The Flag of Mexico: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Mexico's flag

Written by Heather Hall

Updated: May 31, 2023

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Key Points:
  • The flag of Mexico is green, white, and red, with the national coat of arms in the center.
  • Flag Day in Mexico is celebrated on February 24.
  • Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Mexicans celebrate Independence Day on September 16.

Mexico is officially called the United Mexican States. It is a large country located in the southern part of North America. Mexico is 761,610 square miles in size, and 126 million people live there. There are 32 states, including Mexico City, the capital state. Spanish is the most common language, with 99.2 percent of the population speaking Spanish. Many citizens are Roman Catholic, but there are many other religions are well. More than 50 percent of the people live in the center of Mexico, with the arid northern and tropical southern regions less populated. 

Mexico: Economy and Geography

Mexico has a diverse economy. They produce agricultural products, including corn, wheat, rice, beans, coffee, cotton, fruit, and vegetables. The precious metals industry is a large part of the economy, with the country producing silver, bismuth, and celestite. Mexico also has oil and natural gas reserves and manufactures electrical machinery, chemicals, and vehicles. 

This country has a rich cultural heritage and a varied climate. It has plenty of beautiful geography. You can find everything from swamps, deserts, lowland jungles, and mountains. There is lovely alpine vegetation in the high mountains to behold as well as plateaus surrounded by mountains and dense rainforests. 

There are many attractive sights in Mexico, including the pyramids of Teotihuacan, one of which stands 207 feet tall. Trees and brightly painted gondolas line the canals of Xochimilco. Cenote pools cover the Yucatan terrain. The highlands contain Mayan art, including intricate woven fabrics. Mexico has it all, from beaches and ranches to cities and mountain peaks.

The Flag of Mexico: Description

Mexico flag

The flag of Mexico is red, green, and white, with the coat of arms in the center.


The flag of Mexico features three vertical stripes of equal size. The left stripe is green, the middle white, and the right stripe is red. The national coat of arms is in the center and is three-quarters the size of the white stripe. 

The Flag of Mexico: Variations

The central image has changed slightly throughout history, but the flag of Mexico has remained largely the same for 200+ years. 

A common variation of the standard flag is a design in which the entire coat of arms is gold, with the exception of the ribbon under the eagle‘s feet. That ribbon remains red, white, and green. The President of Mexico and other federal bodies are most likely to use this version.

In a second variation, the whole coat of arms is gold, even the ribbon. 

Coat of Arms of Mexico: Description

The national shield of Mexico shows a large golden eagle sitting on a prickly pear cactus. The cactus bears fruit and grows out of a pedestal made of stone. The stone is in a blue area that represents a lake. In the eagle’s mouth is a rattlesnake. Below the eagle is a ribbon in the national colors of green, white, and red. The Seal of the government of Mexico depicts this same scene. 

The Flag of Mexico: Symbolism

The imagery of the flag goes back to a common legend in Mexico. In the tale, the God called Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs that they would find the ideal location to build their empire when they saw an eagle standing on a cactus eating a snake. When they spotted this exact scene, they stopped to build Mexico City (then Tenochtitlan). The imagery of this scene on the flag reminds the people of their Aztec roots. 

The flag’s red stripe represents all the national heroes who fought for freedom. The white stripe represents unity, and the green represents hope and victory. 

Flag Day in Mexico

The flag of Mexico

Mexico’s plan for independence was based on freedom, unity, and religion, which the national flag strongly represents.


Flag Day on February 24 is an important holiday in Mexico. The nation’s president officially implemented it in 1937. They chose this particular date because of an important proclamation on February 24, 1821. General Vicente Martinez and General Agustin de Iturbide released Plan de las tres garantías (three guarantees). They announced a plan for independence from Spain, which was a key point in the process of freedom for Mexico. Their plan was based on the three principles of independence, unity, and religion, which the national flag strongly represents.

Independence Day in Mexico

Independence Day in Mexico is celebrated on September 16. This national holiday celebrates the country’s independence from Spain, who ruled Mexico for over 300 years. The celebration includes feasts, music, performances, and fireworks. On September 16, 1810, a Catholic priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bell and delivered a powerful speech (called Grito de Delores). 

This speech marked the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence, which lasted for nearly 11 years. On August 24, 1821, Spain withdrew from the conflict and ceded Mexico as an independent country. Father Hidalgo is known as the Father of Independence. Every year, the President of Mexico rings the same bell Hidalgo rang 200 years ago to mark the beginning of the celebrations. 

Where Is Mexico Located on a Map?

Mexico is in the southern part of North America. The United States of America is to Mexico’s north, the Pacific Ocean is to its west and south, the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea are to its east, and Guatemala and Belize are to its southeast. The total area of Mexico is 758,450 square miles.

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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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