10 Facts You May Not Know About Flags!

1. The Study of Flags Is Called Vexillology

Vexillology is the scientific study of flags and related emblems. It is concerned with research into flags of all kinds, both modern and historical, the creation of a body of practice for flag design and usage, and of a body of theory of flag development. Vexillology seeks to understand and explain the important part played by flags in the modern world.

Vexillology as a word is derived from the Latin vexillum, a term used by the Romans to refer to a kind of standard with a fabric hung from a horizontal crossbar on a pole. It is the nearest equivalent in the classical languages to what we call a flag today. 

2. There are Only 3 National Flags That Differ On Their Front and Reverse Sides

They are:

  • Moldova – Only the front displays the Coat of Arms
  • Paraguay – The reverse side contains the treasury seal
  • Saudi Arabia – has a sword and the Arabic inscription for “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Since the flag contains sacred writing, the reverse side of the flag is a duplicate of the front and two flags are usually sewn together
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3. The Biggest Flag In The World

According to Guinness World Records the largest flag ever made was of a Romanian national flag that measured 349 x 227 metres (1,145 x 744.5ft) – about three times the size of a football field.

It weighed 5-tonnes and consisted of 44 miles of thread and was unfurled 22 miles South-East of Bucharest.

It took 200 people several hours to unfurl it.

(See: www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/27/worlds-biggest-flag-romania-guinness).

4. The Most Expensive Union Jack In The World

On 21st October 2009 the only surviving Union Jack from the Battle of Trafalgar was sold at auction for £384,000 – nearly 40 times the pre-auction estimate.

The battle damaged flag – measuring 11ft x 7ft – flew from the jack staff of HMS Spartiate at the historic battle and following victory over Napoleon’s French army, the crew lowered the flag and presented it to Lieutenant James Clephan for his outstanding performance during the famous engagement.

See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1221983/Only-surviving-Union-Jack-Battle-Trafalgar-sells-record-breaking-384-000.html

5. By Law The USA Burns Thousands of Flags Every Year on June 14th

Section 176 (k) of the US Flag Code (a set of rules on the correct treatment of the Stars and Stripes) provides that: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Subsequently every year military veteran organisations and the Boy Scouts of America burn thousands of US flags between them.

Flag burnings (or “retirements” to give it its official terminology) are usually held on Flag Day, June 14.

6. There Is Always A Flag Flying Over Buckingham Palace

It is a well known fact that when the Queen is in residence at Buckingham Palace the Royal Standard is flown on the roof top flagpole.

However, when the queen is not there the Union Flag (Union Jack) will be flown instead.

The same applies for all royal residences including for Windsor Castle and Sandringham. In Scotland, the Royal Arms of Scotland is flown at Holyroodhouse and Balmoral when the Queen is not there.

7. There Is Only One Non Rectangular National Flag

Every country’s flag is – to a certain extent – quadrilateral in shape (whether it is a rectangle or a square) with only one exception – Nepal.

It is shaped like two stacked triangles, representing the Himalaya Mountains and – more recently – the two religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The sun and moon represent the hope that the country will live as long as these celestial bodies.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Nepal

8. A Number of National Flags Contain Religious Symbols

There are a number of countries that use their flags to show the prominent religion in their country. Examples of this include:

  • Turkey – the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam (the state religion)
  • Algeria – the crescent, star, and colour green are traditional symbols of Islam (the state religion)
  • Pakistan – The Pakistan flag is green with a vertical white band (symbolizing the role of religious minorities) on the hoist side; a large white crescent and star are centred in the green field; the crescent, star, and colour green are traditional symbols of Islam.
  • Israel – a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) is known as the Magen David (Shield of David).

9. There Are Only 2 National Flags That Are Square

There are only two countries with square flags. They are Switzerland and Vatican City.

10. The Majority of The Flags At The London 2012 Olympics Were Made In …. France!

Despite the undoubted success of the London 2012 Olympics few people know that the Union Jacks and all other national flags we saw flying at the Olympic venues were actually made by a French company.

The real irony of this is that London and Paris were the last two cities from which the IOC made their selection.

Would a British firm have been awarded the contract to supply the flags if Paris had won the bid? Answers on a postcard to….


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