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Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Last modified: 2008-02-09 by zeljko heimer
Keywords: ethiopia | panafrican colors | power | faith | church | peace | wealth | love | land | hope | holy trinity | pentagram | lion |
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[Flag of Ethiopia] [National flag and ensign] 1:2
by Željko Heimer, 29 August 2001
Flag adopted on 6 February 1996, coat of arms (emblem) adopted 6 February 1996.

See also:

The 1996 National Flag

This is the new Ethiopian flag, based on information and a picture from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. The circle only just overlaps the top and bottom bands. The pentagram is actually made of five Y-shapes, each rotated 72 degrees around the centre of the star to make the new one.
Graham Bartram, 2 July 1996

Green-yellow-red tricolour with emblem in the middle. The emblem (also used as the coat of arms) is light blue disk, of diameter (approximatley?) half the hoist inscribed with yellow pentagram symbol. The green seems to be rather dark aproximated in Album 2000 [pay00] as Pantone 349c.
Željko Heimer 29 August 2001

The plain tricolour

[Flag of Ethiopia]
by Ivan Sache, 18 July 2000

Probably the most widespread Ethiopina flag in use no matter what the central symbol was official at the given time, is the plain tricolour. I have never seen any supporter waving a flag with the emblem. I first looked after some political meaning in this flag, but this was erroneous. My "definitive" interpretation is that the flag with emblem is complicate and expensive to manufacture, whereas everyone is able to identify correctly a "plain" Ethiopian flag. By the way, the "plain" flag seems to be usually 2:3 in proportion and not 1:2. I would say that the "plain" flag is a kind of non-official "civil" flag.
Ivan Sache, 18 July 2000

For example, the BBC web pages included [in March 2001] paper about withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from a buffer zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Interestingly, there are two color photos showing the Ethiopian flags without emblems, both apparently 1:2.
Jan Zrzavy, 8 March 2001

I visited Ethiopia a few months ago (a great country to visit despite the poverity), and I can confirm that the vast majority of national flags there are flown without the blue disk and star in the middle. However, the blue disk and star appears on many government documents including my visa, declaration forms, exchange forms, etc. The flag with the disk and star can be seen at the airport, government offices, and almost nowhere else. The Ethiopians are quite fond of their flag and it, as well as paintings of it, are frequently seen but without the disk and star.
Just thought you might be interested in these observations.
Robert Wilson, 26 December 2002

Meaning of the flag

The green-yellow-red flag appeared in 1897. It was the flag of Ethiopia that became the basis for the panafrican colours. Before the end of the Ethiopian Empire the colours were interpreted as: red for power and faith; yellow for church, peace, natural wealth and love; and green for land and hope. The colours were also interpreted as having a connection to the Holy Trinity, and the three main provinces. At first the flag was used as three separate whimps, and arranged in rectangular shape on 6 October 1897, with red at the top. At some point the order of colours was changed.
Željko Heimer, 14 December 1995

The national flag symbolizes the honor and beauty of the Ethiopian nation: green represents the fertility of the country, yellow the religious freedom found there, and red the lives sacrificed in the protection of national integrity.

Recently, the Council of Peoples' Representatives endorsed the proclamation of a new emblem on the national flag. The new emblem will have a radiant star with equidistant rays to show the equality of all ethnic groups as well as creed and gender equity. The shining rays from the star testify to a bright future for Ethiopia, and surrounding the emblem will be a blue background to denote peace and democracy in Ethiopia

located by Dov Gutterman, 7 May 1999

From a website no longer active:

According to the Flag and Emblem proclamation colours and shape of the flag is:

The Flag shall have the colours: green at the top, yellow at the middle and red at the bottom.
The colours shall be bright and basic.
The colours shall be structured horizontally and be of the same size. The length of the Flag shall be twice its width.
The Emblem shall be a blue circle with depictions:
a) straight and equal lines of yellow that come from all directions and join each other;
b) a star formed by the straight and equal lines;
c) yellow rays radiating from the joints of the straight and equal lines.

located by Dov Gutterman, 7 May 1999

Regarding the order of the colours, as noted elsewhere, the original 1897 flag was flown with red at the top. It was explained to me that the flag was still traditionally flown "upside-down" with red at the top when the country was at war, though (fortunately!) I never witnessed this myself.
Simon Gardner, 7 April 2001

Article from 1994 Draft Constitution

Draft constitution of 8 December 1994

Article 3 The Ethiopian flag:

  1. The Ethiopian flag consists of three horizontal bands of equal size, the uppermost green, the middle yellow and the nethermost red.
  2. The National Emblem on the flag shall reflects the equality of the Nations, nationalities, peoples and religions in Ethiopia and their aspirations to live in unity.
  3. Each member state of the Federation may have its own flag and emblem. Particulars shall be determined by their respective parliaments.

Pascal Vagnat, 5 June 1996

The 1987-1991 variant

[1987-1991 variant]
posted by Robert Czernkowski, 10 June 1998

This flag appeared on the most common postage stamps even for years after the overthrow of the socialist government in 1991. The central device is the emblem of the "Peoples Democratic Republic of Ethiopia" as the country was called at the time. The five pointed star and rays over a cogwheel is surrounded by a wreath of green leaves.
Simon Gardner, 7 April 2001

[Flag of Ethiopia, 1987-1991] [National flag and ensign] 1:2
by Manuel Gabino, 14 December 2002

Flag used by Ethiopia in 1987-1991. In year 1987 through a referendum, Ethiopia becomes in a Democratic People's Republic, Meghistu is confirmed in the presidency and the country is administratively divided into 24 administrative regions and 5 autonomous regions: Eritrea, Assab, Ogaden, Tigre, and Dire-Daua. (Source: "Guía Mundial 1992", Abril Cinco ed. Colombia 1992).
This flag was flown also in the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.
The shield is circular in shape. It is blue bearing (according to William Crampton) the "obelisk of Axum" (a former Kingdom settled in the region of Tigre), a cogwheel, a red ribbon depicting a golden lion's head, an spear and a scepter, a yellow star on red and a the country's new name (?) at the top in Amharic characters.
Manuel Gabino, 14 December 2002

[Emblem of Ethiopia, 1987-1991] [Emblem of Ethiopia, 1987-1991]
by Manuel Gabino, 14 December 2002

As I've seen the original flag during Mengistu's official visit to Prague (1988?), I believe that the Aksum monument should have been brown - and also the cogwheel coloration looks a little bit unfamiliar.
Jan Zrzavy, 15 December 2002

Source were Encyclopaedia britannica, and an engraved plate (at the time) at the Ethiopian consul office to Mexico. Currently the engraved plate there is like the emblem in the present-day flag.
Manuel Gabino, 19 December 2002