The flag of Uruguay first adopted on December 16, 1828. The flag consists of a white rectangular background with blue horizontal stripes and a sixteen-ray “Sun of May” in the upper left corner.
The elements of the flag of Uruguay have historical and political significance. Joaquín Suárez de Rondelo, who was the Head of State of Uruguay in 1828, designed the flag. The flag adopted in 1828 and had seventeen stripes until July 11, 1830, when a new version of the flag was adopted with only nine stripes. The nine stripes represent the nine counties existing at the time Uruguay became an independent nation.
The “Sun of May,” has been a national emblem of Uruguay since the nineteenth century. It was an important political symbol during the May Revolution, a series of events occurring between May 18 and May 25, 1810 that ultimately resulted in the overthrow of Viceroy Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, the Spanish ruler who was governing Argentina and Uruguay. The May Revolution established a local government in Argentina, and began Argentina’s battle for independence. In addition to the symbol’s use during the May Revolution and on the Argentine and Uruguayan flags, the symbol was also used on the first Argentine coins.
Uruguay has two other national flags in addition to the national banner. The Flag of Artigas pays homage to José Gervasio Artigas, the Uruguayan “father of independence.” The Flag of Artigas is rectangular two blue horizontal stripes, one across the top and one across the bottom, and a white stripe in the center. There is a red diagonal stripe crossing the flag from the upper left corner to the bottom right corner. The Flag of Treinta y Tres celebrates the founding of Uruguay following its victory over a Brazilian revolutionary group. The Flag of Treinta y Tres is similar to the Flag of Artigas: it consists of a horizontal flag with three stripes, a blue stripe on the top, a white stripe in the center, and a red stripe along the bottom. In the center of the white stripe, the flag reads: Libertad o Muerte (liberty or death).