Interesting Facts for Kids about the Flags of the World
Why are there so many different world flags? you might ask. Well, first let's see why people started using flags.
In earlier centuries certain groups of people had decorated spears and decorated staff which showed their cultural symbols. Later people also used ribbons, leather or silk decorations on the spears to distinguish their group from another group.
The early explorers always put crosses or sculptures up when they landed on unknown land, but later they used flags to proclaim their presence or show the sovereignty.
Why do countries have flags?
Every country has got a specific flag as their national symbol. The first flags were flown in the 18th century to tell others that they own of a piece of land (proclaim a possession) and that they rule over the people and land (sovereignty).
When Neil Armstrong was the first man to reach the moon in 1968, he erected an American flag on the moon. Here a picture of this historic event. Source: NASA.
Sir Edmund Hillary put up the Union Jack when he reached Mount Everest as he went on a UK expedition, even though he was New Zealander.
What’s in a flag?
World Flags show different sets of color and symbols, like the sun or the moon, some cultural symbols, like the national bird or flower and sometimes even have got some writing in it, like the flag of Saudi Arabia.
You can distinguish country flags by colors and symbols and some countries even use other shapes than the usual rectangular shape for their national flags.
Did you know that the flag of Nepal, which is pictured on the right, is the only one world flag which is not rectangular or square shaped?
You might want to know which symbols are most used in flags? All cultures use certain symbols which are meaningful to them, some of the symbols are even universal, that is they have the same meaning all over the world.
Universal symbols in World Flags
• Sun: The circle of the sun symbolizes unity and energy.
Japan is referred to be the "land of the rising sun" and uses the sun in its national flag. Another country using this powerful symbol: Argentina.
• Moon: The moon is usually displayed in crescent shape to distinguish it from the symbol of the sun. In combination with a star, the moon represents divinity and especially the Islam.
Tunisia has got three powerful symbols in its national flag: the red crescent moon and one red star rest in a white circle representing the sun, which you will see in the picture to the right. Other countries using this symbol: Turkey, Singapore.
• Stars: Constellations of stars often represent energy, especially when depicting the night sky or star constellation
The flag of the USA is called "Stars and Stripes"Other countries using the stars as symbol: Australia, New Zealand, Brazil.
• Cross: In ancient times the cross only symbolized the different points of the compass, in the 4th century however the cross was also taken as the symbol of faith.
Countries using this symbol: England (see the flag to the right), Sweden,
• Triangle: The three points of a triangle represent the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in Christianity. The triangle often also symbolizes strenght and power. Countries using this symbol: Bahamas, Eritrea, Sudan, American Samoa and others
• Square: The four even lengths of the square symbolize balance and equal opposites.
The Swiss flag is the only square flag in the world. Did you know that the flag of the international humanitarian organization "Red Cross" uses the reverse flag? It has got a red cross on white background.
• There are also many other symbols used in world flags.
uses a maple leave in its flag which shows that the country is caring for its nature and environment. The maple tree is Canada's national tree.
Use of Colors in Flags
As you can see above, red and white are dominant colors in most of the world’s flags.
Most flags contain primary colors, which are red, blue, green and some countries also use yellow or secondary colors. Gold is also used in many flags as the color is associated with the sun and is considered as color of kings as well.
Colors can have different meanings in different cultures.
Red: the color of life, blood and passion is always associated with power. Traditionally is associated with Islam and in China with good luck.
Blue: means tranquility and symbolizes the water and the sky which is often associated with infinity and wisdom.
Green: is a symbol of nature and new growth.
Yellow: is in China considered to be the imperial color. Buddhists consider it a color representing humility, but it is also a warning color in many cultures.
Black: Egyptians associate black with rebirth, while most countries associate the dark color with death.
White: the color of purity is in many countries also associated with death. White flags are lifted also as sign to surrender.
Violet: a combination of blue and red is a color used for meditation often, but can also mean bereavement in some cultures.
Pink: is often used as a color to symbolize success.
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