The flag of Rwanda was adopted on October 25, 2001. The flag is rectangular with three horizontal stripes. The top stripe is a bright but light blue and is twice as wide as the two other stripes. Below the blue stripe is a yellow stripe, and a green stripe lines the bottom of the flag. A yellow, twenty-four rayed sun is featured in the top right corner of the flag, in the blue field. Alphonse Kirimbenecyo, a Rwandan artist, designed his country’s current flag.
The flag’s colors and the sun have symbolic meaning for the people of Rwanda. The large blue stripe represents happiness and peace in Rwanda. The yellow stripe symbolizes Rwanda’s mineral resources, which contribute to the country’s economy. The green stripe stands for Rwanda’s natural resources and also for the Rwandan people’s hopes for prosperity. The yellow sun in the upper right corner stands for unity among the Rwandan people and also transparency and enlightenment.
Rawanda used a different flag from 1961—just prior to Rwanda gaining independence from Belgium—until the time of the current flag’s adoption. The older version of the flag was a vertical tricolor with an “R” in the middle. The “R” distinguishes Rwanda’s flag from Guinea’s national flag, which is a vertical tricolor with the same colors. The color choice for the older version of the flag represents the traditional African tricolor of red, yellow and green. In the older Rwandan flag, the red stripe is on the left side; the yellow stripe is in the middle and contains the large black “R” for Rwanda; and the green stripe is on the left side. Traditionally, the red represents the strength of the Rwandan people; the green represents peace; and the yellow stands for the Rwandan people’s hope for future development. Although this African tricolor flag was used for many years, the flag’s association with the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 during which over 800,000 people were murdered prompted creation of a new flag.