Flags of South America – National Flags
The flags represent the national identity of each country. Each color has a meaning in the history of nations. South American flags vary on color and meaning. On this page, I list all flags of South America and their colors.
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South America National Flags
Flags of South America
Flag of Argentina
3 colors: blue, white, yellow.
Meaning of the flag of Argentina: The colors of Argentina’s flag probably represent the country’s connection with the House of Bourbon, not in power in Spain at the time of Argentina’s war of independence. Argentina may have wanted to show loyalty to Spain instead of France, who had taken control of Spain at the time. The symbolism of the colors blue, white and yellow may also be related to the sky and clouds with the sun shining. The sun portrayed is the symbol of the Incan god of Sun, Inti.
History of the Flag of Argentina
Argentina’s national flag has some things in common with the flag from neighboring country Uruguay: the choice of the colors white and blue, and of the sun as a symbol.
It has three horizontal stripes, two light blue in the top and bottom and a white stripe in the middle. The sun on the white stripe in the center is a reference to Inti, the Inca sun god.
The flag is probably a creation of legendary general Belgrano, an Argentinian military officer who opposed the connection between Spain and Argentina. Some say the general was inspired by the blue sky, while others claim he was influenced by the blue colored uniforms of his soldiers to create the flag.
The first version of the flag, without the sun symbol, first appeared in Rosario in February 1812 during Argentina’s Independence War. That first flag became the official national flag in 1816 but the current version as we know it would only appear in 1861.
Travel articles about Argentina:
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Flag of Bolivia
3 colors: red, yellow, white.
Meaning of the flag of Bolivia: Red represents the valor and courage of Bolivian soldiers; green symbolizes fecundity of the soil; yellow stands for Bolivia’s mineral resources and wealth.
History of the Flag of Bolivia
The Bolivian flag has three horizontal stripes: red in the top, yellow in the middle, and green in the bottom.
The red stands for the bloodshed during the independence war and Bolivia’s fauna. Yellow stands for the country’s natural resources, and green is a symbol of the country’s soil fertility.
The country gained independence in 1825 but the flag was slightly different then, although the color scheme is the same, indeed quite common colors for the indigenous Quechua and Aymara. It’s also believed there’s a connection to Simon Bolivar, the Latin American hero who fought for the region’s independence, and who used a blue, yellow, and red flag. Those colors have also influenced the flags of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador.
The current flag became official in 1851. The flag used to have the country’s coat of arms in the middle, and although it’s still part of the state flag, it has since been removed from the national flag.
Flag of Brazil
4 colors: green, yellow, blue, white.
Meaning of the flag of Brazil: Green represents the verdant pasture and forest region in Brazil; the yellow colored diamond shape indicates the country’s gold resources since Brazil once had the largest gold mines in the world. The blue circle represents the sky with twenty-seven white stars, each representing every “Federal District” and state of Brazil. The white banner contains the motto “Ordem e Progresso”, meaning “Order and Progress”.
History of the Flag of Brazil
The Brazilian flag, known in Portuguese as “A Auriverde” (in English, the gold and green one), is one of the most original flags in the world. It has a yellow diamond shape over a green background, a dark blue circle in the center with a narrow band around it that reads “Ordem e Progresso” (Order and Progress) and a group of stars laid asymmetrically. The flag was created by professor Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, with the help of Miguel Lemos, Manuel Pereira Reis, and Décio Villares.
The white stars are perhaps the most curious element in the flag. There are as many stars as there are states in Brazil, and they’re laid in a faithful depiction of what the sky looked like in Brazil on 15 November 1889, the date when Monarchy was abolished in the country. Four days later, the current flag was adopted as the country’s official flag, in replacement of a previous short-lived version that resembled the flag of the United States of America.
Augusto Comte’s positivism inspired the motto on the flag.
Ironically, the green represents the House of Braganza of Brazil’s first king, Emperor Pedro I, and the yellow represents the House of Habsburg of his wife, Maria Leopoldina. The flag of republican Brazil was directly inspired by the imperial flag, with slight changes in the elements on the yellow diamond.
Travel articles about Brazil:
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Flag of Chile
3 colors: blue, red, white.
Meaning of the flag of Chile: White stands for the snow-covered Andes mountain range; red symbolizes the blood spilled by the national heroes in the long fight for freedom in Chile; blue represents the clear blue skies of the country. The white star represents honor and pride.
History of the Flag of Chile
The Chile flag has two horizontal stripes, white in the top and red in the bottom, and a third vertical blue stripe in the left side. There’s a blue square covering about 1/8 of the flag’s surface, in the top left corner, with a five-point white star overlapped.
Those are the same colors as the USA flag, and one has somewhat influenced the other. Chile’s flag is almost identical to the one in the state of Texas in 1839.
White represents the snow you’ll find in some parts of the country (in fact, Chile means snow in the local language), blue represents the sky, and red stands for the blood shed by the patriots fighting for independence. The star is a symbol of the Chilean indigenous people and white stands for union and freedom. The star has one point for each region in the country.
There were other flags considered as national flags before that, but the Chile flag was first seen in 1817 during the independence wars. The flag was officially hoisted for the first time on 12 February 1818, the day of the Declaration of Independence.
No one knows exactly who created the flag, with many possible names being thrown around including Bernardo O’Higgins, José Ignacio Zenteno, Antonio Arcos e Gregorio and Andía y Varela.
Travel articles about Chile:
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Flag of Colombia
3 colors: yellow, blue, red.
Meaning of the flag of Colombia: Yellow stands for all the gold found in Colombia; blue stands for the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea but also represents the equality of all races and classes in Colombian society; red signifies the sacrifices of the martyrs and the blood shed by the heroes in the national independence struggle.
History of the Flag of Colombia
The Colombian flag has three horizontal stripes, a wider yellow stripe in the top, a blue in the middle, and a red in the bottom, both the same size.
The yellow represents the Colombian gold, the blue stands for the ocean on the country’s coast, and the red symbolizes the bloodshed during the war for independence. There’s a second interpretation linking the yellow to national sovereignty, the blue to nobility, and the red to bravery.
Francisco de Miranda created the flag, which then inspired the flags of Venezuela and Ecuador. Some documents show that Goethe was the source of inspiration for this flag. Goethe told Francisco de Miranda one evening: “Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colors are not distorted.” He continued to explain his vision of colors to the author of the flag, which resulted in the design we know today.
The flag became official in November 1861.
Flag of Ecuador
3 colors: yellow, blue, red.
Meaning of the flag of Ecuador: Yellow stands for the bright sunshine, gold and the fertility of the land in Ecuador; blue symbolizes the clear blue skies over the country and the ocean; red represents the patriotic spirit of the countrymen and the blood spilt in the long fight for freedom. The coat of arms of Ecuador shows a shield with the national bird of Ecuador, the condor, which means shelter and protection from foreign attack. The shield contains the image of the snow-capped peak of Mount Chimborazo, the highest in the country, and a steamboat on a river depicting the first ever steamboat in Latin America, which sailed on the Guayas River. The coat of arms as a whole symbolizes the dignity and pride of Ecuador.
History of the Flag of Ecuador
The Ecuador flag is very similar to the Colombian one. It has the same background and the same three horizontal stripes, with the wider yellow one followed by the blue and the red ones.
Ecuador used to be part of a country that no longer exists and that included Colombia and Venezuela, called Gran Colombia. The current country inherited the flag from that former political union, with the same historical roots as the Colombian flag.
The only difference is that the Ecuador flag has the national coat of arms in the center, that depicts an Andes condor looking out for the country’s safety.
There’s an unofficial interpretation for the colors of the flag in Ecuador: Spain is the yellow and the blue in the middle represents the distance between Ecuador and the former colonial power.
Travel articles about Ecuador:
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Flag of Guyana
5 colors: red, yellow, green, white, black.
Meaning of the flag of Guyana: Green stands for the forest and foliage of the country; yellow represents its extraordinary mineral resource and the bright future; red symbolizes the courage and vitality of the people; white represents the rivers; black signifies endurance. The flag of Guyana is also called The Golden Arrowhead’ because of its arrow shape.
History of the Flag of Guyana
The flag of Guyana has a green background with two overlaid triangles shaped like an arrow. The first one is wider, yellow, and has a white border. The smaller one is red with a black edge.
The flag was officially used for the first time in 1966 and is a result of a public competition held in 1962. The winner was North-American Whitney Smith, and the flag is known in Guyana as “The Golden Arrowhead.”
The green stands for the country’s lush landscapes, the yellow stands for the country’s mineral wealth, the red stands for the zeal and dynamic nature of Guyana, black stands for perseverance, and white is a symbol of the national rivers.
Travel articles about Guyana:
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Flag of Paraguay
3 colors: blue, white, red.
Meaning of the flag of Paraguay: The flag of Paraguay is unique in the world because the front is different from the back. On the front of the flag, the national coat of arms is at the center of the white stripe. The coat of arms of Paraguay has a yellow star on a blue circle, framed by a palm branch and an olive branch, encircled by a red band with “Republica del Paraguay” across it. Centered on the back of the flag is the seal of the national treasury, depicting a golden lion and a staff topped with the Phrygian cap, a symbol of liberty. Above there is a curved red banner reading “Paz Y Justicia”, which means “peace and justice.”
History of the Flag of Paraguay
The three-color Paraguay flag has three horizontal stripes: red in the top, white in the middle, and blue in the bottom. The national symbol is laid over the white stripe in the middle, a wreath of palm and olive tree branches around a five-point yellow star with the inscription “Republica del Paraguay” (Republic of Paraguay). And now pay close attention to the uniqueness of this flag. On one side is what I described above, but on the reverse side of the flag is the seal of treasury: a lion under a red hat on a stick with the inscription “Paz Y Justicia” (peace and justice).
The flag was officially adopted by Rodriguez de Francia, the president of Paraguay in 1842. As you can perhaps tell by the President’s name (Francia is France in Spanish), he was a French enthusiast, which explains why he chose this flag similar to the French one but with horizontal stripes.
The current flag was revised in 2013 to change some details, so it matched its original design that has evolved slightly over the years.
Flag of Peru
2 colors: red, white.
Meaning of the flag of Peru: Red represents the blood spilled for achieving Peruvian independence; white symbolizes peace and purity.
History of the Flag of Peru
The Peruvian flag is easy to describe: three vertical stripes, one white in the middle and two red ones on each side. That simplified version is the one used more frequently, but there’s a more formal variation with the national coat of arms in the center.
The first flag associated with Peru, when the country was still aspiring to be independent, appeared in 1820. It was the creation of general Guillermo Miller, and it was a completely blue flag with a sun in the center.
In that same year, the first flag of the Republic of Peru appeared with the same red and white colors as of today but a different design. It was the creation of another military officer, general José de San Martin. In the following five years, the flag’s design evolved but kept the same color scheme, with two other versions until the current final one.
There’s an interesting song in Peru called Marcha de Banderas (march of flags) that’s played during flag hoisting ceremonies. It’s a sort of a national anthem for that specific occasion.
The red and the white are said to stand for the Incas and their influence in contemporary Peru.
Travel articles about Peru:
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Flag of Suriname
4 colors: green, red, yellow, white.
Meaning of the flag of Suriname: Green stands for the fertility and natural resources of the land and hope; white represents freedom and justice; red is for the country’s progress and struggles to achieve a better quality of life. These colors also represent three of Suriname’s political parties: red for the Hindu Vatan Hitkari; white for the People’s Party; green for the National Party. The yellow star represents a golden future for Suriname attained through unity and hard work. The five points symbolize the country’s five main ethnic groups, the Creoles (mixed African and Native American descent), Asian Indians, Chinese, American Indians, and Europeans.
History of the Flag of Suriname
Suriname flag has three main horizontal stripes, split by smaller white ones. The central stripe is red, and the top and bottom ones are green. There’s a yellow five-point star laid over the central red stripe.
The star stands for Suriname’s multi-ethnicity from continuous waves of immigration. The green stands for fertile soils and the country’s landscape, as well as for hope and future opportunities for Suriname. The white means justice and freedom and red means love, an unusual interpretation in world flags considering the color is typically associated with bloodshed during a war.
The flag was adopted in 1975, after the country’s independence.
Travel articles about Suriname:
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Flag of Trinidad and Tobago
3 colors: red, black, white.
Meaning of the flag of Trinidad and Tobago: Red represents the vitality of the land and its people; white is a symbol of the sea surrounding the country; black is for the industrious and hard-working nature of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
History of the Flag of Trinidad and Tobago
The flag of Trinidad and Tobago is red with a diagonal black stripe with white borders, that add contrast to the red background.
Red means vitality and strength, black means union of the national population, and white stands for the citizen’s pure thoughts and the crests of the waves of the sea around the country. Other interpretations of the flag say that the red, black, and white stand for fire, earth, and water respectively.
The flag was designed by Carlisle Chang, and chosen by the Independence Committee and adopted as the national flag in 1962, in the same year when the country became independent from the United Kingdom.
Flag of Uruguay
3 colors: blue, white, yellow.
Meaning of the flag of Uruguay: The colors blue and white of the Uruguay flag were inspired by the flag of Argentina. The sun emblem is the national symbol of Uruguay, representing the Inca sun god Into. It is called “Sun of May”, a symbol of freedom and independence since it refers to the May Revolution of 1810, in which Spanish American colonies started their revolt against Spain and finally gained independence. The nine stripes are a symbol of the nine provinces of Uruguay, which existed at the time the First Constitution of Uruguay was signed, in 1830.
History of the Flag of Uruguay
The flag of Uruguay has nine horizontal stripes, five white and four blue. There’s a white square with a yellow sun in the top left corner that covers about 1/8 of the flag’s total area. That symbol, called “The Sun of May,” has a human face and 16 sunbeams, eight wavy and eight straight. It represents the Inca sun-god Inti, just as in neighboring Argentina’s flag, and it stands for the events that took place in Buenos Aires during the May Revolution in 1810, that marked the beginning of the end of Spanish ruling.
The nine stripes stand for each one of the country’s regions, as they were defined after Uruguay’s independence in 1828, following an armed conflict with Brazil. This flag’s design is influenced by the flags of United States of America and Argentina, and Uruguayan politician Joaquín Suárez designed it.
Flag of Venezuela
4 colors: yellow, blue, red, white.
Meaning of the flag of Venezuela: The flag of Venezuela is based on another flag used by independence fighters who fought against Spanish colonial rule. At that time, yellow represented the gold of the Americas, blue symbolized the Atlantic Ocean which separated the new Americas from the bloody old world of Europe and Spain, which is represented by red. Today, the symbolic value of the colors is a bit different: yellow stands for new opportunities; red is for Spain; blue stands for the Atlantic Ocean. The eight stars in the flag represent the seven provinces that existed at the time of Venezuelan independence plus the province of Guayana, added in 2006.
History of the Flag of Venezuela
The flag of Venezuela has a three-color design, with three equal horizontal stripes: yellow in the top, blue in the middle, and red in the bottom. In the center, laid over the blue stripe, there’s a circle with eight white five-point stars.
Those colors are a reminder of Gran Colombia, a political union that included Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Notice that, of those three countries, Venezuela is the only one with a flag with three same-sized stripes.
Seven of the eight stars represent the seven provinces that signed the document agreeing to the termination of Gran Colombia. The eighth star was added to the flag in 2006 during a reform led by then-president Hugo Chavez. It’s supposed to represent Esequiba, a region that’s part of Guyana but that Venezuela claims as part of their territory.
Although the current flag was approved only recently, it’s still based on the 1806 original design by Francisco de Miranda, adopted as the first flag of the country in 1811.