The Surprising Meaning Behind The Most Popular Flag Colors

Ferdio, a Danish infographic agency, shows that flag colors mean different things for different countries.

The Surprising Meaning Behind The Most Popular Flag Colors
Flags: via Shutterstock

The world’s 196 countries stick to a strikingly small color palate when it comes to the design of their flags. Case in point: there are just nine countries on Earth whose flags don’t have any red or blue in them. But just because flags share colors doesn’t mean those colors symbolize the same thing. In fact, the way two countries use the same color could vary wildly. Yellow might symbolize mineral wealth for one nation, while for another is symbolizes generosity.

See the full graphic here. Ferdio via

To parse out the different meanings of common flag colors, the Copenhagen-based infographic agency Ferdio analyzed the symbolism for each national flag and visualized in this nifty graphic. Each color is organized vertically from most common meaning to least–so that you can see that the most common meaning for red in a flag is blood while the least common use is, in fact, patriotic spirit. Blue’s meaning ranges from the sea, to truth, loyalty and justice, while green sticks closely to nature across the board–the most common is landscape and the least is natural resources. White, on the other hand, verges mostly toward virtues: peace, purity, honesty, and harmony.

Check out the full chart, as well as many other flag-related infographics, at Ferdio’s site Flag Stories.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.



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