Showing posts with label flags. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flags. Show all posts

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Have Afghanistan's Flag and Official Name Changed?

Flag of the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, featuring the Islamic Shahada text in black calligraphy over a plain white backdrop
Taliban flag of Afghanistan*

Flag of the (non-Taliban) Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, featuring a white-outlined seal over black, red, and green bars
Non-Taliban flag of Afghanistan

*Alternative versions of the Taliban flag include "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" or "Long Live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in Pashto as a smaller line of text at the bottom.

Taliban Takeover

As you probably heard, Afghanistan's Taliban rebel group successfully took over most of the country last month, with the previous national government and military collapsing as the rebels seized the national capital. 

Though the Taliban run what's now, for all practical purposes, the country's actual government, they haven't been officially accepted yet by any of the world's other countries. 

And the issue isn't politically settled so far, both Afghanistan's flag and its full official country name are a matter of dispute, with the Taliban promoting one version and the remnants of the pre-Taliban government promoting another.

Friday, January 22, 2021

US State of Mississippi Adopts New Flag

The new official flag of the US state of Mississippi, approved in a popular referendum on November 3, 2020 and formally adopted January 11, 2021. Features a white magnolia flower on a dark blue background, surrounded by 20 white stars topped with a golden star-like symbol. The left and right sides of the flag are red, separated from the blue center by thin golden borders.
Mississippi's new flag, officially adopted January 11, 2021 (public domain graphic).

50 State Flags Again

For the first time since last June, every one of the US's 50 states has its own flag. Last year, Mississippi became the only flagless state after its government voted to withdraw its former banner, controversial for incorporating the battle emblem of 19th Century pro-slavery separatists.

Monday, November 2, 2020

3 Election Day Referendums that Could Change US Geography (Updated with Results)

Update: All three referendums passed, and as of January 2021 the results of two have gone into effect. Scroll down to the bottom of each section for details of what happened.

Map of the United States, showing the 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC)
The US has 50 states...for now. (Map from Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA)

US Voters to Decide in Geography-related Referendums

This Tuesday - November 3, 2020 - is election day in the United States. And while presidential rivals Donald Trump and Joe Biden have dominated the news, Americans will also be voting (or have already voted) in thousands of other elections for national, state, and local politicians, plus referendums on state and local issues.

The US has no process for nationwide referendums, but statewide referendums - often known as "ballot measures", "propositions", or just "questions" - are common. They also exist at many lower levels of government, and in territories that aren't part of any state, like the national capital district and overseas dependencies. This Tuesday, there will be 120 statewide referendums, all held within 32 of the country's 50 states, plus 3 referendums at the top level of government for other territories.

While most of these votes are on issues like taxation, election rules, and drug laws, three are of special interest to geography fans:

Sunday, July 5, 2020

US State of Mississippi Now Has No Flag

Update: On November 3, 2020, Mississippi voted to approve a replacement flag, which was then officially adopted on January 11, 2021.

The second flag of the US state of Mississippi, stripped of official status on June 30, 2020
Former official flag of Mississippi state (2001-2020)

The Mississippi Flag is No More

Last Tuesday the elected governor of Mississippi, one of the 50 states of the United States of America, signed a new law stripping official status from the state's controversial flag.

Mississippi's was the only remaining state flag to include the Confederate battle emblem, a symbol of the separatist Confederate States of America who fought to preserve slavery in the country's 1860s civil war.

Though citizens are not banned from flying the flag - a right protected by the US Constitution - it has been taken down from both the state government building and the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Several city governments and universities in Mississippi had already stopped flying the state flag.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mauritania Flies a New Flag

Mauritania Flag: 2017 new flag design after referendum, featuring red bands
Current flag of Mauritania (2017)

Mauritania Flag: Colors before 2017 referendum that added red bands
Previous flag of Mauritania (1959-2017)

Mauritania's 2017 Flag Change

This year the West African country of Mauritania (pronounced "maur-ih-TAY-nee-ah") became the latest of the world's countries to change its flag, mostly keeping the old design but adding red bars on the top and bottom.

It's common around the world for even a small flag change to be criticized as a political distraction or a waste of money, and this was no exception. But when it landed on ballots in an August 5 referendum this summer, the modification was approved by 86% of participating voters.

The new flag was first officially raised on November 28, Mauritania's independence day.

What Does Mauritania's Flag Mean?

Until this year, Mauritania was one of only a few world countries whose flag didn't include the colors red, white, or blue. The star and crescent moon, originally an emblem of the Ottoman Empire, are now used in many national flags as symbol of the Muslim world.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Ever Happened with New Zealand's Flag Referendum?

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The proposed new flag: "Silver Fern (Black, White, and Blue)" by Kyle Lockwood (CC BY 3.0 nz)
Referendum Complete
PolGeoNow readers might remember that New Zealand's vote on whether to change its national flag was scheduled to continue until late March 24. So how did it turn out?

Preliminary results were released on March 24, with detailed final results coming out six days later. The answer: New Zealanders voted "NO" on changing their country's flag to the proposed "Silver Fern" design, by a margin of 57% to 43%.

Visual comparison of the very similar current flags of Australia and New Zealand
Current flags of New Zealand (top) and Australia (bottom)
The result is that New Zealand will keep the same flag it's been using since 1902. Even though this design is confusingly similar to the Australian flag, and even though many New Zealanders liked the idea of a flag change, the government didn't suggest any designs that were popular enough to get a majority of voters behind them.

If you're curious how each part of New Zealand voted, you can see a color-coded summary and map of the results on Wikipedia. Be be aware that the blue just represents regions that voted just over 50% in favor of changing the flag: No area had more than 52% of voters supporting the Silver Fern, and some of the red-coded areas also had almost 50% support for the change.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About New Zealand's Flag Referendum

Current flags of New Zealand (source) and Australia (source) are in the public domain.

Friday, November 20, 2015

New Zealand Voting on New Flag Design

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Updated 2015-12-16: Continue to the bottom of the article for the results of the flag referendum!

Graphic illustrating the five flag designs up for a vote in New Zealand's November-December 2015 flag referendum: Silver Fern (Black and White), Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue), Silver Fern (Black, White, and Blue), Koru (black), and First to the Light (Red Peak)
The five options for a new flag of New Zealand. Clockwise from top left: Silver Fern (Red, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood; Silver Fern (Black, White and Blue) by Kyle Lockwood; Koru (Black) by Andrew Fyfe; Silver Fern (Black and White) by Alofi Kanter; and Red Peak by Aaron Dustin. More information in article below. License: CC BY 3.0 nz

By Evan Centanni

A New Flag For New Zealand?
For decades, New Zealand has debated whether to change its flag, and now the country is finally putting the matter to a vote. A controversial initiative of Prime Minister John Key, the referendum officially began today, November 20. Over the coming three weeks, New Zealanders will choose their favorite from five contending flag designs. A final vote on whether to adopt the winner or stay with the old flag will happen next March. New Zealand's current flag has been in place since 1902, nearly fifty years before the country became fully independent from the UK. Its top left corner is occupied by the so-called "Union Jack", which is still the flag of the UK today.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Paraguay's Subtle Flag Change

Sometimes geopolitical changes make headlines, but other times they slip quietly under the radar. In particular, small modifications to national flags often fail to make the news. To make sure you don't miss anything, here's a report on one such flag change that even we discovered only recently.

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Flag of Paraguay, obverse (front) side, 2013-present
Flag of Paraguay, 2013-present (front)

Flag of Paraguay, reverse (back) side, 2013-present
Flag of Paraguay, 2013-present (back)

Changes to the Coat of Arms of Paraguay made in 2013, with a comparison of the National Seal and Seal of the Treasury as seen on the Paraguayan flag before and after its changes under the administration of President Federico Franco.
The Coat of Arms of Paraguay
(CC BY-SA; source graphics)
By Olga Rodriguez-Walmisley

2013 Flag Change
On July 15, 2013, Federico Franco, at that time the President of Paraguay, announced that the official seals on both sides of the Paraguayan flag would undergo changes in order to better represent the symbols first chosen for it in 1842. These two seals together make up the national coat of arms of Paraguay.

Franco said the modifications were the result of a long debate and “a consensus that is not often achieved among historians”. There had already been several changes to the seals in the past, especially after the Paraguayan War of 1864-1870, which pitted the country against Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Changes made to the National Seal
One of the biggest of the 2013 changes was to the ring around the star, where it says “República del Paraguay”. This ring has been red since about 1988, when it was changed under the rule dictator Alfredo Stroessner, whose political party was represented by that color. It is now white. The blue background behind the yellow star has also disappeared, and the text of the phrase “República del Paraguay” has changed from yellow to black.

Changes made to the Seal of the Treasury
On the reverse side of the flag, the roaring lion is now a light ochre (golden) color instead of yellow, the spear behind the lion is brown, while the cap on top of the spear, which according to tradition symbolizes liberty, continues to be red. The inscription “Paz y Justicia” (Peace and Justice) is now black instead of yellow, and the banner behind the inscription has gone from red to white.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Belarus's Quiet Flag Change

Sometimes geopolitical changes make headlines, but other times they slip quietly under the radar. Such is the case with the flag of Belarus, which was changed without fanfare (or explanation) by a government decree back in 2012. We don't want you to miss any changes to the world's list of countries and flags, so we now present a belated report on this little-known event.

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Flag of Belarus, 2012-present
Flag of Belarus, 2012-present
Flag of Belarus, 1995-2012
Flag of Belarus, 1995-2012
Flag of Belarus, 1991-1995
Flag of Belarus, 1991-1995
By Caleb Centanni

Belarus, a former Soviet state in Eastern Europe, made a slight change to its flag in early 2012. On Feb. 10 of that year, the State Committee for the Standardization of the Republic of Belarus announced a minor change to the ornamental pattern on the left margin of the flag.

The pattern originally occupied one-twelfth of the flag's total length, and was located inside a white margin making up one-ninth of the flag design. The ornamental pattern has now been extended to fill the entire one-ninth margin. The Belarusian government apparently provided no specific reason for the change.

Other than this minor adjustment, the current flag of Belarus has been in place since 1995, when it replaced the traditional white-red-white flag after a controversial referendum that critics denounced as unconstitutional.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko supported the adoption of the 1995 flag, which is very similar to the Soviet-era flag. State-owned media argued the traditional tricolor flag was unacceptable due to its use by Nazi collaborators in World War II.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Malawi's Flag Change

New and old flags of Malawi
Malawi's original rising-sun flag (left) is being re-adopted, after being controversially replaced two years ago by the full-sun banner (right). Graphics are in the public domain (left source; right source).
Just two years after adopting a new flag, the southeast African country of Malawi is changing back to the old one. The original banner, in place from independence in 1964 until its replacement in 2010, was voted back in by the national parliament on May 28, 2012.

Flag of Malawi Country Name:  
• Malawi (English)
• Malaŵi (Chichewa)
Official Name:  
• Republic of Malawi (English)
• Dziko la Malaŵi (Chichewa) 
Capital: Lilongwe
The independence flag, which displays a rising sun to represent the dawn of hope for Africa, was controversially replaced by President Bingu wa Mutharika two years ago. The colors were shuffled around to more closely match the Pan-African Flag, and the red rising sun was changed to a full white sun to symbolize the progress made by Malawi since independence.

When President Mutharika died last April, the Malawian government wasted little time in reverting the unpopular flag change. The move was supported by newly sworn-in President Joyce Banda, who had recently experienced a falling-out with Mutharika and started a new political party.

Although the flag change vote passed in parliament, it is still unclear whether it has passed officially into law via the required presidential signature. In any case though, the rising-sun flag appears to be widely in use again, being flown in the Olympics and displayed on many official websites (except for the main government homepage).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Syrian Uprising: Map Update 5

There are newer versions of this map available. To see them, view all Syria updates.

Political Geography Now presents an updated map of territorial division in Syria, where escalating violence is now referred to by the U.N. as a full-scale civil war. Read on for a rundown of recent events.
Map of rebel control in Syria's Civil War, updated for July 2012
Activity by rebel groups in Syria, marking areas of armed conflict as well as towns and cities held. Map by Evan Centanni, starting from this blank map by German Wikipedia user NordNordWest. License: CC BY-SA

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Libyan Rebels Take Capital

Country Name: Libya (English), Lībyā (Arabic)
Official Name (National Transitional Council): Libya, Libyan Republic
Official Name (Gaddafi Regime): Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahariya (English), al-Jamāhīriyyah al-‘Arabiyyah al-Lībiyyah ash-Sha‘biyyah al-Ishtirākiyyah al-‘Uẓmá (Arabic)
News Category: Divided Countries
Summary: Libyan rebels last month took sudden control of the national capital of Tripoli and other cities, ending months of stalemate in the North African country's civil war. Although the old government of Muammar Gaddafi maintains control of a few holdout cities, the rebel National Transitional Council is gaining increasing recognition internationally. The power transition is bringing with it changes to the country's flag and official name.

Control of Libya on June 1 (left) and September 2 (right). Gaddafi-held cities in green, rebel-held cities in
black. Blue represents ongoing struggle for control. Public domain maps from Wikimedia (source).