Bolivia is a country of contrasts, despite its wealth of natural resources, it is considered one of the poorest in the world. Its multi-ethnic population speaks no less than 37 languages, considered official. And the national flag is called the “Liberty Tricolor,” which is justified given that Bolivia has seen more than 200 coups d’état since it was approved in 1851. The constant struggle for freedom of the Bolivian people is reflected in both the flag and the coat of arms of the country.
This is what the modern flag of Bolivia looks like:
History of the flag
The first national flag in Bolivia, or Bolivarian Republic as it was then called, appeared in 1825 when the country declared its independence. The banner was a wide horizontal dark red stripe and two narrower green stripes around the edges.
There were two versions of the flag at the same time. The mournful one, with one gold star in a laurel wreath in the center, symbolizing the unity of the Bolivian people, and the ceremonial one with five stars representing the five departments (regions) that made up the country at that time.
The red-green flag did not last long. Already in 1826, the new president of the Bolivarian Republic, Antonio Jose de Sucre, issued a decree to change the national flag. It differed from today’s flag only in the order of colors: yellow, red, green (if listed from top to bottom). In the center there was also the coat of arms of the country – two female figures holding the inscription “BOLIVIA” and a shield framed by branches, on which were depicted a mountain, a llama, a bread tree and 6 stars – symbols of the departments.
The modern tricolor was adopted in 1851 and has existed until today without any changes.
The state is named Bolivia after Simon Bolivar.
The flag of Bolivia is a rectangular cloth with an aspect ratio of 22:15 and three equal horizontal stripes. In the center is the national emblem, different from the one adopted from 1826 to 1963. In addition to the official national flag, Bolivia also has a civil flag, the tricolor without coat of arms.
Another symbol of Bolivia is the Vipala, the banner of the Aymara Indians (one of the Inca tribes that lived on this territory). It is a cloth with equal sides filled with 49 squares of 7 colors: white, yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and green. Since 2009, the Vipala has been used inside the country on a par with the official flag, but is only a complement to it, not an equal substitute.
Bolivia lost access to the sea as a result of the Pacific War in 1879-83, after which the Department of Litoral became part of Chile. Nevertheless, the country still has its own fleet (river and lake boats) and has a naval flag – a blue rectangular cloth with the Bolivian tricolor and Vipala in the upper left corner, framed by nine yellow stars. The tenth star, the symbol of the lost department, is located in the center of the banner.
Bolivia is considered one of the poorest countries in the world. Although it has copper ores, gold, oil and gas. However, 50% of the country’s economy is occupied by the cultivation of coca and the production of the drug from this plant.
Flag colours of Bolivia
The color scheme of the flag has remained unchanged for almost 2 centuries. In the modern version, the upper stripe is bright red, the middle stripe is yellow and the lower one is dark green. There are many colors and shades used in the coat of arms, which differ significantly in different versions of the image.
Meaning of colors and symbols of the flag
The official meaning of the stripes on the banner was approved in Bolivia in 1888 during the reign of President Gregorio Pacheco Lees.
- Red is the symbol of the blood spilled by the heroes in the struggle for the creation and preservation of the Republic.
- Yellow – symbol of the country’s natural wealth and prosperity (according to one version, it also symbolizes the indigenous population – the Incas).
- Green is a symbol of the fertility of the land and hope.
The coat of arms of Bolivia shows a llama, a bread tree and a sheaf of wheat in an oval field with the sun rising over Mount Potosí as a background. These are the main agricultural resources that the state is rich in.
On a blue ribbon framing the oval is the inscription “BOLIVIA” and 10 five-pointed gold stars, symbolizing the departments (regions) of the country, including Litoral, which became part of Chile in 1883.
Around the central image are six red-yellow-green flags – three on each side, two crossed cannons, four muskets and a battle axe. On the bayonet of one of the muskets can be seen a red Thracian cap, a symbol of the struggle for freedom.
The composition is crowned by a laurel wreath and a giant condor, the largest bird of the Andes, a symbol of greatness.
There is also a theory that the coat of arms does not show a laurel, but rather the leaves of coca (coca bush), a plant traditionally used by the locals to get a boost of energy. In 2007, there was a proposal in the Bolivian parliament to formalize this version, but it did not receive support from the government.
General information about Bolivia
|Official language||Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani, and 33 other languages.|
|Territory||1 098 581 km2|
|Population||11 217 865|