What is the Most Popular Flag in the World?

Some national flags are so iconic that they’re known and recognised in even the most remote corners of the world. Instantly recognisable, they’re a part of worldwide culture, often featured on clothing, accessories and a whole host of other products. But, what is the most popular flag? Find out with the experts at Flagmakers.

So, what is the most popular flag in the world? According to the World Economic Forum, the UK’s Union Jack is the most iconic flag in the world, followed by the USA, France, Canada and Australia. The Union Jack also features the most popular flag colours in the world; red, white and blue.


Read on to learn more about the world’s most popular flags, as well as the most popular colours on national flags around the world.

What’s the Most Popular Flag in the World?

According to the World Economic Forum, there are 24 national flags that are popular enough around the world to be deemed “iconic”, but what came out on top? Which of these iconic flags are the most popular and most well-known around the world? 


Hint: you probably won’t be surprised….

1. UK

Believe it or not, the UK’s very own Union Jack is considered to be the world’s most iconic national flag, therefore, perhaps, the most popular flag in the world. Consisting of the Irish Cross of St. Patrick, the Scottish Saltire of St. Andrew and the English Red Cross of St. George, the Union Jack was adopted in 1801. 

Fun Fact: No law has ever been passed to make the Union Jack the official flag of the UK; it has simply been the de facto national flag since its adoption in 1801.

Union Flag on A Flagpole
USA Flag

2. USA

The second most popular flag in the world is the stars and stripes of the USA. There have been 28 incarnations of the US flag since its adoption in 1775, but the current version has been in use since Independence Day 1960. The US flag consists of  13 horizontal red and white stripes which represent the colonies that declared independence to form the first States of the Union, and 50 stars which represent the 50 states of the USA. 

Fun Fact: It is written into Federal law that the US national flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset except in the case of inclement weather where the flag can be displayed for 24 hours (provided that it is sufficiently illuminated when dark).

3. France

The red, white and blue of the French flag was adopted in 1794 after the French Revolution and was in use until 1974 when an updated version with lighter shades of red, white and blue was adopted. The white section of the French flag is said to represent the King and is the traditional colour of the royal House of Bourbon. Red and blue represent the city of Paris and were the colours of the revolutionaries that stormed the Bastille in 1789.

Fun Fact: Whilst sitting at number 3 on the world’s most popular flags, the French flag is additionally iconic as it is thought to have influenced over 20 tricolour flags around the world.

France Flag
Canada Flag

4. Canada

The Canadian flag is probably on the list of the world’s most popular flags due to its iconic maple leaf design - a symbol of Canada since the 18th century. This is the only design that Canada has ever used on their national flag and was adopted in 1965 at the emergence of a new Canadian identity.

Fun Fact: Canada has a National Flag Day each year on the 15th February.

5. Australia

Featuring a strong nod towards the Commonwealth (and the world’s most popular flag - the UK), the Australian flag features the Union Jack in the top left corner, the Commonwealth Star in the lower left quadrant (a 7-pointed star), and the Southern Cross Constellation which is easily visible from Australia. The flag was first  adopted in 1903 and updated in 1908 to the version we know today.

Fun Fact: Australia has a number of other flags in which the Governor-General can appoint as official flags or ensigns of Australia as he sees fit. To date, 5 flags have been used in this manner.

Australia Flag
South Africa Flag

6. South Africa

The 6th most popular flag in the world is the South African flag. With its iconic design, the current South African flag was adopted in 1990 following the release of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. The red, white and blue were taken from the old flag of Transvaal, whilst the black, green and yellow were taken from the banner of Mandela’s African National Congress. 

Fun Fact: At the time of its design, the South African flag was the first in the world to feature 6 different colours.

Honourable Mentions

The World Economic Forum’s list of most popular flags in the world  doesn’t stop with South Africa; the list continues through to number 24:

  1. Germany
  2. Nepal
  3. Nigeria
  4. China
  5. Brazil
  6. Austria
  7. Denmark
  8. Bangladesh
  9. Greece
  10. Malaysia
  11. Ghana
  12. Mozambique
  13. Iran
  14. Botswana
  15. Vietnam
  16. New Zealand
  17. India
  18. Bahamas
Brazil Flag

What is the Most Popular Flag Colour?

We now know what the world’s most popular flag is, but what about the most popular flag colours? Unsurprisingly the most common flag colours are red, white and blue.

Red is the most popular flag colour, featuring on 78% of all national flags (148 out of 196 flags!), closely followed by blue which appears on 71% of all national flags. White is the third most popular flag colour, featuring on 50% of the world’s national flags. It probably won’t come as a shock to learn that red, white and blue are also the most commonly combined flag colours around the world, appearing on 30 national flags.

What is the Least Popular Flag Colour?

Purple is the least common colour to appear on national flags. It is currently only used on 2 national flags (Dominica and Nicaragua), and historically was never used on national flags before the 20th Century.

This is due to purple dye historically being incredibly expensive and reserved for only the richest in society. In some parts of the world even royalty couldn’t afford purple dye; it was said to be worth more than its weight in gold and just 1lb of it was once worth  $56,000 (£46,421) in today's money. 

Learn more about the rarest colours on national flags in our recent blog, What is the Rarest Colour on National Flags? where we go into more detail about the history of the use of purple on flags and why it wasn’t used.

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