Circles or spheres are a design element in many national flags around the world. They often hold symbolic meaning, representing unity, the sun, or even the globe itself. In this article, we take a look at the history and significance of flags that feature circles or spheres. We examine their use in different countries and cultures.
From the red circle in the flag of Bangladesh to the blue celestial sphere of Brazil’s flag, we explore the reasons behind the inclusion of these shapes and the messages they convey. Whether you are a history buff, a flag enthusiast, or simply interested in the significance of national symbols, this article will satisfy your curiosity.
Bonus: we included a 23rd flag as well from a world-famous multinational organization at the end of the article. Can you guess what it is?
Flag of Bangladesh
Bangladesh clearly belongs on our list of flags with circles. The entire design of its flag is a red circle on a green field. This is a simple but powerful symbol. The green is reminiscent of the country’s lush tropical environment.
The blood that was shed by previous generations to achieve independence from Pakistan is represented by the red. The flag began as a symbol of the resistance movement. However, it became a proud national symbol when they achieved independence in 1971.
Flag of Belize
The flag of Belize is royal blue with a white disc in the center. It features the national coat of arms held by a mestizo and an Afro-Caribbean man. Belize is the only country to have humans depicted as a major part of the design of their flag.
The flag has two red stripes at the top and bottom. In all, Belize uses 19 different colors and shades on its flag. It is one of the most colorful flags in the world. One reason for this kaleidoscope is that Belize incorporates the colors of its major political parties in the national flag.
Flag of Brazil
The flag of Brazil is an example of one of the world flags with spheres. It includes a blue celestial globe in a yellow rhombus centered in a green field. The curved band around the globe is inscribed with the national motto “Ordem e Progresso” (“Order and Progress”). The flag’s design symbolizes the sky over Rio de Janeiro on November 15, 1889.
This is the date the Republic of Brazil was declared, and the sky was clear and full of stars. The green field represents the lush tropical forests of Brazil. The stars symbolize the 26 states of Brazil and the Federal District. The flag has been modified on three occasions to add additional stars intended to reflect newly created states.
Flag of Burundi
The national flag of Burundi, adopted in 1962, features a white saltire (diagonal cross). It divides the flag into red and green areas. The center of the saltire includes a white disk with three red six-pointed stars outlined in green. The flag symbolizes peace (white), hopes for future development (green), and the nation’s struggle for freedom (red).
The three stars represent the three ethnic groups in Burundi and the national motto: “Unity, Work, and Progress.” This can also be found on the country’s coat of arms. Additionally, the stars represent the loyalty of citizens to their God, king, and country.
Flag of Dominica
Dominica’s flag, adopted in 1978, includes the national bird, the sisserou parrot. The bird’s color makes this one of only three flags in the world to use the color purple. The others are El Salvador and Nicaragua. The green field stands for the lush vegetation of the island, and the red circle stands for socialism. The 10 stars represent the parishes of the island. The tri-colored cross has multiple meanings: the country’s Christian heritage; its three main ethnic groups; and its fruits, water resources, and soil.
Flag of Ethiopia
The flag of Ethiopia features a tricolor of green, yellow, and red with a gold pentagram on a blue disc in the center. The pentagram stands for the unity of the people of the country. The designers of the flag chose green to represent the agricultural resources of the country. Yellow stands for hope. Red, as in many other national flags, recalls the blood of those who died for their country’s freedom. These colors were adopted by several African countries inspired by Ethiopia’s resistance against foreign occupation and are often referred to as the Pan-African colors when used by African organizations and countries.
Flag of Greenland
Greenland is a self-governing part of Denmark. The flag of Greenland was designed by a Greenland native and features two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red (bottom), representing the country’s ice cap and the ocean. To the hoist side of center is a disk with the same colors reversed, creating an effect that looks like the sun sinking into the ocean and reflected on it, or white ice floating on a red sea. Why use red instead of blue for the ocean? Because the flag intentionally uses the same colors as the flag of Denmark.
Flag of Grenada
The flag of Grenada features two yellow triangles at the top and bottom and two green triangles at the hoist and fly sides. These are surrounded by a red border with six five-pointed yellow stars, three at the top center and three at the bottom center, along with an additional star on a red disc at the center and a nutmeg in the hoist side triangle.
The green color symbolizes the island’s vegetation and agriculture, yellow represents the sun and the warmth and wisdom of Grenadians, and red symbolizes harmony, unity, courage, and vitality. The yellow stars on the red border symbolize the country’s six administrative divisions, the yellow star on the red disc at the center signifies the capital, St. George’s, and the nutmeg symbol alludes to one of the primary agricultural exports of the islands.
Flag of India
India’s flag includes three colors: saffron, white, and India green. The flag was first proposed by Gandhi in 1921. It had a traditional spinning wheel in the center, a symbol closely associated with Gandhi’s goal of self-reliance. Originally the different colors of the flag were intended to represent the different religious groups of the country.
However, this was reconsidered, and they were assigned new meanings such as courage, sacrifice, peace, truth, and faith. The wheel in the center is no longer a spinning wheel. It is the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel that represents the concept of Dharma. Dharma is the law; the way things are supposed to be. It is a concept important to many Asian cultures influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism.
Flag of Japan
The flag of Japan has a white background and a red circle in the center representing the sun. In Japanese culture, the sun is revered as the source of warmth, light, and life itself. According to tradition, this flag was given by the sun goddess Amaterasu as a symbol of her protection. After Japan’s defeat by the Allies in World War II, the occupation authorities forbade the use of the traditional flag. It was restored after Japan achieved its independence again.
Flag of Kazakhstan
The national flag of Kazakhstan features a turquoise background with a gold sun. There are 32 rays above a soaring golden steppe eagle centered on the flag. On the hoist side of the flag, there is a national ornamental pattern called the “ram’s horn” in gold. The blue stands for unity among the people, as well as the outstretched sky.
Additionally, it represents water, so crucial to agriculture in this semi-arid country. The sun represents life, energy, wealth, and abundance, with its rays shaped like grain, symbolizing prosperity. The eagle has been used on the flags of Kazakh tribes for centuries. It represents freedom, power, and the country’s flight to the future.
Flag of Kyrgyzstan
The State Flag of the Kyrgyz Republic consists of a red field with a yellow sun in the center. The sun contains a depiction of the opening at the center of the roof of a traditional nomadic tent (yurt). This the first thing a person sleeping in a yurt would see when they wake up each morning. The red field represents bravery. The sun symbolizes peace and prosperity. Its 40 rays stand for the number of tribes that united to fight against the Mongols.
Flag of Laos
The flag of Laos consists of three horizontal stripes. The middle stripe in blue is twice the height of the top and bottom red stripes. In the middle is a white disc. The current flag was adopted on December 2, 1975, when Laos became a socialist state. The white disk in the center symbolizes the unity of the Lao people or a full moon. Red stands for the blood shed by the Lao people in their struggle for independence from the French colonizers. Laos, along with Cuba, is one of the only Communist countries that does not use communist symbols on its flag.
Flag of Niger
The Flag of Niger consists of horizontal bands of orange, white, and green, with an orange disc in the center. Niger has not officially explained the meaning of the flag’s symbols. One interpretation is that the orange band represents the northern desert, the white represents the Niger River, and the green stands for the fertile areas in the south of the country. The orange disc in the center band stands for the sun or independence.
Flag of North Korea
The flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) features a central red panel. It is bordered above and below by a narrow white stripe and a wide blue stripe. The red panel has a five-pointed red star inside a white circle located off-center toward the hoist side. The red star is a well-known symbol of socialism or communism. The colors of the North Korean flag – red, white, and blue – are national colors. They symbolize respectively: revolutionary traditions; purity, strength, and dignity; and sovereignty, peace, and friendship.
Flag of North Macedonia
The flag of North Macedonia, one of the countries that emerged from Yugoslavia, features the sun. Eight rays extend to the edges of the flag. Miroslav Grčev created it, and the country adopted it on October 5, 1995. The symbol is a reference to the “new sun of Liberty” referred to in the national anthem of North Macedonia.
Flag of Palau
The flag of Palau is a light blue field with a large yellow disk off-center to the hoist-side. Blue represents the sea and the sky, which are so much a part of life in an island nation. Yellow represents the full moon, which is a symbol of peace, purity, and the nation’s independence in Palauan mythology. The country officially adopted the flag on January 1, 1981, when Palau gained its independence from the United States.
Flag of Paraguay
The flag of Paraguay is a red-white-blue triband. The country chose it as the national flag in 1842. Revolutionary Paraguayan leaders selected the same colors as the revolutionary French flag. They wanted to show their love of liberty. Something unusual about this flag is that the front and back look different. The coat of arms is on one side and the seal of the treasury is on the other.
Flag of Portugal
The flag of Portugal is a rectangular bicolor with a green field on the hoist and a red field on the fly. It makes our list of flags with circles or spheres because of the golden globe design centered on the dividing line between these two fields. The national coat of arms of Portugal is over the color boundary at an equal distance from the upper and lower edges. The colors green and red represent the hope of the nation (green) and the blood of those who died defending it (red).
Flag of South Korea
The South Korean national flag has a white background with a red and blue traditional symbol, the Taegeuk, in the center, along with a black trigram in each of the four corners. The white color represents peace and purity, and the Taegeuk symbolizes balance in the world, with the blue half representing the sky and the red half representing the land. The four trigrams represent movement and harmony as fundamental principles and represent the four classical elements.
Flag of Tunisia
The flag of Tunisia is one large red field with a white circle in the center featuring a red crescent and a five-pointed star. Red represents the blood of those who died achieving independence from the Ottoman Empire. White represents peace. The crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam. The five points of the star stand for the Five Pillars of Islam, a central teaching of the religion. Tunisia officially adopted this flag in 1959.
Flag of Uganda
The flag of Uganda consists of 6 horizontal bands of black, yellow, and red. What makes it a flag with a circle, obviously is the white disc at the center that features a grey-crowned crane facing the hoist side. The colors represent the ethnic groups of Africa, sunshine, and brotherhood while the crane symbolizes the country’s progress and was also a military badge of Ugandan soldiers during British rule.
Summary of 23 Different Flags with Circles or Spheres
Here are the 23 different flags with circles of spheres:
|1||Flag of Bangladesh|
|2||Flag of Belize|
|3||Flag of Brazil|
|4||Flag of Burundi|
|5||Flag of Dominica|
|6||Flag of Ethiopia|
|7||Flag of Greenland|
|8||Flag of Grenada|
|9||Flag of India|
|10||Flag of Japan|
|11||Flag of Kazakhstan|
|12||Flag of Kyrgyzstan|
|13||Flag of Laos|
|14||Flag of Niger|
|15||Flag of North Korea|
|16||Flag of North Macedonia|
|17||Flag of Palau|
|18||Flag of Paraguay|
|19||Flag of Portugal|
|20||Flag of South Korea|
|21||Flag of Tunisia|
|22||Flag of Uganda|
|23||Flag of Europe|
BONUS: Flag of Europe
The Council of Europe adopted the European Flag in 1955. Since 1985 it has been the symbol of the European Union. Although the EU is an international organization, not a country, its flag is well-known due to the prominence of European institutions in world affairs. The design is a simple blue flag with a circle of stars. The blue field of the flag represents the western world. The stars lie in a circle to represent unbroken unity.
The number twelve has some traditional meanings of wholeness or completeness, so they chose this as the number of stars for the flag. As the number of countries in the European Union fluctuates over time, the number of stars on the flag stays the same. This represents a hope for full unity in Europe. And with that, our review of 22 (+1) flags with circles or spheres is complete!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © M_Videous/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are the Pan-African colors?
The Pan-African colors are the colors of the Ethiopian flag: green, yellow, and red. They were adopted by other African colors and movements in reference to Ethiopia’s resistance against foreign occupation.
What are two communist countries that do not use any communist symbolism in their flags?
Laos and Cuba.
What does the circle of 12 stars on the European flag represent?
The number 12 is intended to symbolize perfection or a complete number, and the circular arrangement represents unbroken unity. Together the symbolism envisions a perfectly unified Europe.
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