The Flag of Guatemala: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: November 30, 2022
© bodrumsurf/
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The national flag of Guatemala is known as “Pabellón Nacional,” which translates to “National Flag.” It is also referred to as “Azul y Blanco,” which translates to “Blue and White.” The flag of Guatemala has rich symbolism, history, and meaning. A vertical triband flag in the colors of blue, white, and blue with a coat of arms in the middle appears on all of the official flags for Guatemala. The national flag of Guatemala is one of four UN member states whose flags feature a gun. The other states are Mozambique, Haiti, and Bolivia. Continue reading below to learn more about Guatemala’s history and flag!

A Brief Historical Overview of Guatemala

flag of Guatemala
The flag of Guatemala filing outside the National Palace in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

©Diego Grandi/

Guatemala had a lengthy history of authoritarian governance and military governments until it was placed under democratic control in 1985, after obtaining its independence from Spain in the 1820s. The civil war in Guatemala began in 1954 and lasted for 36 years until peace agreements were reached in 1996 as a result of the government’s struggle against fierce revolutionary opposition. When Rigoberta Mench, a supporter of indigenous people all across Latin America, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, the hardships of Guatemala’s Indians during the war years came into the open.

Early in the twenty-first century, sluggish economic and political restoration was still going on. Since 1996, campaigns have been held on a regular basis. However, political solutions have rarely been reached due to the abundance of transient political parties. Many voters have been worried about a military takeover since the early years of the twenty-first century.

Flag of Guatemala History

flag of guatemala
The original colors of the flag of Guatemala were reinstated on August 17, 1871, fashioned in vertical stripes.


The Spanish Empire ruled the Kingdom of Guatemala as the Captaincy General of Guatemala from 1609 until 1821. The cross in burgundy served as the local flag at this time. After Mexico’s brief rule (1821–1833), the provinces of Central America united under a federation. The magnificent quetzal was displayed on the flag of Los Altos in the 1830s, the sixth state in the Federal Republic. The national flag and coat of arms were flown in a variety of forms thereafter. By 1840 political conflicts between the Liberals and the Conservatives caused a civil war, which resulted in the dissolution of the five countries. As a result, on November 14, 1843, Guatemala unfurled a new flag with the volcanoes seen on the coat of arms of Antigua Guatemala, the nation’s historic capital.

Up until 1851, when a pro-Spanish faction assumed control, the Guatemalan flag was the Federal Republic of Central America. It was then altered to incorporate the Spanish colors yellow and red. It wasn’t until 1871 that the current standard flag of Guatemala was presented. The original colors were reinstated on August 17, 1871. However, to distinguish it from other flags, they were fashioned in vertical stripes as opposed to horizontal ones. A modern coat of arms was also introduced. The Bandera de Los Pueblos or Indigenous Peoples’ Flag was officially adopted in 2008. It has flown beside the Guatemalan flag at all events when the president of the nation is there.

Flag of Guatemala Design and Colors

In the center of the flag is the Guatemalan coat of arms in addition to the magnificent quetzal, (Guatemala’s national bird and a symbol of liberty.)  It has a parchment scroll with the date of Central America’s independence from Spain (September 15, 1821). It also has crossed Remington rifles, a bay laurel crown, a symbol of victory, and crossed swords. This stand for honor.

White and blue make up the colors of the Guatemalan flag. The two sky-blue stripes on Guatemala’s flag represent the sky above the nation and the Caribbean Sea, which separates the Pacific and Atlantic seas. White is a color that stands for peace and purity. Many other countries in the region adopted the blue and white colors from the flag. The flag has a white and light blue vertical triband. The white band is sandwiched between two light blue bands on the hoist and fly borders of the flag.

Flag of Guatemala Symbolism

flag of Guatemala
Quote “Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong”

©ibrandify gallery/

The flag of Guatemala powerfully depicts peace, purity, and protection, as shown by its colors, design, and history. Although the flag of Guatemala bares a striking resemblance to a number of other Central American flags, it also includes a number of distinctive elements. It is neither the first flag to be acknowledged as a national symbol of Guatemala, nor is it the only one still in use. However, it has been in use for more than a century.

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flag of guatemala
© bodrumsurf/

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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