Cat Flag #100: My favorite (and least favorite) flags

Would you believe this is my 100th Cat Flag post? Boy, does life fly past us! I decided that, in honor of my 100th post, I should do something different. Instead of talking about the news, or movies, or history, I’m going to get back to a subject I haven’t really talked about since my second post: Flags.

Kind of a major oversight on my part, considering the name of this blog is “Cat Flag”.

So, today, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite flags from around the world. As well as some of my least favorite flags, for entertainment’s sake. Because for every awesome flag, there’s a flag that whose designers just don’t seem to get it.

Awesome flag: Old Glory

File:Flag of the United States.svg

We Americans should feel lucky we have such a beautiful banner. The colorful pattern, the stars matching so well with the stripes, the blue shining against a blue sky, it’s really a sight to behold. We’re definitely spoiled, compared to some countries that only have two or three boring stripes as their national emblem. And I know I’m not just biased by my patriotism, because when the first ships from the newly independent United States sailed into Chinese ports in the late 18th century, the locals called the flag the 花旗 (huaqi), or “flower-flag”, because they thought it was as beautiful as a flower. The story goes that crowds of people flooded to the port to see this rumored “flower-flag ship”.

Which makes it all more jarring when our nation comes up with some really terrible flags.

Terrible flags: Lazy U.S. state flags

File:Flag of Connecticut.svg
File:Flag of Idaho.svg
File:Flag of Massachusetts.svg
File:Flag of Washington.svg

Not all states do this, but enough do that it’s rather annoying. Back in 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, celebrating 400 years since Christopher Columbus’s voyage. This was to be the largest World’s Fair yet, and was to symbolize that America, as a nation, had come of age and was emerging as a world power. Many states decided they needed some sort of symbol to represent themselves at the fair, and thus was born the idea of a “state flag”. The problem was that far too many state legislatures decided to simply put their state seal on a single-colored background and call it a day. Thus, we have a nation peppered with ugly state flags that don’t do the people, heritage, or culture of their state any justice. I mean, compare those monstrosities with some of these state flags:

File:Flag of Wyoming.svg
File:Flag of South Carolina.svg
File:Flag of New Mexico.svg
File:Flag of Indiana.svg
File:Flag of Ohio.svg
File:Flag of Arkansas.svg
File:Flag of Arizona.svg

See the difference a little effort makes?

Awesome flags: Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan

File:Flag of Kazakhstan.svg

File:Flag of Turkmenistan.svg

These two ex-Soviet nations decided they were going to do something interesting and pretty with their flags. Putting an intricate design on the left-hand side adds a bit of “pop” that helps the flag stand out, and also gives a sense of heritage that not every flag has. I especially like the Kazakh one because they follow it up with an awesome eagle-and-sun device that just looks cool.

Terrible flags: Australia and New Zealand

File:Flag of Australia.svg

File:Flag of New Zealand.svg

First off, these flags are so similar it’s really easy to get them mixed up. Second, no offense to the Union Jack – it is a very pretty flag that I like and that has a very long history – but why are they using a colonial holdover flag with another country’s emblem on it? I mean, yes, they still consider Elizabeth II to be their Queen, but apart from that they are politically independent nations.

This pretty much says it all.

There are groups in both countries who advocate changing the flag. My favorite proposal is this one, designed by Brendan Jones as a possible new Australian flag (image from Ausflag):

Reconciliation Flag

Awesome flag: Christmas Island

File:Flag of Christmas Island.svg

Sometimes the smallest countries or territories have the coolest flags. Take Christmas Island, a tiny little place in the Indian Ocean about 220 miles south of Indonesia that was colonized by the British and is now administered by Australia.  It has a tiny population of just 1,493 people, and virtually no resources apart from a phosphate mine. Most outsiders probably wouldn’t even know it existed if it weren’t for the annual red crab migration that nature documentaries love to film:

And yet they took the time to design an awesome flag that just screams, “check us out!” (Or maybe that was the point, to try to get tourists?)

Terrible Flag: Antarctica

File:Flag of Antarctica.svg

Then there’s this boring thing. Yeah, I know Antarctica is uninhabited apart from a tiny few scientists. Yeah, I know the Antarctic Treaty was written to set aside any territorial claims to the continent and leave it as a peaceful, scientific preserve. Still doesn’t excuse the boring, bland, useless design of this flag. I mean, couldn’t they at least have put some penguins on it?

What do you think? What are your favorite or least favorite flags? Let me know in comments!

Flag images from Wikipedia, unless otherwise noted.

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2 Responses to Cat Flag #100: My favorite (and least favorite) flags

  1. Pingback: Awesome Flags You’ve Probably Never Seen Before | Cat Flag

  2. Pingback: Stange Historical Oddities that Left their Mark on the Present | Cat Flag

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