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Understanding history of Peru national symbol

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The Peru flag is the national flag of the Republic of Peru. Peru is a country located in South America. The country is bordered to the north by Ecuador and Colombia, to the east by Brazil, to the southeast by Bolivia, to the south by Chile and the south and west by the Pacific Ocean.

Peru officially announced its independence in 1821. Following the foreign military campaigns of José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar, and the decisive battle of Ayacucho, the country attained its complete independence in 1824. Following independence, Peru has endured years of political and social instability. The country has also enjoyed years of economic expansion and poverty reduction. Its economy revolves around mining, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing, along with other growing sectors such as telecommunications and biotechnology.

Peru’s capital and largest city is Lima. With a population of over 32 million, Peru is the 19th largest country in the world and the third largest in South America. The population is made up of people including Mestizos, Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The official language is Spanish, though many speak Quechuan languages, Aymara or other indigenous languages.

What is Peru’s flag?

According to Article 49 of the Peru Constitution, the Peru flag is a flag that has three vertical strips with a red outer strip and one white central strip. Also, the flag may be designed with another crest, depending on its use. Peru celebrates its Flag Day on June 7 every year to remember the Battle of Arica.

Peru flag history

1820 proposed Peru flag
1820 proposed Peru flag

Peru was one of the two Spanish viceroyalties in the Americas from the 16th to 18th centuries. Hence, the Spanish flag flew in the colony. During the fight for independence in 1820, the British-born General, William Miller, hoisted the first flag to represent the emerging country in Tucna. The flag was described as navy blue with a golden sun in the middle representing Inti. However, the original flag is now lost.

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Peru flag of 1820

Peru flag of 1820

Peru adopted its first official flag on October 21, 1820, under the leadership of General José de San Martín. The flag was diagonally quartered, with white upper and lower fields, and the others red. In the middle was an oval-shaped laurel crown in the centre, surrounding a sun rising behind mountains by the sea.

The meaning of the flag is uncertain. However, Peruvian author, Abraham Valdelomar, stated that San Martín was inspired by the colours of parihuanas, the red-and-white flamingos, when he arrived in the country via the coast of southern Pisco. However, other historians disputed this, saying that San Martín took the red from the flag of Chile and the white from the flag of Argentina, recognising the provenance of the men of the liberation army.

Flag of March 1822

Flag of March 1822
In March 1822, San Martín‘s replacement, José Bernardo de Tagle, Marquis of Torre Tagle and Supreme Delegate of the Republic, decreed a new flag which consisted of a horizontal triband, with a white band between two red ones, and a golden Inti at the centre. Torre Tagle claimed that the new design was necessary because the old design was inconvenient, among other issues. However, Torre Tagle’s design was later discarded due to its striking resemblance to the Spanish flag, making the distinction between the armies difficult.

Flag of May 1822

Flag of May 1822

In May 1822, Torre Tagle changed the country’s flag to consist of a vertical triband, with red outer bands and a white middle band, with a golden sun representing Inti at the centre.

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Flag of 1825

Flag of 1825

During Simón Bolívar’s administration on February 25, 1825, the constituent congress changed the design of the national flag. This time, the flag consisted of two vertical bands of red at the ends and white at the centre, with the coat of arms at the centre of the middle band. The new design was in line with the promulgation of the law of national symbols in the country.

Peru-Bolivian Confederation era, 1836–1839

Peru-Bolivian Confederation era, 1836–1839
Flag of Peru-Bolivian Confederation era, 1836–1839
Flag of the Republic of South Peru, 1836–1839
Flag of the Republic of South Peru, 1836–1839

From 1836 to 1839, Peru was divided into South and North Peru. North Peru joined Bolivia to form the Peru–Bolivian Confederation. However, South Peru designed its flag first which consisted of a red vertical band on the left, with a golden sun and four small stars above (representing Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cuzco and Puno, the four groups of the republic). On the right side, the divided lines consisted of an upper green side and a lower white side.

On the other hand, the flag of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation consisted of the coats of arms of Bolivia, South and North Peru, from left to right and slanted at different angles, on a red field, adorned by a laurel crown.

Flag of 1950

Flag of 1950
Photo credit: iStockphotos

In 1950, President Odría modified the flag by removing the coat of arms from the civil flag since it was used de facto. Instead, a national ensign and war flag were created for exclusive uses, each with a variant of the coat of arms, which was also changed slightly. The modifications remain relevant to this day.

Peru flag meaning

Red represents the blood that was spilled in the fight for independence. White is a symbol of purity and peace. Also, the flag has been linked to the parihuanas, the red-and-white flamingos which San Martín saw on his arrival to Peru.

Peru flag colours

The official colours of the Peru flag are red and white.

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