The Flag of Azerbaijan: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Azerbaijan flag
© Pavlo Lys/Shutterstock.com

Written by Alan Lemus

Updated: January 10, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


Azerbaijan has various landscapes, with over half of the country’s landmass consisting of plateaus, highlands, crests, and mountain ridges. 

The country’s climate is highly influenced by the Central Asian anticyclone, the Siberian anticyclone’s temperate air masses, and the Scandinavian anticyclone’s cold arctic air masses. Azerbaijan’s landscape significantly affects how air masses get into the country.

Azerbaijan’s national flag has been a symbol to represent the country’s distinctive culture. 

The flag of Azerbaijan is also known as Üçrəngli bayraq in Azerbaijani. Before adopting the current flag, a series of other flags were used at different stages of development and during the fight for independence in Azerbaijan. These flags went through several alterations until a final design was found.

Today, we’ll discover the history, meaning, and symbolism of the flag of Azerbaijan.

Map of Azerbaijan and surrounding areas.

Azerbaijan is a part of Europe on the eastern side, touching the Caspian Sea on the west.

©iStock.com/PeterHermesFurian

The History of the Azerbaijan Flag

Azerbaijan is a country located in the southeastern parts of the Caucasian Mountains. It is found between two continents: Europe and Asia. Azerbaijan is a part of Europe on the eastern side and Asia on the western one. It also touches the Caspian Sea on the west.

The majority of Azerbaijan’s population is Turkic-speaking Azerbaijani. The rest comprises a small group who speak a Caucasian language, Armenians, and Russians. The highest number of these people have settled in the urban area

Most Azerbaijani are Muslim. There are also Christians (who worship with the Russian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Church, among others) and other religions. 

Azerbaijan has expanded its gas and petroleum industries and is considered a developed industrial country. It was once one of the leading petroleum producers in the world in the 20th Century. Azerbaijan is also home to natural resources like lead, zinc, natural gas, copper ores, and iron. In addition, various building materials like marl, limestone, and marble are also produced here. 

Agriculture is one of the leading employers in Azerbaijan. Grains and raw cotton are considered the most valuable crops in the country. They are produced in large quantities, contributing to the vast growth of the agricultural sector. Other crops in Azerbaijan are hazelnuts, walnuts, fruits, and early vegetables.

The Länkära, a region in southern Azerbaijan, is known for growing rice, tea, grapes, and tobacco due to the warm climate there. The town is also known for processing agricultural goods. The Tylish, a group of people inhabiting this region, are known for making beautiful carpets and rugs. 

Other than its location, Azerbaijan is known for its rich history. It is considered the home of the millennia-old fine temples and sleek architecture. In addition to its monumental history, it has beautiful art scenes, exciting culture, and delicious food. 

For 80 years, Azerbaijan was a colony of the Russian Empire until 1918. It was declared independent on May 28, 1918, however, this independence lasted for only 23 months. It collapsed in April 1920 after the Soviet Union again invaded it. The Soviets took over Azerbaijan and changed its name to Azerbaijan Soviet Socialists Republic. The formed Republic was now part of the Soviet Union.  

Azerbaijan was subjected to Soviet rule until it gained independence once again. During the colonization period, they used the flag of the Soviet Republic. 

Raw cotton growing in Salyan, Azerbaijan

Raw cotton is considered one of the most valuable crops in Azerbaijan.

©ETIBARNAME/Shutterstock.com

The Flag of the Azerbaijan People’s Republic (1918-1920)

Azerbaijan was declared independent on May 28, 1918. The first action taken after this was to settle on national symbols. They chose a flag inspired by the flag of the Ottoman Empire and was adopted on June 21, 1918. The adopted flag featured a white crescent and a star with eight points featured on a red background. The eight-pointed star was later replaced with a five-pointed one. 

After a few months, it was suggested that the flag be recreated. The argument was that the red flag exclusively represented Turkism. 

A tri-color flag was then presented to illustrate Turkish culture, Muslim culture, and modernization. This idea was influenced by the ideologies of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, who wrote on national unity, the progress of Muslim people, and the progressive statehood of the Europeans.

The tri-color flag created by Ali bey Huseynzade was approved. It was a horizontal tri-color with a crescent and eight-pointed stars. The colors adopted were blue, red, and green. 

The flag was hoisted for the first time on December 7, 1918, during an inauguration of the parliament of the Azerbaijan People’s Republic.

However, on May 3, 1920, the Republic was overthrown by the Red Army of Soviet Russia, and its flag was taken from Parliament buildings.  

The Flag of the Azerbaijan Republic After 1920

When the Soviet Army invaded the Azerbaijan Republic, it used its flag outside the Soviet Union. On April 28, 1920, Azerbaijan became a Soviet Republic and was now known as the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. During this period, the Soviet Republic banned the use of state flags. They instead used unofficial flags used during the Soviet conquest of Baku in 1920. 

On May 19, 1921, Soviet Azerbaijan adopted an official flag. The language during this time was Azerbaijani Turkic, whose alphabet was based on the Arabic script. The flag had a similar design to that of the Soviet national flag.

The Soviet Azerbaijan flag consisted of two colors: the upper side was red, which occupied three-quarters of the flag, and the bottom was black. A harmer and a sickle are located on the top left of the flag.    

Present Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Unrest arose in the late 1980s in Soviet Azerbaijan. The turmoil made the people call for a demonstration and fight for independence. The tricolor flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was used. In November 1990, the flag of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic was adopted as the national flag. On November 12, 1995, the first constitution since independence described the tri-colors.  

In November 2007, a national flag square was created in Baku following a decree by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. The square had a 220 tons flag post and was 162 meters tall. They flew a flag measuring 350 kilograms, 70 meters long, and 35 meters wide.

A museum was built and dedicated to the national flag. The president officially signed the flag to open the museum on September 1, 2010. At the opening ceremony of the flag square, the president emphasized the significance of the national flag. 

As stated in his speech, the flag symbolizes Azerbaijan’s pride, soul, and heart. In addition, it is a symbol of restored territorial integrity. He noted that the flag should be raised even in lands still occupied by colonizers. 

On November 17, 2009, the Day of the State Flag was established. This day is annually celebrated on November 9, considered a non-working day. Azerbaijanis remember their dedication to gaining liberty and use the flag to signify victory.   

The flag of Azerbaijan is usually flown over naval vessels, military headquarters, military courts, and buildings during occasions such as:

  • Public holidays
  • When a military vessel or unit enters another country’s territory
  • When awarding military courts and military units
  • Taking a military oath

The Meaning and Symbolism of the Flag of Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijan flag has three primary colors: blue, red, and green. Inside the red color are a crescent and an eight-pointed star. Each of them has a symbolic meaning.

Blue

Blue means the people of Azerbaijan who are said to have Turkish origin. Various explanations are given why the Turks love blue, but as seen in the ancient monuments they built, most of them were painted blue. 

It is also used symbolically to show the victory of Elkhaniler in the Eighth Century. 

Red

The red color in the middle shows the desire to create a modern society and the quest for democracy. At the end of the 18th Century, significant progress was made in European countries in the development of capitalism. 

During this period, there was a struggle of the proletariat against the capitalist system. In these years, red was turned to be a symbol of Europe.

Green

The largest population in Azerbaijan is Muslim. Therefore, green has been symbolically used to represent the Islamic religion. For example, the Quran associated it with paradise and used it to paint the tomb of Mohammed.

The three colors represent the Muslim civilization, Turkish culture, and modern Europe.   

The Octagonal Star

According to historians, the star stands for eight letters in the word Azerbaijan, written in Arabic. The eight points represent the Turkish people ranked during the pre-Soviet times. 

The flag of Azerbaijan indicates pride, heritage, independence, and identity. 

The flag of Azerbaijan serves as a national symbol representing them globally and indicates pride, heritage, independence, and identity. 

©iStock.com/EA

The State Emblem of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s state emblem is a symbol of independence. It has the draft of the coat of arms — but the modified version. It has a mixture of modern and traditional characters. It has a flame that takes the shape of the word Allah written in Arabic to represent the Muslim population. 

To adopt this symbol, the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan announced a competition to sample different emblem shapes. The winning sample would be adopted. However, by April 28, 1920, the state still needed to announce the winning emblem, as it had been impossible. 

The supreme assembly appealed to the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan for a second time on November 17, 1990. The competition was announced on February 5, 1991, and in January 1993, a new emblem was adopted as the National Emblem of the Azerbaijan Republic. 

The emblem had these specifications as outlined in the constitution of Azerbaijan. 

  • The oriental shield was to be placed on an arch with oak branches and ears. Oak trees were used as a symbol of power and youth in their times. 
  • The shield’s background should contain the colors of the National flag of Azerbaijan. 
  • The emblem is crossed by a stalk of wheat which represents abundance. It has also been used to mean bread, the staple food in Azerbaijan.  
  • A flame is inside the star shape, placed in the middle of the shield. This flame means “the land of fire” as it represents the natural gas and oil resources. 

So, when is the emblem of Azerbaijan ever used?

  • Used in all military tribunals, private offices, all courts, and the inside of the judicial assembly. 
  • The private office and home of the President of Azerbaijan Republic. 
  • Used in diplomatic and trade representation of Azerbaijan Republic. 
  • It is used in parliament buildings and conference halls.
Azerbaijan's state emblem is a symbol of independence.

Azerbaijan’s state emblem is a symbol of independence.

©Atlaspix/Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

As seen above, the adoption of a national flag is tasking. It requires dedication, sacrifice, and intelligence. It took a long time for the Azerbaijan republic to adopt a flag. However, the new flag was well received by the public. To them, it serves as a national symbol representing them globally and indicates pride, heritage, independence, and identity. 

The Army highly appreciates the national flag because it marks the end of battles. These battles demonstrated the Azerbaijan people’s heroism, the military’s glory, and their state’s strength. 

Because of the flag, freedom is enjoyed in territories like Fazuli and Aghdara districts. The flag also symbolizes total liberation. Click here to learn about every single flag in the world!

Up Next


Share this post on:
About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.