Flag of Croatia

Flag of Croatia
Country Croatia
Population 4,008,617 (2023)
Area (Km²) 55,960 (2023)
Сontinent Europe
Emoji 🇭🇷
  hex rgb
#FF0000 255, 0, 0
#FFFFFF 255, 255, 255
#012169 1, 33, 105
#71C5E8 113, 197, 232
#FFCD00 255, 205, 0
#000000 0, 0, 0

The Croatian flag consists of a red, white, and blue tricolor, a chessboard shield, and a crown of five coats of arms.The Croatian tricolor and coat of arms were designed by artist Miroslav Šutej in 1990. The current Croatian flag was approved on December 21, 1990.

Meaning of the flag of Croatia

The Croatian flag consists of three colors:

  • red represents Croatia; 
  • white - Slavonia; 
  • blue - the Kingdom of Dalmatia. 

Five coats of arms of the Croatian flag

The flag also has a crown consisting of five coats of arms:

  • The first one on the left represents Croatia and is considered the oldest emblem of the Croats from the 12th century. It depicts a golden star and a crescent moon;
  • four alternating stripes of red and blue represent the city-state of Dubrovnik, an independent republic since the 19th century known as the Republic of Ragusa; 
  • three lion's heads on a blue background represent Dalmatia;
  • a golden goat with red horns and hooves symbolizes Istria; 
  • the last coat of arms symbolizes Slovenia, where a star is placed on a blue background in the upper part, and a marten is depicted on a red background between two white lines symbolizing the Drava and Sava rivers. 

An interesting fact is that the marten is an animal whose skin was used as currency by the ancient Croats. Hence the name of the currency "kuna", which means "marten" in Croatian. The kuna was in circulation from May 30, 1994, until December 31, 2022, when it was replaced by the euro.

What does the Croatian coat of arms look like and how did it appear?

The modern coat of arms looks like a shield divided into 25 red and white cells. The first cell in the upper left corner is red, then it changes in a checkerboard pattern.  Above the shield is a crown with five coats of arms: the oldest coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, the Republic of Dubrovnik, and Istria. There is a legend about the appearance of the coat of arms in this form. It is assumed that it originated in the 19th century, during the awakening of national consciousness. During his reign, King Stipan Drislav was captured in a battle against the Venetians. While he was imprisoned, the Venetians learned that the king was a good chess player, so they offered him a deal that guaranteed him freedom and ownership of the Dalmatian islands if he won three chess victories. His opponent was Doge Pietro II Orseolo, after whose victory the king brought freedom not only to himself but also to the islands. Since then, the chessboard has been the chosen Croatian coat of arms. There is also a theory that the traces of the cubes lead to Persia, i.e. the Iranian origin of the Croats. In Iran, the cardinal points were marked with colors: red for south and white for west. Contrary to these two theories, most historians believe that the origin of the coat of arms should be sought in the times of national rulers - square decorations were common in the territory of the Croatian early medieval state.

History of the Croatian flag

The first appearance of the flag was not from the state, but as a personal flag of Count Josip Jelacic-Bujemski (an Austrian commander of Croatian origin). It contained a red and white flag of Croatia and a white and blue flag of Slavonia, and in the middle was a shield with a royal crown divided into three parts containing

  • Croatian coat of arms - a checkerboard white and red field;
  • the coat of arms of Slavonia - the upper blue part with the image of a star, and between two white lines symbolizing rivers, there is an image of a marten on a red background;
  • the coat of arms of Dalmatia is a blue shield with three lion heads. 

This flag was raised for the first time on June 5, 1848, during the enthronement of Josip Jelacic as Ban. Since then, Croats have been using the red, white, and blue tricolor as a national symbol. For some time until the 1860s, the use of the tricolor was banned, but it was then officially adopted by the Croatian-Hungarian peace agreement in 1868.

In 1918, Croatia lost its statehood and, accordingly, its official flag. At that time, there was only a flag with a tricolor, without a coat of arms in the middle. In 1939, the coat of arms with a chessboard became the coat of arms of the Croatian National Day and a unique symbol of political and national identity. Although most flags during the Croatian War of Independence had a coat of arms, a simple tricolor without a coat of arms was also used.

History of the Croatian flag

In the period from 1943 to 1945, the flag of the Federal State of Croatia was used. Then, until 1947, an absolutely identical flag was used, but under a different name - the flag of the People's Republic of Croatia, and in the third period from 1947 to 1990 - the flag of the Socialist Republic of Croatia. In general, this period from the 43rd to the 90s can be united by a common flag, as it was almost identical and looked like a red, white, and blue tricolor with a red star in the middle. Only in the latest iteration of this flag was the star enlarged and a golden outline added.

In 1990, Croatia returned to using the old tricolor with a chessboard of 25 red and white squares. A version of the new flag of the Republic of Croatia was first officially displayed on May 30, 1990, on Ban Jelacic Square, and on December 21, it acquired its current appearance with a coat of arms and a crown in the shape of the five historical coats of arms of the Croatian countries.