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, from left to right
Top row: Iceland, Faroe Islands, Orkney, Shetland, Norway, Sweden, Åland, Finland;
Bottom row: Yorkshire West Riding, Denmark, Skåne.

The term Nordic Cross flag describes certain flags bearing the design of the so-called Nordic or Scandinavian cross, a cross symbol in a rectangular field, with the center of the cross shifted towards the hoist.

All of the Nordic countries have adopted such flags in the modern period, and while the Scandinavian cross is named for its use in the national flags of the Scandinavian nations, the term is used universally by vexillologists, in reference not only to the flags of the Nordic countries.[1]

While the design originates as a Christian cross, and as such ultimately derives from 13th-century designs in use during the Crusades,[2][3][4] the characteristic shift of the center to the hoist side is early modern, first described the Danish civil ensign (Koffardiflaget) for merchant ships in a regulation of 11 June 1748, which specified the shift of the cross center towards the hoist as "the two first fields must be square in form and the two outer fields must be 6/4 lengths of those". The Danish design was adopted for the flags of Norway (civil ensign 1821) and Sweden (1906), both derived from a common ensign used during the Union between Sweden and Norway 1818–1844, Iceland (1915) and Finland (1917); some of the subdivisions of these countries used this as inspiration for their own flags. The Norwegian flag was the first Nordic cross flag with three colours. All Nordic flags may be flown as gonfalons as well.[citation needed]

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.

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.


Official flags:

Unofficial flags:


Official flags:

Private or unofficial flags:




Nordic cross flags outside of Scandinavia[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.


United Kingdom[edit]

A number of modern flag proposals for localities in the United Kingdom (primarily Scotland) are based on Nordic cross designs, intended to reflect the "Scandinavian heritage" introduced to the British Isles during the Viking Age.


United States[edit]


Ethnic flags[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^; Historical flags of the world: The scandinavian cross; Eric Inglefield: "Fahnen und Flaggen" (translated to German by Dagmar Hahn), Delphin Verlag, Munich 1986, p.16
  2. ^ Jeroen Temperman. State Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 88. Retrieved 2007-12-31. Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christainity, on their national flag. The so-called Scandinavian crosses or Nordic crosses on the flags of the Nordic countries–Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden–also represent Christianity. 
  3. ^ Carol A. Foley. The Australian Flag: Colonial Relic or Contemporary Icon. William Gaunt & Sons. Retrieved 2007-12-31. The Christian cross, for instance, is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in the world, and many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greece and Switzerland, adopted and currently retain the Christian cross on their national flags. 
  4. ^ Andrew Evans. Iceland. Bradt. Retrieved 2007-12-31. Legend states that a red cloth with the white cross simply fell from the sky in the middle of the 13th-century Battle of Valdemar, after which the Danes were victorious. As a badge of divine right, Denmark flew its cross in the other Scandinavian countries it ruled and as each nation gained independence, they incorporated the Christian symbol. 
  5. ^ "Kunstavisen på internettet - Artikler". Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. 
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Not sure exactly what qualifies as a firmer sighting... but this flag is available for purchase and I can confirm that we have definitely despatched at least one of these flags to South Uist." (Charles Ashburner, 2 December 2003)
  8. ^ "[1]
  9. ^ registered by the Flag Institute on 23 May 2013 as the winning entry in a competition
  • 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. 

External links[edit]