What are the oldest country flags in the world?

For centuries, flags have been one of the greatest signs of identity of any nation. And as the visual standards in books, paintings or drawings became modern and popular, they grew as representative elements of the countries. It’s hard not to think of the UK without thinking about Union jack, in the United States without having in mind the stars and stripes or in France without thinking about the vertical blue, white and red of its national ensign.

SpainDespite having a rare model, especially in Europe, it is not one of the countries with the longest standing on its flag. Changes between Republic (red, yellow and purple tricolor), Dictatorship (red-equalized horizontal stripes with the central yellow one twice as thick as the two red ones, with the San Juan eagle, yoke and arrows of the Falange and motto «One, great and free») Y Parliamentary monarchy (red-equalized equally distributed as the Francoist but with the National Shield established in the Constitution in 1981 with the royal crown and the blazon quartered with the arms of Castilla, León, Navarra, Aragón and Granada) have made the banner of our country far away to be one of the oldest in the world, establishing the current one in 1981.

Of course, the rojigualda was adopted as a naval flag as early as 1785, so it has a long history behind it.

Flag of the Kingdom of Spain (BigStock)

Classification of the oldest

  • Denmark – 1370 (or earlier)– The white Nordic cross on a red background seems to have been first introduced with the Battle of Lyndanisse in 1219, when the Danish King Valdemar II defeated the Estonians under the pretext of helping the crusaders in Palestine, following orders from the Pope. The Dannebrog Legend has it that he fell from the sky to give strength to the Danes in the fight against the Estonians. In 1983 its proportions were formalized. It is the oldest national ensign in the world, having records that it was already established in 1370, although it is not ruled out that it could be so even earlier. In 1937 its colors were standardized.

Flag of the Kingdom of Denmark (BigStock)
Flag of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (BigStock)
  • Nepal – 1743: It is the only non-rectangular or square flag in the world and consists of two joined flags. Its crimson red represents courage and the azalea, the national flower of Nepal, with the blue of the edges symbolizing peace. Although it was formally adopted in 1962, its use as separate pennants dates back several centuries.

Nepal Flag (BigStock)
  • United Kingdom – 1801: the current version of the Union Jack dates from 1801 and is the unification of the flags of Ireland, Scotland and Great Britain, consisting of the Cross of Saint George, patron of England, superimposed on the cross of Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland. Wales is not represented on the flag.
Union Jack, UK Flag (BigStock)
  • Argentina – 1818: Created by Manuel Belgrano in line with the national escarpment, it was raised for the first time in 1812 in Rosario, to be formally established as a national ensign in the Congress of Tucumán in 1816. In 1818 the sun would be added in the center, just as we know it today.
Flag of the Argentine Republic (BigStock)