What makes a flag “cool”? Bold colors, interesting patterns, or unique shapes? Or is it how well it represents the nationality it represents? Though “cool” is a subjective idea, it’s undeniable that some flags have a certain appeal that sets them apart from others. This article looks at some of the coolest country flags from around the world and the history and meaning behind them.
We know, we know. Antarctica is not a sovereign nation and therefore it does not have its own flag. Lots of countries do scientific research there and some have announced claims to large tracts of territory. But under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty of 1961, the continent is a scientific preserve. Nations are not allowed to militarily enforce their claims there.
However, there have been several proposals for a flag for Antarctica, and this one is cool (no pun intended). It’s a simple white map of the continent on a blue background representing the Antarctic Sea. It’s a beautiful, practical design. There is nothing political about it. No international organizations or governments officials recognize a flag for Antarctica, but if they ever decide to do so, you know which one we’re rooting for.
The Albanian flag is intense and one of the coolest country flags. It features a red field with a black double-headed eagle in the center. Albania officially adopted this tough-looking flag in 1912 after gaining independence from the Ottoman Empire. The design of the flag may have originated from a national hero named Skanderbeger, a 15th-century general of the Turkish army who left the military to return to Albania and raise the flag over the castle of his father in Kruje. He exclaimed upon raising the flag, “I did not bring you freedom. I found it here, among you.” After his return, Skanderbeger was able to unite Albania and successfully defend it against Ottoman attacks. Cool story for a cool flag!
The flag of Argentina was adopted in 1818 after the country gained independence from Spain. It includes three horizontal stripes of equal width. The top and bottom stripes are sky blue, while the middle one is white. The flag also features a golden sun with a face, known as the Sun of May, in the center of the white stripe.
The blue and white of the flag symbolize the loyalty and honesty of the Argentine people. The sun has more than one meaning. It recalls the sun god Inti, part of the Inca heritage of Argentina. However, it also symbolizes the sun shining on Argentina, the light of freedom, and the rising of the country. It all makes you want to put on your shades and enjoy a sunny day on the beach in Argentina.
Barbados is a tropical paradise, but things have not always been sunny in the history of this Caribbean Island. Colonized by the British in the 17th century, the island became a major center for growing sugarcane. Tragically, enslaved Africans were transported and forced to work on plantations there until slavery was abolished in 1834. When Barbados gained independence in 1960, the country chose a vertical tricolor flag with two broad bands of blue and a golden band in the center. These represent the natural environment: the sand, sea, and sky. But the coolest part is the black trident head in the center. It was inspired by the trident of the Greek sea god Poseidon. The Trident is detached from its shaft to represent the broken power of colonialism. It looks amazing, even more so when you realize what it means.
Bhutan is a reclusive Buddhist kingdom high in the Himalayas between India and China. It is a top choice among the coolest country flags. I mean, any flag with a big dragon on it must be the coolest flag ever, right? And it gets even cooler because the name of Bhutan in the local language is “Druk Yul,” which means “land of the thunder dragon!” Ok everybody, FIELD TRIP!
This stunning flag divides diagonally into yellow and orange sections. These two bright colors create a unique color scheme in world flags. The yellow color symbolizes the secular aspect of life in Bhutan, while the orange color represents the strength and prominence of Buddhism in the country. The white dragon represents purity, and the jewels in its talons represent the country’s wealth. The body of the dragon follows the diagonal line of the flag. No matter where you’re from, this one is definitely cool enough to display in your house.
Botswana is a Southern African nation that became independent from the British Empire in 1966. Its flag is a field of light blue with a black horizontal stripe in the center, which has a white trim. There are several interpretations of the meaning of these colors. One theory is that the blue symbolizes water, while the black and white stripes commemorate the zebra, the national animal of Botswana. Some also interpret the colors to represent the various ethnic groups living in the country and hope for their peaceful coexistence. But to the simple observer, this flag looks like it’s wearing a martial arts blackbelt! That’s cool by any definition!
This country is in the Caucasus Mountains between Turkey and Russia that won independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Georgia got its name from St. George, a Christian saint and soldier in the Roman army. He was martyred for refusing to renounce his faith. Since at least the time of the Crusades, he is venerated as a military saint.
The flag of Georgia features a large red St. George cross that covers the entire flag and four smaller red crosses in the middle of each quarter, all on a white background. The cross is similar to the cross of Jerusalem, which the conquerors of the Holy Land used. The cross was popular in monasteries to demonstrate their faith. Georgia’s flag looks cool and has a story connected with faith and sacrifice that many find inspiring. Oh, and Georgia the state? It’s not named for the country, or for St. George. It’s named after British King George II, who gave the state its charter in 1732.
We already showed you a flag of a frozen land that isn’t yet an independent country (Antarctica), but could we have just one more? Because this one is pretty awesome too. Greenland is the world’s largest island and is located mainly above the Arctic Circle to the northeast of Canada. It’s a self-governing part of Denmark that might become fully independent in the future. As part of the deal, Greenland designed its amazing flag, which is one of the coolest we’ve seen.
It consists of two broad horizontal bands of white and red with a circle cut out left to center. Outside of the circle, the colors reverse. What does it mean? The colors are those of the Danish flag but with a unique meaning in Greenland. The white symbolizes the ice cap that covers 80% of the island. The red stripe stands for the ocean. The red semicircle stands for the sun and the white semicircle represents icebergs. It also looks like the setting sun is reflecting on the sea. This super simple design is clever and elegant and looks like a work of modern art.
The flag of Kiribati, a small island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, consists of a red field with a large golden frigate bird flying over a golden rising sun. The sun has 17 rays that represent the islands that make up the nation. The sun’s position on the flag suggests Kiribati’s location astride the Equator. The bottom half of the flag has six alternating blue and white wavy stripes representing the Pacific Ocean. What’s not to love here? This flag definitely belongs on the cool list.
The flag of Mexico is composed of three vertical stripes of equal width, green, white, and red. Centered in the white strips is the national coat of arms, which features a golden eagle sitting on a cactus with a snake in its beak and talons. The eagle is said to symbolize strength and courage. The green color symbolizes hope, the white represents unity, and the red stands for the blood of the national heroes. The flag was adopted in 1821 after Mexico gained its independence from Spain. What’s not cool about an eagle with a snake sitting on a cactus? A strong flag for strong people.
The flag of Nepal, which was adopted in 1962 along with the country’s constitution, is an unusual shape consisting of two triangles stacked on top of each other, both bordered by a blue stripe making it a top choice among the coolest country flags. Nepal is the only country that flies a national flag that is not rectangular. How did it get this uber-cool design? Well, as it turns out, triangular flags were pretty common in Southeast Asia, historically. However, under European influence, most countries switched to rectangular flags.
Nepal’s flag combines the features of pennants of two rival branches of the royal Rana dynasty that ruled the country in the past. The designs of the sun and crescent moon express the hope that Nepal will stay independent and united as long as the sun and moon last. The flag’s colors stand for bravery (red) and peace (blue). Some people also suggest the serrated edge of the flag recalls the Himalayan Mountains, where Nepal is situated. It’s a beautiful design, but that’s not what won us over. The one-of-a-kind shape of this national flag earned it a spot on our cool list. Nepal, you had us at “triangular.”
Check out the flag of Sri Lanka! It features a lion carrying a sword. Tell us that isn’t cool! The “Lion Flag” of Sri Lanka was officially adopted in 1948, but it had been used to symbolize justice for a long time before that. The flag features a yellow lion on a dark red background, holding a sword as a symbol of power. On the hoist side of the flag are green and orange vertical bands representing the Muslim and Hindu minorities living on the island alongside the Sinhalese majority.
Finally, four leaves in the corners of the lion’s red field each symbolize Buddhist values such as kindness, compassion, contributing to society, peace, and a well-balanced mind. The whole flag has a gold border, with a border separating the lion’s field from the striped bands as well. Overall, it’s a strikingly unique and beautiful flag that looks like it belongs in a fairytale kingdom. Vacation to Sri Lanka anyone?
The flag of Ukraine features two horizontal stripes of light blue, representing the sky, and yellow, representing the country’s fertile wheat fields at harvest time. Throughout its history, Ukraine has experienced many changes in its territory. It was an independent state under Kievan Rus in the 10th and 11th centuries, but later became part of Lithuania. After gaining independence, it was once again annexed, this time to Russia and then the Soviet Union. It achieved independence once again in 1991.
Currently, the Ukrainian flag holds tremendous importance not only to Ukrainians but to the country’s friends all over the world because of its struggle with Russia over control of its eastern and southern territories. Throughout its history, Ukraine has faced tremendous challenges and persevered. That makes its simple flag design a cool symbol of a land that endures and overcomes all obstacles.
The United Kingdom’s flag, the Union Jack, is one of the coolest country flags. In today’s world, it reminds many people of fashionable British music, cars, clothing, and other cultural exports. But it’s also cool because of its historical significance. The overlapping crosses on the flag honor different parts of the United Kingdom. The red cross in the center represents St. George, England’s patron saint. The white diagonal cross is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron of Scotland. The red diagonal cross is for St. Patrick, who of course represents Ireland. Due to its history and modern popularity, the Union Jack earned itself a spot on our cool flag list.
What do you think? Did we leave out any cool flags? Have a look at all the flags of the world at this site and make your own choices: Every Flag In The World: Photos, History, and More
Summary of the 14 Coolest Country Flags of All Time
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