by Sherri Smith
The flag of Switzerland is a red square with a white cross in the center of the flag. It was adopted from the flag of the Swiss canton of Schwyz (one of the first three Swiss cantons.) The flag was officially adopted as the flag of Switzerland on December 12, 1889; however, the design dates back to about 1480, which is long before Switzerland was even formed.
The flag of Switzerland stands for freedom, honor, and fidelity. An interesting thing to note is that the Swiss National Flag and the flag of the Vatican are the only square national flags. Additionally, for centuries, the Swiss people identified themselves with their cantons (regions). During the industrial age of the 19th and 20th centuries, there was huge migration inside Switzerland and many Swiss citizens could no longer identify with a specific canton, thus the national flag became more visible.
Another interesting fact is that when the International Committee of the Red Cross was founded to be a neutral institution to take care of the military or civil persons injured in war on the initiative of Henri Dunant and a Swiss general Dufour in 1864. Dufour proposed the reversal of the flag as an emblem. So the Red Cross flag is an inverted version of the flag of Switzerland.
The official use of the flag is to be displayed on federal, cantonal, and municipal buildings; however, there is no uniform pattern or regulation to its use. In private use, the flag is often shown as a display of patriotism and flown together with the cantonal and municipal flags.
Just like most other people, at first glance I would have never imagined that there was a flag specific to Vatican City. This is not the case however, as the current Vatican flag has been in place for over 70 years. The flag of the Vatican was originally adopted on June 7, 1929 by then Pope Pius XI. The flag was created as part of the treaty recognizing Vatican City as an independent state.
The Vatican flag is one of the most unique flags of any country or state in the entire world – in fact, there is only one other flag in the world like it. The Vatican flag consists of two vertical bands, one yellow and the other white. The interesting thing to note, however, is that the Vatican flag is actually square – one of only two flags in the world like this (the other being Switzerland).
On the right side of the Vatican flag sits the traditional Vatican City Coat of Arms, emblazoned upon a white background. The Vatican City Coat of Arms is a very symbolic representation of both the papacy and the Holy City. For example, there are two crossed keys displayed on the coat of arms; one gold and the other silver. The keys are symbolic of Matthew 16: 18-19, where God promises the keys of heaven to Saint Peter. Also displayed on the Vatican City Coat of Arms is the traditional tiara of the Papacy, a three-tiered crown. The three tiers of the crown are meant to symbolize the three functions of the priest; supreme priest, supreme pastor, and supreme teacher. Finally, displayed upon the top of the tiara is the traditional golden cross, representative of course of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All in all, the flag of the Vatican is perhaps one of the most symbolic and meaningful flags of any country in the world.