Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina
4 February 1998|
(Updated: 10 August 2001)
|Design||A wide medium blue vertical band on the fly side with a yellow right triangle abutting the band and the top of the flag; the remainder of the flag is medium blue with seven full five-pointed white stars and two half stars top and bottom along the hypotenuse of the triangle.|
|Designed by||Carlos Westendorp|
The flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina contains a wide medium blue vertical band on the fly side with a yellow right triangle abutting the band and the top of the flag. The remainder of the flag is medium blue with seven full five-pointed white stars and two half stars top and bottom along the hypotenuse of the triangle.
The three points of the triangle are understood to stand for the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. It is also seen to represent the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina which is shaped like a triangle. The stars, representing Europe, are meant to be infinite in number and thus they continue from top to bottom. The flag features colors often associated with neutrality and peace – white, blue, and yellow. The colors yellow and blue are also seen to be taken from the flag of Europe; the color blue was originally based on the flag of the United Nations. The present scheme is being used by both the Council of Europe which owns the flag and the European Union which adopted the Council of Europe's flag in 1985. They are also colors traditionally associated with Bosnia.
Bosnian flags through history
Kingdom of Bosnia 1377–1463 flag
The coat of arms of the Kings of Bosnia, who ruled from 1377 until 1463 over the area that is present day Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dalmatia, consisted of a blue shield with six gold fleur de lys displayed around a white bend; the fleur de lys perhaps symbolic of Lilium bosniacum, which is a native lily to the area. The crest is a plume of peacock feathers that sit within a coronet of fleur de lys. The House of Kotromanić reigned until 1463 when the Ottomans conquered the region, ceasing then the use of the royal coat of arms in Bosnia. The heraldic display of the kings would later be the basis for the arms adopted by the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.
Bosnian arms from the Fojnica armorial
One of the earliest, if not the earliest, coats of arms attributed to Bosnia come from the late-17th-century Fojnica Armorial. The Fojnica arms are shown upon a gold shield, two black ragged staffs are crossed in saltire with two Moor's heads surmounting the upper portion of each staff. Overall is a red inescutheon that was charged with an eight-pointed star and crescent. In the subsequent centuries, European sources would attribute arms to Bosnia that were heavily influenced by this depiction.
Coat of arms of Bosnia from the Fojnica armorial
Western Herzegovina 1760 flag
The green flag with the white crescent and star pointing to the left was used by Bosniak landlords in border parts in southern and western Herzegovina. The flag was most commonly used in wars. It also accompanied the troops of the Eyalet of Bosnia during the second siege of Khotyn in Bukowina. It differs from Ottoman flag by size and direction of crescent, but also it is swallow-shaped, like some West-European jacks and ensigns.
Western Herzegovina flag, 1760
Bosnian Revolt of 1830s flag
Bosnian Revolt Flag, 1831
Independent Bosnia 1878
In 1878 Bosnia existed briefly as an independent nation. Its flag was very similar to the flag used by Husein Gradaščević's revolt of 1830. It was green with a yellow crescent and star, but had more curvature to a typical Islamic crescent moon symbol. Bosnia was independent in 1878 for a few months, after the Ottoman troops left, but shortly afterward the Austro-Hungarians occupied Bosnia after an agreement reached in Berlin among major European powers. The green/golden flag was in use for about only two months.
Independent Bosnia, 1878
When the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina the flag was changed. The province of Bosnia used the flag that was red and yellow horizontally, but the province of Herzegovina used the same flag but with reversed colors. (yellow and red).
Flag of Bosnia during Austro Hungarian administration (the country was formally under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire) (1878 - 1908)
Flag of Herzegovina after Austro-Hungarian annexation (1908)
Flag of Bosnia after Austro-Hungarian annexation (1908)
Whilst being the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina within communist Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav flag stood as a canton, while the rest of the flag was red to symbolize the socialism and communism in Yugoslavia at the time. Bosnia and Herzegovina also had a new coat of arms during the Yugoslav period. It was a symbol of industrialism in Bosnia at the time.
Independent Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992–1998
On 6 April 1992 Bosnia and Herzegovina gained its independence from Yugoslavia and a new flag. The flag picked was the arms of the Kings of Bosnia Kotromanić dynasty, who ruled from 1377 until 1463 over the area that is present day Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dalmatia, consisted of a blue shield with six gold fleur de lys displayed around a white bend; the fleur de lys perhaps symbolic of Lilium bosniacum, which is a native lily to the area. The flag chosen in 1992 has a white background with the Bosnian Fleur-de-lis in the center.
Flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina May 20, 1992−February 3, 1998
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1998–present flag
The Bosnian Serbs who lived in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the signing of the Dayton Agreement viewed the flag with the 6 lys as only representing the Bosniaks (formerly: Bosnian Muslims) of Bosnia-Herzegovina, even though the flag was taken from the medieval Bosnian state. The flag was eventually changed into the current flag. The new flag was introduced by the UN High Representative after the Parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina could not decide on a solution that was acceptable to all parties. The new flag contains no historical or other references to the Bosnian state.
Flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina February 4, 1998−Present
Alternative flag versions (change of flag)
The first flag that was proposed in the First Set of Proposals was the "Czech Pattern", similar to the flag of the Czech Republic. It was intended to represent all three constitutive nations living in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The next proposal was the "Laurel branch". It is based on the light blue color of the United Nations Flag. It would have had a golden olive branch in the middle. The olive branch is taken from the United Nations emblem. The flag would have only one branch. The branch was rotated around 30 degrees counterclockwise. The third proposal was the simplistic "Map" proposal. It would also use the United Nations light blue color; however, there would be the addition of a white outline map of Bosnia and Herzegovina. No official text was ever published specifying the color of the outline, but it probably would have been white.
First alternative flag of first proposal
Second alternative flag of first proposal
Third alternative flag of first proposal
The Second Set of Proposals had flags that were truly representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole. The first flag design was a diagonally striped tricolor pattern of red to white to blue (different colors but in the same pattern as the Flag of the Republic of the Congo). In the center there would be a blue map of Bosnia and Herzegovina outlined in yellow in the middle inside a circle of 10 five-pointed yellow stars. The flag would have been a 1:2 ratio. The second flag proposed was very similar except it had 12 five-pointed stars to represent the European Union. The Flag of Europe has the 12 five-pointed stars. The third design was a bit more different from the first two designs. The diagonal tricolor shape was kept, but the diagonal white stripe was made wider so that the angle was not perfectly 45 degrees. In the center there was a yellow map of Bosnia and Herzegovina outlined in green and under it there were two green olive branches. The olive branch pattern was the same one that the United Nations uses in its flag. The final fourth design was kept the same emblem from the third design, but did not have the diagonal stripes. Instead it had a horizontal tricolor pattern of blue, white, and red (from top to bottom), similar to that of former Yugoslavia.
First alternative flag of second proposal
Second alternative flag of second proposal
Third alternative flag of second proposal
Fourth alternative flag of second proposal
The first Westendorp alternative flag was a highly similar one to today's flag, a diagonally divided top-hoist to bottom-fly yellow over light blue flag with line of 10 white five-pointed stars in the light blue field along the diagonal. The only major difference was that the colour of the background was UN blue. The second Carlos Westendorp alternative flag is a light blue flag (United Nations flag colors) with 5 bars interchangeably coming out of hoist and not reaching the other end. The colors are interchangeably yellow and white. In the third alternative flag, the field was light blue and had five narrow yellow bars.
First Carlos Westendorp alternative flag proposal
Second Carlos Westendorp alternative flag proposal
Third Carlos Westendorp alternative flag proposal
Westendorp's decision ended up being the first alternative flag. However, it was changed slightly to a darker blue to symbolize the European Union's flag.
- List of Bosnian and Herzegovinian flags
- Coat of arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Flag of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Flag of Republika Srpska
- Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Flag of Europe
- Zakon o zastavi Bosne i Hercegovine (English: Law on the State flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina), published on August 3, 2001 and valid from August 10, 2001; according to the Article 13 of the Law which proclaimed vacatio legis of seven days. Službeni glasnik BiH dated: August 10, 2001) (English: Official Gazette of Bosn. & Herz.) No. 19/01, published on August 3, 2001.