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Symbol of revolution and liberation for Egyptians

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The Egypt flag is the national symbol of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Egypt is a country in North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Gaza Strip of Palestine and Israel to the northeast, the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.

Egypt arguably has the earliest civilisation in the world, with a rich history tracing back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. The ancient kingdom is known for developing writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. After the 1952 revolution, Egypt declared itself a republic. However, the country had to endure years of social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel throughout the second half of the 20th century.

Following the 2011 Egyptian revolution which saw the ousting of Hosni Mubarak and years of political unrest, Egypt became a semi-presidential republic led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi from 2014. Today, Egypt is considered one of the great powers in Africa, the Middle East and generally in the Muslim world. The official language of the country is Arabic.

Egypt has the third largest economy in Africa. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the World Youth Forum.

What is Egypt flag?

The Egypt flag is a tricolour which consists of the three equal horizontal red, white, and black bands of the Egyptian revolutionary flag that can be traced back to the 1952 Egyptian Revolution. The flag also bears Egypt’s national emblem, the Egyptian eagle of Saladin, centred in the white band.

Egypt’s flag history

The Flag of Rashidun Caliphate (632 – 661)
The Flag of Rashidun Caliphate (632 – 661)

The first known Egypt flag was a plain black flag of the Rashidun Caliphate, which was the largest empire in the world between 632 to 661. In 661, the Umayyads took control and changed the flag to plain white.

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The Abbasid Caliphate (750 – 1258) and Fatimid Caliphate (909 – 1171)

The Flag of the Fatimid Caliphate (909 – 1171)
The Flag of the Fatimid Caliphate (909 – 1171)

In 750, the Abbasid Caliphate came into power and re-adopted the previous black flag as their national symbol. However, the Fatimid Caliphate overthrew the Abbasid, taking control of most of Egypt, including Cairo. Hence, the Caliphate introduced a plain green flag as the national symbol.

The Ayyubid Sultanate (1171 – 1341) and Mamluk Egypt (1341 – 1517)

The Flag of the Ayyubid Dynasty (1171 – 1341)
The Flag of the Ayyubid Dynasty (1171 – 1341)
The Flag of Mamluk Egypt (1341 – 1517)
The Flag of Mamluk Egypt (1341 – 1517)

In 1171, the Ayyubid Sultanate took control of Egypt and adopted a plain yellow flag as its national symbol. Then, the Mamluk Sultanate overthrew the Ayyubids, in 1341 but retained the yellow flag with a slight variation. Instead of plain yellow, the flag consisted of a white crescent which symbolised the new Sultanate’s faith in Islam.

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The Ottoman Empire (1517 -1844) and Khedivate of Egypt (1844 -1867)

The Flag of Ottoman Egypt (1517 -1844)
The Flag of Ottoman Egypt (1517 -1844)
The Flag of the Khedivate of Egypt (1844 -1867)
The Flag of the Khedivate of Egypt (1844 -1867)

Egypt officially became an Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire after the Ottoman-Mamluk War in 1517. The flag was changed to a red field with a white crescent and a five-pointed star in the centre. When Mohammed Ali, an Ottoman commander, seized power in Egypt, he ordered that a similar flag be flown, as Mohammed reportedly harboured a grandiose ambition of deposing the Ottoman dynasty and seizing the sultanic throne himself. Under his reign, and that of his sons and grandsons, Egypt enjoyed independence, known as Khedivate.

Sultanate, Kingdom and Republic of Egypt

The Flag of the Sultanate of Egypt (1914 – 1923)
The Flag of the Sultanate of Egypt (1914 – 1923)
The Flag of the Kingdom of Egypt and Republic of Egypt (1923 – 1958)
The Flag of the Kingdom of Egypt and Republic of Egypt (1923 – 1958)

Egypt was declared to be a sultanate after the Ottoman sovereignty ended in 1914. Hence, the flag was altered to depict three smaller crescent moon and stars in a triangle on the left side of the flag. After the Urabi Revolt in 1882, the British forces occupied Egypt, sparking more protests and resistance among the people. Hence, the red flag introduced by Muhammad Ali and a special green banner bearing a crescent and cross were used to protest against the British.

In 1922, Egypt gained independence from the United Kingdom, on the condition that the Sultan of Egypt, Fuad I, changed his title to King. Hence, the country became known as the Kingdom of Egypt and King Fuad issued a Royal Decree formally adopting a new national flag of a white crescent with three white stars on a green background in it. The three stars represented the three main territories of the Kingdom – Egypt, Nubia, and Sudan. Also, the green signifies the agricultural nature of the country while other sources suggested that it symbolised Islam as the main religion of Egypt.

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Republic of Egypt (1953–1958) and United Arab Republic (1958–1972)

Republic of Egypt (1953–1958)
Republic of Egypt (1953–1958)
United Arab Republic (1958–1972)
United Arab Republic (1958–1972)

After the Revolution of 1952, the Egyptian Free Officers retained the flag of the Kingdom but introduced the Revolutionary and Liberation flag of red, white, and black horizontal bands, with the emblem of the Revolution and the Eagle of Saladin in the centre band. In 1958, Egypt’s leader,  Gamal Abdel Nasser formed a new regional political union, known United Arab Republic (UAR), while Syria united with Egypt to form the UAR. A new flag was introduced, which was similar to the previous one except that two green stars replaced the Eagle of Saladin.  The two green stars are still used in Syria’s national flag to this day.

 Federation of Arab Republics (1971 – 1984) and Arab Republic of Egypt (1984 to Present Day)

The Flag of Egypt under the Federation of Arab Republics (1971 – 1984)
The Flag of Egypt under the Federation of Arab Republics (1971 – 1984)
The Flag of Egypt (1984 to Present Day)
The Flag of Egypt (1984 to Present Day)

Syria withdrew from the UAR in 1961, but Egypt continued to use the official name of the United Arab Republic until 1971. Then it was changed to the Arab Republic of Egypt. However, Egypt merged with Syria and Libya to form the Federation of Arab Republics. The federation also adopted the liberation flag but the two green stars in the white band were replaced by the Hawk of Quraish.

The Federation of Arab Republics was dissolved in 1977, but Egypt retained the flag until October 4, 1984. the Hawk of Quraish was later replaced in the white band by the Eagle of Saladin.

Egypt’s flag meaning

The red at the top represents power and hope. It also symbolises the blood Egyptians shed to gain independence. The white in the middle of the flag represents purity and the bright future of Egypt while the golden eagle is simply a representation of one of the most powerful birds in the world. Finally, the black colour at the bottom symbolises how darkness is overcome.

Egypt’s flag colours

The Egypt flag colours consist of red, white, and black, with the golden Eagle of Saladin in the centre.

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