18 Countries With a Cross on Its Flag, and The Meaning of Each

Written by Chanel Coetzee
Updated: July 13, 2023
© iStock.com/eugenesergeev
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National flags have all kinds of meanings. Most countries regard their flag as a symbol of unity and remind citizens of their country’s culture and history. Different colors and designs are carefully thought out and carry different meanings. There are many countries which have a cross on their flags. Also, these crosses mean and represent different things. For example, the St. George cross symbolizes an act of extreme heroism, and the Nordic cross symbolizes Christianity. Crosses are quite popular images to use on flags, and countries such as Iceland, Greece, Fiji, Norway, and many others have crosses on their flags. Here is a look at 18 countries with a cross on their flag and the meaning of each.

1. Iceland

When Iceland gained independence from Demark on 17 June 1944, its current flag was officially adopted. Furthermore, the colors do not have any particular significance, yet some people believe it represents the three elements that created the island: water, ice, and fire. However, the blue, white, and red reflect historical links with Norway. Lastly, the cross embodies Iceland’s ties with the rest of the Nordic countries.

The Icelandic flag is red, blue, and white, with a Scandinavian cross taking up the center of the flag.
The cross embodies Iceland’s ties with the rest of the Nordic countries.

©iStock.com/ayvengo

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2. Australia

The Australian flag features three colors: white, red, and blue. The flag features the Commonwealth Star, with seven points representing the six states and Commonwealth Australian territories. It also contains three crosses: the Cross of St. George, the Cross of St. Andrew, and the Cross of St. Patrick. These crosses symbolize freedom of speech and the rights and responsibilities of citizens, parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law. Lastly, the white Southern Cross represents the country’s location in the Southern Hemisphere.

Australian flag
The Australian flag features three colors: white, red, and blue. Furthermore, the Union flag symbolizes Australia’s history as a British colony.

©iStock.com/29mokara

3. Northern Ireland

The flag of Northern Ireland, or the Ulster Banner, is based on the flag of Ulster. In 1953 the Ulster Banner was adopted as the Stormont administration’s official flag of Northern Ireland. It is based on the St. George’s Cross; however, it is seen as staunchly loyalist because of the Red Hand of Ulster, the Star of David, and the Crown.

Ulster Banner
In 1953 the Ulster Banner was adopted as the Stormont administration’s official flag of Northern Ireland.

©Steve Allen/Shutterstock.com

4. England

The England flag, also known as the St. George’s Cross, is the state flag of Great Britain, which is part of the United Kingdom. St. George is known as the patron saint of England. This flag was first used in the Late Middle Ages, and in 1606 the Flag of England was incorporated into the Union Jack, which is the flag of the United Kingdom. Lastly, the color white symbolizes peace, and red represents toughness and bravery.

United Kingdom flag
This flag was first used in the Late Middle Ages, and in 1606 the Flag of England was incorporated into the Union Jack, which is the flag of the United Kingdom.

©MP_Foto/Shutterstock.com

5. Burundi

Burundi is one of the countries with a cross on its flag. The current flag of Burundi was adopted in 1967. It has three colors on a horizontal rectangle which are red, white, and green. Additionally, it is divided by a white diagonal cross into two red triangles. In the center of the flag is a white disk with three red six-sided stars outlined in green.

The three green stars symbolize the country’s national motto, “Unité, Travail, Progrès,” and mean unity, work, and progress. Also, the three stars in the middle of the flag represent the loyalty the citizens promised to God, the country, and the king, as well as the country’s three main communities of the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The green in the flag represents optimism and hope. The red color represents the blood shed when Burundi fought for independence from Belgium in 1962. Lastly, the white represents peace and purity.

Burundi flag
Burundi’s flag is divided by a white diagonal cross into two red triangles.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

6. Switzerland

The flag of Switzerland dates back to the 14th century when it was the emblem of Swiss soldiers. In 1848, when Switzerland’s federal constitution was adopted, the red square with the white cross became the official national flag. Furthermore, unlike most other flags, it is square and not rectangular. Its roots go back to the battle of Laupen in 1339. Some people believe the red background symbolizes the blood of Christ. However, others think that the red background comes from the Bernese flag at that time. Lastly, the square shape came from the military coat of arms at the time.

Flag of Switzerland also known as the Swiss flag
The flag of Switzerland dates back to the 14th century when it was the emblem of Swiss soldiers.

©iStock.com/mehmetbuma

7. The Dominican Republic

Designed by Concepción Bona and María Trinidad Sánchez, the flag of the Dominican Republic was flown for the first time in 1844. It consists of a massive white cross in the middle which divides the insignia into four rectangles with the country’s coat of arms in the center. The rectangles are ultramarine and vermillion red. Interestingly, the blue symbolizes the sky from which God protects the country. Furthermore, the red represents the blood spilled in the war for independence. Lastly, the white symbolizes peace and the Union of the Dominican people. 

Flag of the Dominican Republic
The flag of the Dominican Republic consists of a massive white cross in the middle which divides the insignia into four rectangles with the country’s coat of arms in the center.

©N. Vector Design/Shutterstock.com

8. Denmark

The flag of Denmark is also known as the Dannebrog and is the oldest continuously used flag in the world. It consists of a red background with a white cross that is off-center. There is a local legend that the Danish flag fell from the heavens during a battle in 1219 which helped the Danes clinch victory. Like many other flags, the white represents Christianity. Also, the red symbolizes battle. Lastly, the kings of Denmark have used the colors white and red for thousands of years.

The flag of Denmark
There is a local legend that the Danish flag fell from the heavens during a battle in 1219 which helped the Danes clinch victory.

©iStock.com/A-Basler

9. Fiji

The flag of Fiji is set on a sky blue background with the British Union flag in the top left-hand corner and the country’s shield of the coat of arms center right. The coat of arms was adopted in 1908. On the coat of arms, you can see the red cross of St. George on a white background. Furthermore, in the panels on the shield are a palm tree, bananas, a dove, sugar cane, and a golden lion holding a cocoa pod.

The main colors on the flag are white, red, light blue, and dark blue. However, the coat of arms also has green and golden yellow. The blue background represents the Pacific Ocean which is important to the country because of the fishing sector and tourism. The Union Jack symbolizes Fiji’s connection to the United Kingdom. Also, the golden lion holding the cocoa pod shows this country’s connection to the United Kingdom. Finally, the shield divided into quarters highlights the country’s agricultural aspects: coconut palm, sugar cam, peace dove, and bananas.

flag of Fiji
The main colors on the flag are white, red, light blue, and dark blue.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

10. Greece

Greece is one of the countries with a cross on its flag. This country’s flag consists of only two colors. It has four white and five blue horizontal stripes that alternate. Furthermore, it has a white cross in the top left-hand corner. The flag of Greece is made up of the national colors of Greece. The blue represents the sea and sky. Whereas the white represents the purity of the Greek independence struggle. Also, the cross symbolizes Christianity, and the nine white and blue stripes represent the nine syllables of the Greek motto “Eleftheria I Thanatos,” which is Greek for freedom or death.  

The flag of Greece is made up of the national colors of Greece.
The flag of Greece is made up of the national colors of Greece.

©Naypong Studio/Shutterstock.com

11. Finland

Designed by Eero Snellman and Bruno Tuukkanen, the flag of Finland was adopted in the 20th century when the country gained its independence from Russia. The cross on the flag represents that Finland forms part of the Nordic nations. Also, the blue apparently symbolizes the water in the land of a thousand lakes. Lastly, the white represents the snow that covers Finland. 

flag of finland
The cross on the flag represents that Finland forms part of the Nordic nations.

©Mr.Yankittaphak Phoyalo/Shutterstock.com

12. Norway

The flag of Norway goes back to 1821 and is red with an off-center blue cross with a white outline. It was designed by Frederik Meltzer. The cross on the flag symbolizes Christianity. Also, the blue represents Norway’s association with Sweden. In addition, red was added for Denmark. Lastly, the tricolors symbolize Norway’s independence.

flag of Norway
The cross on the flag symbolizes Christianity.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

13. Sweden

Sweden is one of the countries with a cross on its flag. This country’s national colors have been gold, yellow, and blue for many years. Thus, they are used on the flag of Sweden. The background is sky blue with an off-center Scandinavian cross in gold or yellow. The gold or yellow symbolizes generosity, while the blue represents loyalty, justice, vigilance, perseverance, and truth.

Flag of Sweden
This country’s national colors have been gold, yellow, and blue for many years. Thus, they are used on the flag of Sweden.

©iStock.com/tt

14. The Faroe Islands

The flag of this country is called Merkið, which means banner, mark, or ensign. The Faroe Islands first used this flag in 1919. The Faroe Islands flag has a white background with a red cross outlined in blue that is off-center. The white represents Christianity, the sea foam, the pure radiant sky, and the creators of the flag. In addition, the blue symbolizes the Faroe Islands’ bonds with other Nordic countries.

Faroe Islands national flag waving in the wind on a deep blue sky. High quality fabric. International relations concept.
The flag of this country is called Merkið, which means banner, mark, or ensign.
Image: Black Pearl Footage, Shutterstock

©Black Pearl Footage/Shutterstock.com

15. Jamaica

The flag of Jamaica was first used in 1962. It has a gold diagonal cross with four triangles. The top and bottom triangles are green, and the left and right triangles are black. The flag symbolizes “The sun shineth, the land is green, and the people are strong and creative.” The gold represents the natural wealth and beauty of sunlight. In addition, the green symbolizes hope and agricultural resources. Lastly, the black represents the creativity and strength of the people.

Flag of Jamaica
The flag of Jamaica was first used in 1962.

©iStock.com/kckate16

16. New Zealand

The New Zealand flag is also known as the New Zealand Ensign. It has a blue background with The Union Jack in the top left corner, and on the right side are four red stars with white borders representing the Southern Cross. The Union Jack symbolizes the country’s history as a British colony. There are three heraldic crosses: St. George’s Cross of England, St. Patrick’s Cross of Ireland, and St. Andrew’s Cross of Scotland. The Southern Cross can be seen from New Zealand and therefore represents New Zealand’s sky. Furthermore, the red symbolizes the three heraldic crosses. Lastly, blue is used as the background and is also incorporated into the Union Jack.

Flag of New Zealand
The New Zealand flag is also known as the New Zealand Ensign.

©iStock.com/LysenkoAlexander

17. Scotland

Scotland is one of the countries with a cross on its flag. The flag of Scotland dates back to the 12th century and is also known as the Saltire and the “Cross of St. Andrew.” It has a blue background with a big white cross diagonally over the flag. St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, chose to be crucified on a saltire rather than a cross because he felt he was not worthy to endure the same fate as Jesus. The saltire was made from white wood, and St. Andrew wore blue robes, which inspired the flag.

flag of Scotland
The flag of Scotland dates back to the 12th century and is also known as the Saltire and the “Cross of St. Andrew.”

©Royal Graphics/Shutterstock.com

18. Slovakia

The flag of Slovakia has three stripes as a background, including white, blue, and red. You will see the country’s coat of arms on the left-hand side. In addition, the coat of arms is similar to the coat of arms of Hungary and represents the country’s relationship with Hungary. The flag’s three colors are traditional Slavonic shades and symbolize Slavonic harmony and independence. Furthermore, the double cross symbolizes Christianity and the memory of St. Methodius and St. Cyril, two missionaries who went to Moravia in 863 to help strengthen Christianity there. Lastly, the three hills stand for the mountains Fatra, Matra, and Tatra. 

flag of Slovakia
The flag’s three colors are traditional Slavonic shades and symbolize Slavonic harmony and independence.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

Summary of 18 Countries With a Cross on Its Flag

NumberCountry with a Cross on Its FlagMeaning
1IcelandEmbodies Iceland’s ties with the rest of the Nordic countries
2AustraliaFreedom of speech & the rights and responsibilities of citizens, parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law
3Northern IrelandBased on the St. George’s Cross; it is seen as staunchly loyalist because of the Red Hand of Ulster, the Star of David, and the Crown
4EnglandKnown as the St. George’s Cross, the white symbolizes peace & red toughness & bravery
5BurundiThe white represents peace and purity
6SwitzerlandThe square shape came from the military coat of arms at the time
7The Democratic RepublicThe white symbolizes peace and the Union of the Dominican people
8DenmarkThe white represents Christianity
9FijiThe Union Jack symbolizes Fiji’s connection to the United Kingdom. The cross of St. George on the shield divided into quarters highlights the country’s agricultural aspects: coconut palm, sugar cam, peace dove, and bananas
10GreeceThe white represents the purity of the Greek independence struggle
11FinlandThis represents that Finland forms part of the Nordic nations; the blue symbolizes the water in the land of a thousand lakes
12NorwayThe cross on the flag symbolizes Christianity
13SwedenGold or yellow symbolizes generosity; blue represents loyalty, justice, vigilance, perseverance, and truth
14The Faroe IslandsBlue symbolizes the Faroe Islands’ bonds with other Nordic countries
15JamaicaGold represents the natural wealth and beauty of sunlight
16New ZealandRepresents the Southern Cross; the red symbolizes the three heraldic crosses
17Scotlandknown as the Saltire and the “Cross of St. Andrew.”
18SlovakiaSlavonic harmony and independence
Summary Table of 18 Countries With a Cross on Its Flag


The Featured Image

Union Jack
The national flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Jack, also known as the Union Flag waving on wind over blue sky background.
© iStock.com/eugenesergeev

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

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