The Ukrainian Flag: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Ukrainian flag
© Millenius/Shutterstock.com

Written by Lev Baker

Published: December 2, 2022

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Since the Russo-Ukrainian War, most people are quite familiar with the Ukrainian flag, as nations worldwide fly it in solidarity for Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian flag features two bright colors, blue and yellow, in equal horizontal bands. As the war looms on, Russia threatens to erase the flag from existence.

The flag represents an entire nation and comes with its own fascinating history and symbolism. Let’s dive into the meaning, history, and symbolism of the Ukrainian flag.

Ukrainian Sovereignty

You can’t talk about the Ukrainian flag without discussing the country’s sovereignty first. Ukraine is in a strategic location on the Black Sea between Asia, Russia, and western Europe. This geographic location leaves it vulnerable to invasions from other powers – most notably, Russia (previously the Soviet Union).

Brief History of Ukraine

Ukraine has an extensive history dating back over a thousand years. Although there were settlers in Ukraine as far back as 32,000 B.C., the country’s golden age was between the years 800 to 1300. In the 9th century, the people established the Kievan Rus, which eventually became the largest nation in Europe. This nation stretched from the Black Sea to the White Sea by the 12th century. However, like many nations in Europe and Central Asia, the Mongols overran the Kievan Rus in the 1200s. This began a very long history of Ukraine being under the rule of various nations.

Ukraine has been a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Tsardom, the Second Polish Republic, and the Soviet Union. Eventually, Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

History of the Ukrainian Flag

Ukrainian flag in the wind

The Ukrainian flag is flown as a symbol of unity for the Ukrainian people.

©rospoint/Shutterstock.com

The Ukrainian flag has two equal sections: blue at the top and yellow at the bottom. The flag was first adopted in 1848 during the European spring of nations. These conflicts were the most widespread chain of political upheavals ever to take place on the European continent. At the time of this revolution period, western Ukraine was under Austro-Hungarian rule, and central/eastern Ukraine was under Russian rule. Many nations across Europe revolted against the empires in control and western Ukraine attempted to free itself from Astro-Hungarian rule. The city of Lviv in western Ukraine was the first city to fly the Ukrainian flag over their town hall.

The revolution, unfortunately, did not go in western Ukraine’s favor. They stayed under the rule of Austria-Hungary until the end of World War One. During the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, Ukraine had a brief period of independence between 1917 and 1919. During this period, the Ukrainian flag flew over the Ukrainian People’s Republic. Unfortunately, this brief taste of freedom ended when the Soviet Union invaded the country and established the Ukrainian SSR. This move effectively ended its sovereignty.

During the long period of Soviet dominance over Ukraine, the Soviets outlawed the classic yellow and blue flag, replacing it with the flag of the SSR. The Soviets changed the official flag of the Ukrainian SSR numerous times, but it was generally red with Y.C.C.P. in golden letters, which in Ukrainian stands for Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Eventually, they replaced these letters with a hammer and sickle, and added a blue stripe under the more prominent red stripe.

In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Ukraine declared its independence. Finally, the country could fly the yellow and blue flag over the country once again after nearly 72 years of Soviet control and centuries of being occupied by other nations.

Ukraine has been a sovereign nation ever since. Currently, the country is defending its territory as Russia invaded the nation and is attempting to annex regions such as Crimea, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

Symbolism Behind the Ukrainian Flag

Ukrainian unity flag

The “linking hands” flag was created as a symbol of standing in solidarity with Ukraine.

©kovop58/Shutterstock.com

Ukraine is the “world’s breadbasket” because the country produces a massive amount of bread, corn, sunflower oil, and other food products. Food production accounts for 41 percent of Ukraine’s total exports.

The country is proud of its exportation, and their flag reflects this. The blue stripe at the top of the flag represents the blue sky, while the yellow stripe at the bottom represents fields of wheat and grain. You could even say the bright blue and yellow of the flag symbolize the Ukrainian people themselves – bold, brave, vibrant, and fearless.

The flag has also become a very important symbol of independence, national pride, freedom, and democracy in the country. Civilians display the flag proudly, especially as their sovereignty is under threat. Many countries around the world stand in solidarity with Ukraine, and you may see the Ukrainian flag flying over many establishments far away from Ukrainian soil.

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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