The national flag is one of the most important and respected symbols of a country. Usually, the motif depicted on the flag refers to the country´s history or culture. While most of national flags contain various geometrical figures, colors and common symbols, there are flags with surprisingly bizarre things on them. From a naked man beheading another man to machetes and assault rifles, check out these 25 bizarre things found in flags from around the world.
When it comes to national flags bearing weapons, nothing compares to that of Mozambique. Symbolizing the country´s defense and vigilance, the national flag of Mozambique is “decorated” with an AK-47 assault rifle. The open book symbolizes the importance of education and the hoe represents the country’s agriculture.
It’s generally known that the dragon is a very important symbol in many Asian countries but Bhutan is one of few that has designed their national flag with the creature. The dragon depicted on the flag is Druk, the legendary Bhutanese thunder dragon holding a jewel called norbu. The yellow part signifies the country´s civil tradition while the red half represents the Buddhist spiritualism.
On the national flag of Swaziland, you’ll find a black and white shield (showing that people of various colors can live together) and two spears. The three blue objects are feathers of the widowbird and the lourie. Having the highest importance, the symbol of the feathers can only be used by the country´s king.
What may look like a shining tennis ball is actually the sun crossed by two sets of three lines, a stylized representation of the crown of the traditional Kyrgyz portable dwelling structure called yurt. There are 40 identical rays placed around the sun that – according to a popular legend – signifies 40 Kyrgyz tribes unified against the Mongols by the epic hero Manas.
While most national flags contain a moderate amount of symbols and figures, the design of Belize´s national flag is very complex. The center of the flag features mestizo and black woodcutters armed with cutting tools and surrounded by 50 mahogany leaves, referring to the logging industry which has been a major industrial sector of the country.
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Used between 1977 and 2011, the Libyan national flag was the only flag in the world with just one color and no design, insignia, or other details. The purely green design was chosen by then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to symbolize his political philosophy and Islam. In 2011, after Gaddafi was killed, an earlier version of the flag was re-adopted.
The national flag of Nepal has one interesting primacy – it’s the world’s only non-quadrilateral national flag. The design consists of the simplified combination of two single pennants featuring symbols of the crescent moon and the sun. Until 1962, the flag was even more bizarre as the sun and moon emblems had human faces, which made them look like modern emoticons.
Kenya is another African country with spears on its national flag. Along with the dominance of red in the central part of the flag, they symbolize the protection of the country and the blood shed during the fights for independence. The black color in the upper part represents Kenyan people and the green band signifies the country´s landscape.
Isle of Man
Located between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency, known for its unusual flag. Three armored legs with golden spurs joined together are juxtaposed against a red background. Officially known as the triskelion, this bizarre symbol was once used by the ancient nations of the Mycenaeans and the Lycians thousands of years ago. The Isle of Man has used this symbol since 1932 but it’s not certain why they adopted it.
Since August 1960, Cyprus has used a national flag which features the map of the island with two olive branches underneath. The olive branches as well as the purely white background symbolize peace and the orange color of the map represents its large deposits of copper ore.
Native to the African savannah, the grey crowned crane takes the center spot in Uganda’s flag. The three colors are representative of the African people (black), Africa’s sunshine (yellow), and African brotherhood (red) and the raised leg of the crane symbolizes the forward movement of the country.
Used since 1974, the national flag of Grenada is bordered with a thick red frame containing 6 yellow stars that stand for the country’s six parishes. The central star, encircled by a red disk, represents Saint George, Grenada’s capital. The strange little symbol on the left is a nutmeg, one of Grenada staples. As far as the flag’s colors are concerned; red stands for courage and vitality; yellow for wisdom and warmth; and green for vegetation and agriculture.
The national flag of Mongolia features 3 vertical bands, one of which holds Mongolia’s national symbol, the soyombo. If you look closely at the symbol, you should be able to recognize representations of fire, sun, moon, earth, water, and the Yin-Yang symbol. The central blue band signifies the sky, while the red bands represent the ability of Mongolia to thrive in its harsh environment.
The world´s dominant oil producer, Saudi Arabia, is another country with a weapon on its national flag. Similar to Libya and other countries, the green background represents Islam and the sword is the symbol of the country´s military power and also of the House of Saud, the founding dynasty of the country. The Arabic inscription placed above the sword is the Shahada – Islamic declaration of faith.
The national flag of Ecuador consists of three colored bands and an extremely complex and intricate coat of arms in the middle. In it, there’s a mountain (Mt. Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador), a river, a steamboat, the sun, spears, both laurel and palm leaves and several other objects related to the country. On top of it all resides a condor which symbolizes the power of Ecuador.
If the design of Angola´s national flag reminds you of the communist symbol of the former Soviet Union, you’re not alone. The symbol in the middle of the flag is a crossed cog wheel (representing industry) and a machete (representing the peasantry and the armed struggle). The flag was adopted in 1975 when Angola was ruled by a Marxist government, and thus was supposed to evoke the image of the hammer and sickle found on the flag of the former soviet union.
Gibraltar’s flag features a three-towered red castle and a gold key. The castle refers to the Kingdom of Castile, a large and powerful medieval kingdom and the key signifies the fact that Gibraltar has been considered the entrance to the Mediterranean.
Papua New Guinea
Divided diagonally into two identical triangles, the national flag of Papua New Guinea has bizarre objects in both halves. In the hoist part, there are five stars arranged into the shape of the Southern Cross (suggesting that the country is located in the Southern hemisphere), while the right part is designed with the raggiana bird of paradise, an iconic Papua New Guinea bird. What makes the flag even more unusual is the fact the designer of it was a 15-year-old schoolgirl who won a nationwide competition for a new flag design in 1971.
The national flag of Turkmenistan boasts an impressive primacy – it’s the most detailed national flag in the world. The crescent moon (symbol of Islam), five stars (representing five provinces of the country) and the red stripe containing five incredibly detailed and intricate carpet designs (representing five original major tribes of Turkmenistan) earned the flag the unique title.
The most dominant symbol of the national flag of Sri Lanka is a large gold lion holding a kastane sword. The lion represents the Sri Lankan nation and its bravery while the sword signifies the country´s ability to protect itself. The four little objects in the corners are bo leaves and stand for the country´s Buddhist tradition and the four virtues: Kindness, Friendliness, Happiness and Equanimity. The two stripes on the left represent the Tamils and Moors, major Sri Lankan ethnic groups.
From a distance, the main symbol of Wale´s national flag looks similar to that of Sri Lanka but in this case, the creature depicted on the flag is not a lion but a red dragon. The dragon, sometimes also known as the Welsh dragon, refers to legendary king Cadwaladr who ruled Wales in the 7th century and was often associated with the dragon.
An insular area belonging to the United States, the Virgin Islands’ national flag is a simplified version of the US coat of arms. The arrows found in the eagle’s left talon represent three major islands of the archipelago and the letters found under the eagle´s wings are the country´s initials.
If you think the trident depicted on Barbados’ national flag is a reference to Neptune or Poseidon, you’re wrong. Derived from Britannia, a mythical female patron of then Roman Britain, the trident represents the three principles of democracy.
Cambodia is one of the few countries to feature a building as the dominant symbol of their national flag. In the case of this Southeast Asian country, the building depicted on the flag is the Angkor Wat, the iconic structure of Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world.
The modern national flag of Benin consists of 3 colored bands and includes no other symbols. However, the old flag of the Benin Empire (a pre-colonial empire in today Nigeria) was much more “interesting”. It depicted a naked man holding a sword, beheading another person. The exact origin of the flag is uncertain but it is generally believed the design referred to the Itsekri People, an ethnic group that acted as middle men between the Edo people of Benin and the Europeans on the coast.