The Flag of Bahamas: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Alan Lemus
Published: December 7, 2022
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A country’s flag is its symbol of pride and is respected by the people. It also signifies independence. In the past, flags were used mostly in warfare to distinguish between friend and enemy, but not anymore. 

The Bahamian flag is the official flag of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Its colors tell a lot about the country’s history, heritage, and people.

Officials carefully chose the colors on any flag, with each color signifying an essential aspect of the country. This also applies to the Bahamian flag, as every color has a deeper meaning. 

The flag of the Bahamas tells the whole story of the country it represents. To learn more about the Bahamas, you must understand the meaning of the colors on the country’s flag.

The Bahamian flag has come a long way since 1869, when the British introduced it under their rule.

Today, we discover the history, meaning, and symbolism of the flag of the Bahamas.

History of the Flag of the Bahamas

Flag of The Bahamas

The colors of the flag of the Bahamas tell a lot about the country’s history, heritage, and people.

©Creative Photo Corner/


The Bahamas is located a few kilometers from the southeast of Florida, in the United States, and north of Cuba. The islands became a crown colony of the United Kingdom in 1717. 

At the time of the colonialists, the flag was a blue ensign with the flag of Great Britain in the canton and the badge of the Bahama islands on the right side. 

This badge pictured a British ship chasing two pirate vessels on the high seas. In essence, it portrays the British as saviors, having rescued the islands from the stranglehold of pirates.

Around the badge was the phrase “Expulsis Piratis Restituta Commercia.” This translates to “Pirates Expelled, Commerce Restored.” It also has a crown at the top.

Under colonial occupation, there were only minor changes to the badge. Between 1904 and 1923, the crown on the crest was changed to a domed crown. Between 1923 and 1953, it became a Tudor crown. From 1953 to 1964, it featured St. Edward’s crown. 


From 1964 to 1973, the flag of the Bahamas went back to the British blue ensign, then the red ensign. 

Before the current flag of the Bahamas came into use, there were eleven variations, although the blue ensign and the Bahamian badge were present in every version.

In 1965, Britain granted the Bahamas internal autonomy, ushering in an earnest search for the country’s flag. 

A contest was planned to determine the design of the new national flag. The current flag came into being from this contest’s submissions. 

Officials did not choose a single design, but merged several ideas from the submissions, to develop the current flag. The contest produced neither winner nor loser; it instead created the spirit of inclusion. The government gave credit for the design to Rev. Dr. Hervis Bain, a Bahamian artist who also designed the country’s coat of arms.

The Bahamas attained independence from the British in 1973, and the current flag was hoisted for the first time at midnight on their Independence Day (July 10, 1973). This followed the adoption of the coat of arms in December 1971. This flag was one of the few designed for a specific nation before actual independence. 

“March on, Bahamaland” is the Bahamas’ national anthem, adopted officially at the same time as the flag. Timothy Gibson composed it. 

To date, the national flag has not changed.

Other Flags Used in the Bahamas

Other flags have been introduced to serve different purposes. An example of such a flag is the civil ensign. This has a white cross on a red background, with the islands’ flag in the upper left corner (canton). Privately owned vessels fly this flag at sea. 

Another flag is the naval ensign, which has a red cross on a white background and the national flag in the canton. The third one, the state ensign, has a blue cross on a white field and the Bahamian flag in the canton. 

In addition to these, other flags have been flown, and some continue to be flown to date. Here are some of the most common flags.

Flag of the Governor-General

The flag of the Governor-General came into use in 1973. It has a lion standing atop St. Edward’s crown with the country’s name written beneath it.

The Queen’s Flag

The queen’s flag flew in the Bahamas from 1973 to 2022. The flag has the letter ‘E’ in gold. It is surrounded by golden-colored rose flowers against a blue field with golden edges. The crown symbolizes the rank of their monarch, while the roses represent the Commonwealth countries.

The Flag of the Prime Minister

The flag of the Prime Minister came into use in 1973 to date. It is the same as the national flag but contains a gold parliamentary mace across the three horizontal stripes.

The Parliamentary Flag

The parliamentary flag, which came into use in 1973, has a green background with the coat of arms centrally placed.

Flag of the Senate

The flag of the Senate also came into use in 1973. The background is red, with a coat of arms in the center.

Meaning and Symbolism of the Bahamian Flag

The Bahamas is a beautiful country surrounded by aqua water with amazing white and pink sandy beaches. The flag’s colors describe its strengths, plus other attractive features.

The colors represent the Bahamian people’s culture, political alignment, and religious beliefs. The flag comprises only three colors: black, aquamarine, and gold. These colors describe the country powerfully, leaving nothing out. 

Let’s look at the colors and what they symbolize for the country. 


The black color is in an equilateral triangle at the hoist, facing the center. Most people here are black, courtesy of their African slave ancestors. This dark color symbolizes the aspirations of the Bahamian people and shows their strength through unity. 

The design reflects the natural environment (sun, land, and sea). Its position, pointing towards the center, represents people’s determination and willingness to do all they can to utilize the country’s natural resources on land and sea. 


The top and bottom stripes of the flag are aquamarine in color. This symbolizes the water of the Caribbean Sea surrounding the country. The country comprises nearly 700 islands, with only around forty occupied. It has over 2,000 cayes.

The island in the Bahamas with the highest population of around 70% is New Providence, where the capital city Nassau is located. This island is the commercial hub of the Bahamas, with over 400 banks and countless hotels. The other most populated islands are the Grand Bahama and Abaco, with a population of about 15%.

Tourism is the backbone of the Bahamian economy. With the beautiful beaches and cays and the sunny weather, the islands make for a great holiday destination. The tourism sector, therefore, has the largest percentage of the workforce. 

Offshore banking also thrives here due to its exemption from income tax, corporate tax, or wealth tax. This has encouraged numerous rich people and big companies on and outside of the Island to keep their money in these banks. Agriculture comes in third, bringing in money from orange and lemon farming.


Gold, the third color on the flag, is sandwiched between the aquamarine color stripes and depicts the shining sun and the land’s natural resources. The land-based resources include beautiful sandy beaches, which greatly attract tourists worldwide. 

The climate in the Bahamas is mild throughout the year, with an average temperature of about 21 degrees Celsius to about 27 degrees Celsius in summer.

As one of the most beautiful countries in the world, the Bahamas has become the country of choice in recent times for holidaymakers. Sitting down for breakfast early in the morning in one of the beautiful hotels in Nassau, looking out to the bluest sea, is an experience to die for. 

From exploring Fort Fincastle to walking barefoot on the sand or watching workers weave straw in the market, there is no dull moment in the Bahamas.

Flag Etiquette

There are certain protocols to observe to show respect for the flag of the Bahamas. They include:

  • The flag should never drag on the ground, no matter what.
  • A tattered or faded flag should not fly.
  • When more than one flag is raised, the national flag shall always be on the left.
  • The national flag should raise first and come down last. This shows sovereignty.
  • Disposal of a flag should be dignified.
  • Fourth, the national flag should fly during the day. If, in any case, it has to fly at night, there should be ample lighting.

Because of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1976, amended in 1982, the Bahamian flag has become the preferred flag of convenience for many ships around the world. This law allows people to easily register any vessel, domestic or foreign, in the Bahamas. Therefore, the Bahamas Maritime Authority focuses on maintaining the best reputation and high standards on Bahamian flag vessels. 

Registering a vessel under the Bahamian flag offers certain advantages, including the following:

  • Due to its insistence on quality, the Bahamian Maritime Authority encourages all vessels seeking to register with them to ensure they meet internationally accepted standards.
  • It does not allow the registration of old vessels unless they meet very strict criteria. This ensures that all vessels flying the Bahamian flag are in tip-top shape.
  • They have nautical inspectors to ensure the safety of both vessels and crew.

Foreigners can hold a title to a Bahamian flag vessel, either directly or indirectly, irrespective of their nationality.

Final Thoughts

The Bahamas is a fantastic country with beautiful sandy beaches and friendly people. Its flag is just as beautiful, with colors and symbols carrying different meanings. The flag represents the country’s exciting history and rich heritage.

Up Next…

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sparrowbh/


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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.

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