The flag of Greenland was adopted on June 21, 1985. The flag is rectangular with two horizontal fields. The top field is white and the bottom is red. The flag features a large circle also divided into two fields and positioned towards the left side of the flag. The top half of the circle is red and the bottom half is white, opposite the flag’s background. In Greenland, the flag is called Erfalasorput, which means “our flag,” or Aappalaatoq, which means “the red.”
The design and colors of the flag reflect Greenland’s unique landscape. The white field, for example, represents the ice cap and glaciers that cover most of the island. The red field represents the ocean. The white part of the circle symbolizes the icebergs and pack ice, and the red part of the circle symbolizes the fjords. The overall design also depicts the sun setting on the horizon, reflecting its light on the sea. Finally, the colors match the Danish flag, the Dannebrog, a symbolic statement of Greenland’s existence as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.
Discussion about developing an authentic flag of Greenland began in 1973. Five enthusiastic Greenlanders proposed a green, white, and blue flag that they thought would be appropriate for their country’s banner. Still other Greenlanders developed ideas for a distinctive country flag, and in 1974, a Greenland newspaper published eleven of these proposed flag designs. Although the newspaper asked its readers to vote for their favorite flag, all except for one of the flags featured the Nordic cross, and the majority of the readers favored the traditional Dannebrog (flag of Denmark).
Efforts to develop a flag of Greenland stalled until 1978, when Denmark declared Greenland an autonomous country. Greenland’s government called for flag proposals, and received an overwhelming 555 designs. Despite the hundreds of proposed designs, Greenland’s flag committee could not agree on a flag and asked Greenlanders for more proposals. Finally, in 1985, Greenland adopted its current flag, designed by native Greenlander Thue Christiansen. Christiansen’s design won by a narrow margin over a flag designed by Sven Tito Achen, featuring a white Nordic Cross in front of a green background.