The flag of Cuba was officially adopted on May 20, 1902, although it had been in use for over fifty years before this date. The flag is rectangular with alternating blue and white horizontal stripes (three blue and two white). On the left side is a red triangle with a white star in the center.
Six Cuban revolutionaries—Narciso López, Miguel Teurbe Tolón, José Aniceto Iznaga Borrell, José Maria Sánchez Iznaga, Cirilo Villaverde, and Juan Manuel Macías—designed the flag in 1848 during the country’s battle for independence from Spain. Tradition holds that while these revolutionaries held their meetings, Narciso Lopez’s wife embroidered the first Cuban flag, and that the ideas for the flag were those of Miguel Tuerbe Tolón, who was also a poet. López, who led the revolutionaries, carried the Cuban flag for the first time at the Battle of Cárdenas in 1850 and the Battle of Playitas in 1851.
The flag’s design holds symbolic meaning. At the time of Cuba’s independence, the country was divided into three parts: Central Cuba, Occidental Cuba, and Oriental Cuba. These regions of the country are represented by the three blue stripes on the flag. The two white stripes in between the blue stripes represent the strength and purity of the independence movement. The red, as in many national flags, represents the bloodshed of the Cuban revolutionaries during the independence era. Today the red also stands for equality, brotherhood, and liberty. The white star symbolizes an independent and free Cuba.
In 1869, after Cuba gained independence from Spain, the Cuban flag became the national flag of the Republic of Cuba until the Spanish-American War in 1899. From 1899 until 1902, Cuba was required to fly the United States flag, as the country was under siege by the U.S. When Cuba gained independence from American control in 1902, the Cuban government officially adopted the current flag.