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Symbol of Panama’s statehood inspired by creative First Lady



The Panama flag represents the important elements of the Panamanian people. Panama is a country located on the  Isthmus of Panama, in Central America. It is also the first Spanish colony on the Pacific and the home of several native American peoples, like the Guaymí, Kuna and Chocó.

Panama was regarded as “the door to the seas and key to the universe”, serving as the staging point for the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire in the 1530s and a transhipment point for gold and silver destined for Spain until the 19th century. Panama was once controlled by Colombia but gained independence on November 3, 1903, after Panamanians had revolted against the Colombian government.

Today, Panama is known as the Republic of Panama, with Panama City as its capital. The country is also a founding member of the United Nations and other international organisations like OAS, LAIA, G77, WHO, and NAM.

What is the Panama flag?

What is the Panama flag?

The Panama flag is the symbol of Panama as a sovereign state. It was created by the country’s pioneer First Lady, María de la Ossa de Amador, and was officially adopted by the “ley 48 de 1925”. On December 15, 1949, the Panamanian government officially described the flag in law as follows:

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“The Flag of the Republic consists thus of a divided rectangle of four quarters: the upper field close to the pole white with a blue star of five points; the upper field further from the pole, red; the lower field near the pole, blue; and the lower one further from the pole, white with a red star of five points.”

Panama flag history

Panama flag history

The first Panama flag was designed by Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla’s wife on November 1, 1903. She drew inspiration from the flag of the United States, consisting of 13 horizontal red and yellow stripes, with a blue canton holding two golden suns. The yellow colour represented Panama’s connection to Colombia and Spain, whose flags both feature red and yellow prominently. The stars in the blue canton were replaced with the two golden suns to represent North and South America.

However, the flag was rejected by the independent country’s first president, Manuel Amador Guerrero, who felt that the flag looked too similar to that of the U.S. Guerrero’s son, Manuel Encarnacion Amador, who was a recognised and talented artist, was given the task to design the country’s new flag. Manuel drew up a sketch, which he gave to the country’s first First Lady, Maria de la Ossa de Amador.

After so much difficulty in avoiding the Colombian army, the First Lady produced three copies of the flag, with help from her sister-in-law, Angélica Bergamonta de la Ossa, and her niece, María Emilia de la Ossa Bergamonta. The three copies were flown in Panama City on the country’s independence and distributed widely.

Today, Panama celebrates Flag Day on November 4 every year, a day after Panama‘s independence from Colombia.

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Panama flag meaning

Panama flag meaning
AP Photo/Moises Castillo

The Panama flag was designed to reflect the political situation of the time. The meaning of the flag is as follows:

  • The blue colour represents the Conservative Party.
  • The red represents the Liberal Party.
  • The white represents peace and purity.
  • The blue star represents the purity and honesty of the life of the country.
  • The red star represents the authority and law in the country, Together, the stars stand for the new Republic of Panama.

Panama flag colours

The Panama flag colours are white, red and blue. Note that the present flag is slightly different from the original flag, as the latter’s upper left quadrant was blue instead of white as it is today. However, the upper left quadrant has a blue star.

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