Green, White, and Green Flag: Nigeria Flag History, Meaning, and Symbolism

the flag of Nigeria
© Efasein/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Gaeng

Updated: March 10, 2023

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Natural landmarks and animal reserves draw visitors to Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea. Information suggests that the population of Nigeria speaks close to 520 distinct languages. However, 9 of the languages have died off in recent history. The flag of Nigeria was created in 1959 and first flown on October 1, 1960. The flag features alternating green, white, and green vertical bars. The white border symbolizes peace, while the two green buildings stand for Nigeria’s abundant natural resources. The flag of Nigeria is the subject of this article, in which its origins, meaning, and symbolism will be discussed.

The Flag of Nigeria History

the flag of Nigeria

The flag of Nigeria is a vertical tricolor flag in green, white, and green.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

Late 17th Century

Beginning in the second part of the 17th century, the British kings and rulers of various countries entered into agreements with the British government about the trafficking of slaves in order to gain control of those regions. These territories did not have official flags or a single emblem that could be used to signify them all because of the diversity of the local cultures and religions. Instead, they used a combination of symbols.

1914 – 1959

In 1914, the year that the colony and protectorate of Nigeria were originally founded, the process of picking a flag and emblem that would be utilized throughout the colony began. This was done so that the colony would have a unified representation of its identity. Between 1914 and 1959, the flag of Nigeria was a British blue ensign with a green six-pointed star identified as the Seal of Solomon centered on a red disc bearing a white Tudor Crown. The crown was later modified to a St. Edward’s Crown in 1953.

In 1958, as part of the continuous fight for independence, a national planning committee announced that there would be a competition to select a national flag. The winner of the competition would be chosen by popular vote. There were tens of thousands of detailed designs to choose from.

In 1959, Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi is credited with coming up with the design that ultimately won for the flag. When Michael came up with the concept for a new flag for Nigeria, he was a student at Norwich Technical College and he was 23 years old at the time. The original conception of the Nigerian flag included a red burning sun symbol in the middle of a white vertical stripe, with two green bands on either side of the design. However, the insignia wasn’t included in the final product.

Nigeria, like many other countries, has a relatively straightforward flag design because of the country’s extremely diversified population. A more intricate pattern might have made it more evident that certain ethnic and cultural groups were being lauded at the expense of others. This would have been a less-than-desirable outcome for the people.

1960 – Independence Day

Although his design did not initially receive acceptance everywhere, Taiwo Akinkunmi’s altered design became the country’s official flag. The flag was adopted shortly before Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. On October 1, 1960 (Independence Day), it was formally adopted and flown for the first time in a public setting. The judges removed the symbol from the flag. However, it has not undergone any changes of any kind since its official adoption.

The Flag of Nigeria Design and Colors

The flag is based on the 1959 competition-winning design by Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi. To the contest, he contributed a triband pattern with a white central band and two green outer bands. In the flag’s white vertical center was a red sun with rays spreading outward. Although he did win the competition, the judges cut out the red sun and left only a green and white tricolor flag.

The Flag of Nigeria Symbolism

The flag of Nigeria

The flag of Nigeria may seem simple, but it holds a lot of meaning to its people.

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Although flags of ethnically diverse nations, like Nigeria, tend to be less ornate and simpler so as not to offend any particular ethnic group or religion, the significance of the flag of Nigeria resides not in its basic design but rather in the meaning that may be derived from it symbolically. The flag features three horizontal stripes that are all the same width. The stripes that are visible from the outside are green, while the stripe that is visible from the interior is white. The nation is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, which are represented by the green stripes on the flag. The white stripe on the flag stands for peace in the nation.

Click here to learn about every single flag in the world!


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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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