The flag of Latvia was officially re-adopted on February 27, 1990, after the Soviet Union banned its use from 1940 until 1990. The flag consists of a red rectangle with a white horizontal strip in the center. The red symbolizes the Latvian people’s willingness to give their lives to defend their liberty and freedom. The white stripe’s origins come from a legend in which a wounded Latvian leader had wrapped a white sheet around his body. The sheet became stained with blood on the edges while the center of the sheet remained white. As the legend goes, at the next battle, this sheet was used as the Latvian flag.
The exact colors and proportions of the Latvian flag were set on November 18, 1918, when Latvia became an independent nation. The flag was officially adopted for the first time in 1922 and was used until 1940 when the Soviet Union gained control of Latvia. The Latvian flat is flown on several days during the year including: Lithuanian Independence Day (February 16), Estonian Independence Day (February 24), Constitution Day/Labor Day (May 1), Renewal of Independence Day (May 4, 1990), Lacplesis Day (November 11), and Independence Day (November 18, 1918). The flag is also flown at half-mast in mourning on the following days: in memory of victims of communist genocide (Marcy 25, June 14, and the first Sunday in December), the beginning of the Soviet Union’s control of Latvia (June 17), and in memory of the Holocaust victims (July 4).
Latvia also uses four other official flags: the Presidential Standard, the Standard of the Prime Minister, the Standard of the Speaker of the Saeima, and the Standard of the Minister of Defense. All of these flags use a white background with a double-lined red cross. This red cross, with a white line running through it, represent the pattern of the Latvian National Flag. The Presidential Standard, the Standard of the Prime Minister, and the Standard of the Speaker of the Saeima all feature the Latvian coat of arms: the Presidential flag features the coat of arms in the center, the Prime Minister flag features the coat of arms in the upper left corner, and the Speaker flag features the coat of arms in the upper right corner. The Standard of the Minister of Defense features soldier insignia in the upper left corner.