Guatemala is a country with fantastic tourist attractions, and it is essential to explore not only its beautiful landscapes and culture but also its flag.
While the Guatemalan flag may not be as well-known as the American or British flags, it holds significant importance for the people of Guatemala, just like the aforementioned flags do for their respective countries.
What is the Guatemala flag?
The Guatemala flag is the national flag of Guatemala, a Central American country. It features two horizontal stripes: Sky blue on top and bottom, with a white stripe in the middle. In the centre of the white stripe is the Guatemalan coat of arms, which includes various symbols representing the country’s history and values. The flag of Guatemala is known locally as the “Pabellón Nacional” or “Azul y Blanco” (Blue and White).
The Guatemalan coat of arms is prominently displayed in the middle of the flag. Important components of this emblem include the national bird of Guatemala and the quetzal, which represents liberty.
On September 15, 1821, the Central America nation was freed from Spanish domination, as written on a parchment scroll located beneath the quetzal. Remington rifles with their hands crossed symbolise Guatemala’s willingness to defend itself at all times and its dedication to safety. Additionally, there is a laurel crown, which stands for triumph, and crossed swords, which stand for respect.
Notably, the Guatemala flag is one of only four national flags of the United Nations that have a weapon prominently displayed. The other three are the flags of Mozambique, Haiti and Bolivia.
Furthermore, Guatemala’s flag follows a specific ratio of 5:8 in terms of its dimensions, making it one of five national flags worldwide that adhere to this particular ratio. The other countries with flags of the same dimensions are Argentina, Palau, Poland and Sweden.
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Guatemala flag history
Before the current design, Guatemala used the flag of the Federal Republic of Central America. However, in 1851, a pro-Spanish faction introduced the Spanish colours of red and yellow to the flag during a period of political turmoil. The original blue and white colours were reinstated on August 17, 1871, but with a new design featuring vertical stripes instead of horizontal ones to make it distinct from other flags. This version also included a new coat of arms.
Interestingly, Los Altos, the sixth state in the Federal Republic of Guatemala, once featured the dazzling quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala and a symbol of liberty, on its flag.
The “Bandera de Los Pueblos” or “Flag of Indigenous Peoples” was later introduced in 2008. On occasions when the President of Guatemala is present, this flag is flown beside the national flag of Guatemala. The four sections of the Bandera de Los Pueblos each have a different colour to symbolise a distinct ethnic group. They are black for Ladino people, white for Maya people, yellow for Garifuna people and red for Xinca people.
These colours are also important in the Qʁanil, a Maya symbol, where each colour stands for a component of the human body, a cardinal direction or an aspect of nature. In Mayan languages, “Qʼanil” means “seed” and it is one of the 20 days of the Maya calendar. Although the leaders of the various ethnic communities believed they were not sufficiently consulted in its formation, the Bandera de los Pueblos was met with a lacklustre reception despite its stated goal of fostering interculturality in Guatemala.
Guatemala flag meaning
As earlier mentioned, the national flag of Guatemala is a symbol rich in history and meaning, reflecting the country’s unique identity and heritage.
Its colours are significant and are attributed to various purposes, including ethnic groups, government and political reformation and military antecedents in Guatemala.
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Guatemala flag colours
The Guatemalan flag has a distinctive colour scheme, which consists of Maya blue and white. The Maya blue colour is represented by Pantone 297, with an RGB value of 73-151-208 and CMYK values of 64.9-27.4-0-18.4. The white colour is represented as Pantone Safe with an RGB value of 255-255-255.
The flag’s design and colours hold significant symbolism:
Sky Blue stripes
The two horizontal sky-blue stripes are a central feature of the flag. They represent Guatemala’s geographical location between two vast bodies of water: The Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea) to the east. Additionally, these blue stripes symbolise the expansive sky that arches over the nation. Guatemala’s national anthem further emphasises this connection between the flag’s blue and the sky above.
The white colour on the flag is a powerful symbol of peace and purity, reflecting the nation’s aspirations for harmony and unity among its people.
The choice of blue and white colours on Guatemala’s flag is influenced by its historical ties to the former Federal Republic of Central America, a union of Central American states during the early 19th century.
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