These 10 flags are objectively the best in the world
When Andre 3000 asked the ladies “What’s cooler than being cool?!” on hit single 'Hey Ya!' the correct answer, despite overwhelming feedback, was not “ice cold” but was in fact; flags. So here is a brief rundown of the ten cooler than cool flags from around the globe.
But before we start, a few disclaimers.
First thing’s first, if you've clicked on this article expecting some Sheldon Cooper Fun With Flags rubbish click that cross in the top right hand corner. This article isn't for you. This is straight up, pure and noble vexillology.
Next thing, we’re talking real national flags here. Proper ones. Proper countries. To quote Pointless host Richard Osman; “By country we mean a sovereign state recognised by the UN”. So sorry Puerto Rico, sorry Guam, sorry Curaçao, but you won't be on this list. Not that your pathetic attempts at flags would have been anyway.
Finally, my list is definitive. It is final. I am speaking as somebody that has got 197/197 on Sporcle’s Flags of the World quiz on several occasions. I am a member of the Flag Institute. I have books, plural, purely about flags. I literally drink from the cup of flags.
So here we go, Flagheads; the top 10 (because JOE would not commission me to rank all 197) national flags:
You know what’s nearly as great as flags? Beer? Steak? Literally anything else? No: maps. There's a couple of flags that have maps on them, or at least the outline of the country, but given Kosovo’s flag looks like a logo you'd see on the Master League on Pro Evolution Soccer 6, we have Cyprus in at number 10.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The brief when designing the flag of Cyprus banned the use of blue and red, the main colours of the flags of Greece and Turkey respectively.
Think back to Euro ‘96 or France ‘98 and what comes to mind? Oh, you said Gazza’s goal against Scotland and Michael Owen scoring against Argentina. Awkward. I actually wanted you to remember Croatia’s amazing checkerboard kits, which were all thanks to the coat of arms on their flag.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The shields on the coat of arms are taken from the ancient arms of Croatia, Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia.
Plenty of flags have weapons on them; Angola have a machete, Saudi Arabia went with a sword. Both of those pale in comparison to Mozambique’s weapon of choice: an AK-47, which represents the country's defence and vigilance.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The emblem on the flag also features a hoe (signifying agriculture), a star (symbolising Marxism), and an open book (symbolising education).
As Louis van Gaal will attest, attack is great but defence is even better, and that's why Swaziland’s majestic shield trumps the rifle of Mozambique. Swaziland’s flag does still come equipped with a couple of spears though, which should definitely help if you're ever in a fight with a man with a gun.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The black and white pattern on the shield represents a peaceful coexistence between all races in the country.
Johnny Cash’s 'Hurt'. The Clash’s 'I Fought The Law'. Sugababes' & Girls Aloud’s 'Walk This Way'. Panama’s Stars and Stripes. All cover versions that are arguably better than the original. And like all good cover versions, Panama put their own twist on the US flag they took inspiration from by removing the stripes and still managing to make it even better than the original.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The red and blue represent Panama’s opposing political parties, while the white signifies peace between the two.
South Africa, Czech Republic, Cuba: all flags with triangles on their hoist side, but what does Vanuatu’s flag have that they don't? Ferns and a boar’s tusk. You want to make your flag better, Czech Republic? Stick some ferns in your triangle. And maybe Petr Cech’s cap.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The boar's tusk is a traditional emblem in Vanuatu, and is worn as a pendant as a sign of prosperity.
4. Marshall Islands
My dad and I were once stood in Falmouth harbour looking at the boats when I spied a yacht flying the flag of the Marshall Islands. I turned to him and pointed it out. His response to my impressive vexillological observation? “If you know the flag of the Marshall Islands then you know too many flags." Still, cool flag.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The 24 points on the star represent the 24 electoral districts of the Pacific island nation.
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
OK admittedly the blue stripe on the fly side makes it look like somebody didn't crop the flag properly, but this has two of the key components of what makes a great flag: stars and diagonals. However, the best part of this flag is the contrast between the blue and the yellow, the same thing that makes the kit of Boca Juniors so iconic.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The triangular shape of the yellow section reflects the basic geographical shape of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2. Democratic Republic of Congo
Look at that shade of blue, marvel at it, take it to your local Homebase and ask them to colour match it for you because you're going to want to want to paint every room in your house that colour. Add in the gold star and the gold and red diagonal, and you're onto a winner. Almost.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The shade of blue you're looking for when you go to Homebase is actually Pantone 286C.
1. Papua New Guinea
Go to The Louvre and tear down the Mona Lisa, then head to the Sistine Chapel and make a start on amending the ceiling, because this flag is what should be in their place. This flag should be in every gallery across the world. This flag is art. Red and black have a striking contrast, there's stars, there's diagonals, and then what do they go and do to top it all off; they put a bird of paradise on it. Perfection.
ACTUAL FLAG FACT: The flag of Papua New Guinea was designed by a 15-year-old, whose life probably peaked at that moment.