Flag of Greece

Flag of Greece
Country Greece
Population 10,341,277 (2023)
Area (Km²) 128,900 (2023)
Сontinent Europe
Emoji 🇬🇷
  hex rgb
#001489 0, 20, 137
#FFFFFF 255, 255, 255

The flag of Greece consists of nine horizontal parallel lines of equal width, with five blue lines and four white lines arranged in sequence so that the first and last line is blue. In the upper left part there is a blue square that unites the first five lines, with a white cross inside.

More than two hundred years have passed since 1807, when the first blue and white flag with a white cross on a blue background was designed, woven, consecrated, and hoisted in the Evagelistria Monastery on Skiathos. This was the flag established by the Constitution of Epidaurus, on which the cross was the symbol of Orthodoxy. Since then, there have been many versions of the choice of the shapes and colors of the Greek flag, as well as their meaning.

Moreover, there is no clear evidence in official documents of the time or later to justify the choice of these particular colors, type and shape of the flag, according to a study by the Department of Army History entitled "The Greek Flag" conducted in 2005.

Meaning of the flag of Greece

There are disagreements among historians about the rationale for the choice of white, blue, and flag symbols, which continue to this day. In particular, the following views and versions are expressed. However, most of them are fantasies and lack evidence.

  • The blue and white combination comes from the colors of the goddess Athena. 
  • The parallel lines that repeat symbolize the sea and its waves. 
  • The colors symbolize the sky (blue) and the foam of the sea waves (white). 
  • The colors refer to sailor's pants (blue) and fustanella (white).
  • The colors were chosen from the blue and white flags of Alexander the Great's army or the blue and white official clothes of Byzantine officials, or from the imperial flag of the Paleologists. 
  • The colors and shape are borrowed from the flag of the famous leader John Statas. 
  • The white color symbolizes the purity and good deeds of the Greeks who sought independence. The blue color symbolizes the Greek sky, the celestial power that helped this unequal struggle to end favorably for the Greek people (this is the prevailing opinion). 
  • Nine horizontal stripes symbolize the nine muses. 
  • Nine blue and white horizontal stripes were found on the imperial flag of Nikephoros Phocas, which the Kallergis family kept on their coat of arms and flag, believing that it was descended from this emperor. 
  • The horizontal stripes were chosen based on the standards of the American flag (an opinion not unfounded). 
  • Nine lines - one for each syllable of the phrase "Freedom or Death" ("ELEUTHERIA Í THANATOS"), which was the oath of the Revolutionary fighters - five blue lines correspond to the syllables of "Eleftheria" [e-lef-θe-ri-a] and four white lines for "i thanatos" [i-θa-na-tos].

History of the Greek flag

In 1821, at the beginning of the Greek Revolution, each military corps had its own flag, as there was no single command. The revolutionary flags represented either the three-color symbolism of the Society of Friends (white, black and red) with images of symbols such as a phoenix rising from the ashes or an anchor, flags with a cross or an eagle, and so on. Many villages also used the flags of their parish churches. 

In 1822, the First National Assembly was held in Epidaurus, which adopted the "Provisional Constitution of Greece," the first Greek constitution. In this constitution, it was decided that the Greek flag would have blue and white colors and that the shape would be set by the executive branch, i.e. the government. Thus, the basic principles of the Greek flag design were established, which are still observed today. On March 15, 1822, Decision 540 of the Executive Branch was issued, signed by the President of the Corps, Alexander Mavrokordatos.

History of the Greek flag

In 1832, the royal emblem was added to the flags of the army and navy, but it was removed with the abolition of Otto's rule. Later, during the reign of George I, the royal crown was added to the army and navy flags, and the infantry flag was given the image of St. George. In 1914, a royal decree was issued that determined the shape of the flags without changing their basic characteristics. However, in 1924, the crowns were removed from the flags to implement the resolution of the Fourth Constituent National Assembly in Athens "On the Proclamation of Democracy," but they were returned in 1935. Subsequently, the colonels' junta removed the crown from the flags, and a new resolution in 1969 abolished the infantry flag, leaving the navy as the official flag. In 1970, the ratio of flags was changed from 2:3 to 7:12.

After the restoration of the Republic in late July 1974, a law and a presidential decree were issued that described the flag's symbols in detail. However, a subsequent law in 1978 established that the national flag should be blue and white and consist of nine horizontal stripes, the first and last of which should be blue. A white cross is placed in the upper left corner against a blue square. The ratio of flag width to length is 2:3.