The Flag of Haiti: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

flag of Haiti
© Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Gaeng

Published: December 31, 2022

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The national flag of Haiti represents the Republic of Haiti. It is a red and blue flag with the Haitian coat of arms in the center. The symbol of the coat of arms is a significant one that features multiple national flags flanking a palm tree topped by a liberty cap. It also features rifles, a cannon, hatchets, anchors, and masts in the background. The French slogan: “L’Union fait la force” meaning “Union makes strength” is also included. The flag of Haiti is one of only 7 national flags that actually features a depiction of their flag on the flag itself. In this post, we’ll delve deeper into the Haitian flag, discussing its background, significance, and associated symbols.

The Flag of Haiti History

flag of Haiti

Haiti flag isolated on the blue sky with a clipping path. The flag of Haiti dates back to the year 1803.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

1803 – 1805

About 50 miles to the north of Port-au-Prince, on the final day of the Congress of Arcahaie (18 May 1803), the first true Haitian flag was adopted. The French king was depicted on a blue shield bearing three fleurs-de-lis on a white background, which served as the flag. For just two brief years following the revolution, Haiti flew a vertical bicolor flag of black and red.

Dessalines instituted a new constitution on May 20, 1805, after he was proclaimed Emperor Jacques I the previous day. In it, black and red were substituted for the original flag’s colors. Since Henri Christophe had already adopted this flag, the republicans led by Alexandre Pétion simply reverted to blue and red, this time arranging the colors in a horizontal fashion and adding the recently acquired coat of arms for Haiti.

1811 – 1814

In the years between 1811 and 1814, the flag featured a golden depiction of two lions clutching a shield upon which a bird rose from the ashes. A blue disc with a gold crown was placed in the center of this design in 1814. In 1848, the flag we see today was adopted, but its central image—two lions carrying a shield with a bird—was replaced by the royal palm tree we see today.

1964 – 1986

There was a reversion to Dessalines’ black and red pattern under the Duvalier family dictatorship (1964–1986). Even though they included the national coat of arms, they made the flags in their trophy black.

1806

In 1806, while Alexandre Pétion was president of Haiti, the country adopted the current design. On February 25, 2012, it was re-adopted.

The Flag of Haiti Design

The flag of Haiti is a bicolor flag with blue and red horizontal bars and a white rectangular panel with the coat of arms of Haiti centered in the middle. As required by the Constitution, the white field is almost never depicted as a perfect square. The Haitian Ministry of Information and Coordination has been using an 11:9 aspect ratio rectangle since at least 1987.

The Haitian Coat of Arms

the flag of Haiti

Close-up view of the Haiti national flag waving in the wind. The coat of arms for Haiti is their national emblem and is the focal point of the Haitian flag.

©rarrarorro/Shutterstock.com

Haiti’s coat of arms is also the national emblem of the Republic of Haiti. It debuted in 1807, but its current form didn’t appear until 1986. This Haitian sign may be regarded as a national emblem rather than a coat of arms because it does not follow the usual heraldic guidelines.

Behind a palm tree and some cannons on a verdant lawn are six draped national flags, three on each side.  The lawn is littered with odds and ends, such as a drum, bugles, cannonballs, and ship anchors. A symbol of freedom, a liberty cap, has been placed over the palm tree.

L’Union fait la force which translates to “Unity gives strength” in french, appears on the ribbon, as it does on the flags of various other countries.

The Flag of Haiti Symbolism

The current flag of Haiti features a blue upper band and a red lower band. The color red represents the bloodshed and the losses suffered by the Haitian people during the Revolution, while the color blue represents hope and unity. L’union fait la force, “In unity, we discover strength,” is the motto on the flag. In the middle of the flag is the coat of arms, which displays a trophy of weapons poised to protect the freedom of the people, and a royal palm, a symbol of Haiti’s political independence.

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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