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South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

Last modified: 2005-08-11 by rob raeside
Keywords: south georgia | south sandwich islands | antarctica | blue ensign | falkland islands | fur seal | penguin | reindeer |
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[South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands] by Dean McGee


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South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) used to be a dependency of the Falkland Islands, but since 1985, under the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Order, was formed as a separate British Overseas Territory, under a Commissioner who is at the same time, Governor of the Falkland Islands. There is a precise geographical definition of the territory here, with latitude and longitude co-ordinates:

For those who are interested, there is much useful information on British Overseas Territories on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office web site country profiles here.
Ivan Sache, 29 December 2004

The South Georgia blue ensign

I received a copy of a question sent to the Falkland Islands, together with the reply, which corrects previous reports that the blue ensign does not exist:
"Thank you for the depiction of the full achievement of arms of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Are these arms displayed in their entirety on the flag; and exactly how are these arms depicted on the Blue Ensign (e.g., within a white disc)? "

"They are displayed in their entirety and within a white disc.
Government House, Stanley, Falkland Islands."

David Prothero, 6 February 2002

This appears go be a reference to the pre-2002 flag (shown below:)

Old Flag

[South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands] by Dean McGee

I received a letter from Gordon Liddle, Operations Manager for the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, via Michel Lupant, confirming that the old flags used a white disc, but that the new flags he has just ordered are exactly like the ones on my site. To quote him:

"The flags which are currently in use have a white circle. The ones that I ordered a month or so ago to replace used stock are exactly as shown on the website ... The Commissioner's flag is also as shown on the website. The flags are all six feet by three feet as the British manufacturer does not use metric measurements. South Georgia has no roads no cars and so no car flags."

Graham Bartram, 18 October 2002

Description of the arms

[Arms of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands] from

This is coat of arms I found on an official site of the SGSSI government.

Goran, 29 October 2002

Detail of the shield

[Arms of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands] by Mario Fabretto

The Flag Bulletin, XXXII:2 (1993), describes the badge which was granted on 14 February 1992 to celebrate the liberation of the islands from Argentine occupation. It consists of a shield (lozengy argent and azure, on a pile vert a lion rampant or, armed and langued gules, holding a torch or, enflamed gules, and in chief two estoiles or), a reindeer crest, as supporters a fur seal and a macaroni penguin, and the motto 'Leo Terram Propriam Protegat' ('let the lion protect its own land'). The badge, framed with laurel, appears on a white disk in the center of the Union Jack when used as a personal standard of the governing commissioner of the territory.

Harald Müller, 4 October 1996

According to the Flag Bulletin, XXXII:2 (1993), the British dependency of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands was created on 3 October 1985. There are no permanent inhabitants, but there are scientific research bases. I attach an image of the shield, as I could reconstruct from the image appeared on the Flag Bulletin, with some details (red lion nails and torch fire) extracted from Album des pavillons nationaux.

Mario Fabretto, 2 May 1997

Roman Klimes' paper 'Symbols of Antarctica', published in [icv97], pp. 232-237, gives the official description of the coat of arms of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands:

The coat of arms was introduced on 14 February 1992 by Royal Warrant.
Official description:
Lozengy Azure and Argent, a Pile Vert thereon a Lion rampant Or holding a Torch also Or, enflamed proper between in chief two Estoiles Gold, and for the Crest upon a Helm with a Wreath Argent and Azure, upon a Mountain proper of four Crests each tipped Gules, a Reindeer statant and at gaze proper; Mantled Azure doubled Argent and for the Supporters: Dexter a Fur Seal proper and Sinister a [Macaroni] Penguin proper, the compartment per pale rock and ice proper overall a (tuft of grass) [Bend of Grass] [also] proper together with this Motto LEO TERRAM PROPRIAM PROTEGAT.

In the book, the whole text above is quoted in italics, except (tuft of grass), not italicized and put between brackets.

Further explanation of the symbolics of the coat of arms is as follows:
Azure, argent and vert refer to ice, snow, and grass, respectively. The lion is for Britain and the torch for exploration. The estoiles are from the arms of James Cook, who named South Georgia in honour of King George III and the South Sandwich Islands in reference to his sponsor, John Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1775 when the islands were discovered. There are two reindeer herds in South Georgia. Mountain peaks are red because they are volcanic. Supporters come from the local fauna. The motto translates to 'Let the lion protect its own territory.'

Ivan Sache, 2 May 2001

Flag of the commissioner

[Commissioner's flag] by Mario Fabretto, Jaume Ollé and
António Martins

Reported Blue Ensign

[South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands colonial ensign] by Blas Delgado Ortiz

based on an illustration in Znamierowski (1999).

The coat of arms which was granted on 14 February 1992 is used by the commissioner as a defacement for the Union Flag. It is not used as a defacement for a Blue Ensign.

David Prothero, 17 September 1997

Uncertain if this flag was ever used.