign exchange.[10]

The design[edit]

The design consists of a narrow, yellow stripe dividing the flag diagonally from the lower hoist-side corner to the upper fly-side corner. The upper triangle is blue with five, white, five-pointed stars arranged in three offset rows at the canton in the shape of the letter X.[11]. The lower triangle is green. Its technical description in Blazon is: "Per bend sinister azure and vert, a riband sinister or, in dexter chief five stars in saltire argent".

These colours and symbols carry cultural, political, and regional meanings: the blue represents the importance of both fresh and salt water,[3][6] in the form of rivers, rain and the Pacific Ocean.[3][11][12]; the green represents the land with the trees and crops that grow on it.[6][11][3]; the yellow represents the sun and its rays separating the land and the ocean; [3][12] the five stars represent the five provinces in existence at the time of independence. The stars do not represent the Southern Cross as is the case with the flags of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa.[4][13] New provinces have been created since independence but the number of stars remains unchanged.[3][6]

Proposed 'Southern Horizon', 2014
Proposed 'Southern Field', 2014

In 2014, proposals were made for an alternative design to replace the current Australian flag. These proposals included the 'Southern Horizon' and the 'Southern Field' designs; both popular in an unofficial poll of more than 8,000 people. Their blue, gold, and green colour schemes and the inclusion of the Southern Cross are noted for their striking resemblance to the Solomon Islands flag, which preceded both the proposals by 37 years.[14]

Variants[edit]

The civil ensign (for merchant ships) and state ensign (for non-military government vessels) are red and blue flags, respectively, with the national flag in the canton. The naval ensign (for police vessels) is based on the British white ensign, a red cross on a white field, also with the national flag in the canton.[15]

Variant flags of Solomon Islands
Variant flag Usage
Civil Ensign of the Solomon Islands.svg Civil ensign
Government Ensign of the Solomon Islands.svg State ensign
Customs Ensign of the Solomon Islands.svg Customs Service Ensign
Naval Ensign of the Solomon Islands.svg Naval Ensign

Historical flags[edit]

Historical flags of the British Solomon Islands
Historical flag Duration[15] Description
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg 1893– 1906 Identical to the Union Jack.
Flag of the Solomon Islands (1906–1947).svg 1906–1947 A Blue Ensign defaced with the name of the protectorate's and the Tudor Crown.
Flag of the Solomon Islands (1947–1956).svg 1947–1956 A Blue Ensign charged with a shield depicting a black-and-white sea turtle.
Flag of the Solomon Islands (1956–1966).svg 1956–1966 A Blue Ensign charged with a shield divided quarterly – depicting a lion, an eagle, a turtle, a frigate bird, and weapons from the region – on a white disk.
Flag of the Solomon Islands (1966–1977).svg 1966–1977 Identical to the previous version, save for the removal of the white disk.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Foster, Sophie; Laracy, Hugh Michael (1 June 2016). "Solomon Islands – History". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Solomon Islands country profile". BBC News. BBC. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Smith, Whitney (16 February 2001). "Flag of the Solomon Islands". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Solomon Islands Flag". Solomon Times. 18 January 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Solomons businesses close amid fears of further riots in Honiara". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 May 2014. Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d Kindersley, Dorling (6 January 2009). Complete Flags of the World. Penguin Group. p. 227. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Small states and left‐overs of empire". The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. 73 (290): 122–129. 1984. doi:10.1080/00358538408453628. (registration required)
  8. ^ a b Premdas, Ralph; Steeves, Jeff; Larmour, Peter (Spring 1984). "The Western Breakaway Movement in the Solomon Islands". Pacific Studies. 7 (2): 34–67. (registration required)
  9. ^ Gina, Lloyd Maepeza (2003). Bennett, Judith A.; Russell, Khyla J. (eds.). Journeys in a Small Canoe: The Life and Times of a Solomon Islander. Pandanus Books. p. 190. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Solomon Islands to offer flag of convenience for foreign vessels". Radio Australia. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 March 2012. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "Solomon Islands". The World Factbook. CIA. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  12. ^ a b Harper, Fiona (25 January 2016). "Our incredible, forgotten neighbour paradise". News.com.au. News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Flag Description". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Solomon Islanders flag alternative Aussie standard". Radio New Zealand. 2 February 2016. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Flag of Solomon Islands – A Brief History" (PDF). Flagmakers. Specialised Canvas Services Ltd. Retrieved 2 April 2017.

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