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Mexico - Evolution of the Mexico National Flag and Coat of Arms

September 27, 1821 - Nowadays

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by
Keywords: mexico | evolution | history | four flags | six arms |
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Brief History

The first Europeans to visit the coast were Francisco Fernández de Córdoba in 1517 and Juan de Grijalva in 1518; conquest began in 1519 and Hernán Cortés defeated the Mexica on August 23, 1521. Such is a brief space of time in which this land was brought under the dominion of Spain, which continued to rule over it for the next three hundred years. Growing discontent with Spanish rule led in due course to open revolt, the beginning of which is marked by the issuing of the Grito de Dolores on 16 September 1810; final independence came on 27 September 1821 and the country became an Empire under General Agustín de Iturbide. This, however, was short lived and gave place in 1823 to a republic; in 1864 an empire once more arose under the ill-fated Maximilian, only to be replaced again by a republic in 1867.

In 1968, the national flag was adapted for all purposes: state flag, civil flag, war flag, state ensign, civil ensign and war ensign.

In preparation for the 1968 summer Olympic games, Mexico rewrote its flag legislation not only by designing a new eagle / snake / cactus coat of arms but also by dropping officially the "plain" tricolor and adopted the flag with the arms as the one for all purposes.

Rita Ramirez, January 16, 1998;
Nick Artimovich, 16 Mar 1998;
Edward Mooney, 28 Apr 1998;
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, January 12, 2002.

By decree of Lic. Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, dated September 17, 1968, the National coat of arms was changed to the current one. It holds some differences to the one decreed by Don Venustiano Carranza in 1916.
Jorge Candeias, 27 Oct 1997, translating from La Bandera Mexicana website

Four national flags, five coat of arms, uncountable variants

Mexico, since independence was achieved on September 27, 1821, has had 4 (four) National Flags, and if we consider that has been four official decrees abolished each other regarding the flag and five for the coat of arms. It is that to mean that the one adopted in 1823 lasted until 1968 (excepting during the period of the Regency of the Empire and the Empire [1863-1867]), with 5 (five) "official" specifications according the government's in turn judgment, while the coat of arms was redefined or arranged officially 6 (six) times, all in the framework of the 1823-Decree.
It is remarkable that the 1823 Decree by means of which the Second National Flag was adopted was abolished in 1863, readopted in 1867 and last abolished in 1968, year on which the fourth National Flag and fifth coat of arms were adopted.

On the other hand, the Mexico National flag has remained actually the same: a vertical green-white-red tricolor, excepting by the changes granted to the coat of arms, but even the Coat of arms has, in most of the cases, preserved the same elements: eagle, snake, nopal plant, lagoon, and stone. Moreover, unlike other nations in the world, the Mexico National Flag did not modified despite of the government changes and political instability, except for the crown, added to the Mexican coat of arms then to the flag in 1821, and in 1863. However, this brought a huge disorder in drawing and unifying the Mexican symbol through out the nation.

This is a chronological description of the National Flag evolution through the different governments succeeded each other in the Mexico history:



Main facts


First empire

Sept. 28, 1821-May 1822

  • The "Trigarante" Army entered Mexico City (Sept. 27, 1821).

  • Imperial Regency (Sept. 28, 1821) led by Agustín de Iturbide.


Imperial flag
First Mexico National Flag:


May 21, 1822-March 1823

  • Empire (First Empire): Agustín de Iturbide self proclaimed as Agustín I (May 18/19, 1822).

  • Central-America annexation (1822).

  • Mexico among the largest countries of the world at the time, its territory runs from South Oregon (42º N) to East Panama (about 83º W, 8º S).

First federal republic

March 20, 1823-Oct. 1824

  • Proclamation of the Republic, headed by a Republican Commission formed by: Pedro Celestino Negrete (Chief of the Executive Power), Nicolás Bravo, and Guadalupe Victoria (March 20, 1823).

  • Central-America secedes (1824) to form the United Provinces of Central-America.

Second Mexico National Flag
First official version:


Oct. 4, 1824-Oct. 1835

  • United-States of Mexico (Oct. 4, 1824).

  •  The "Constitución Federal de los Estados-Unidos Mexicanos" is proclaimed.

  • Guadalupe Victoria first president (Oct. 10, 1824)

First centralistic republic

Oct 3, 1835/Dec 30, 1836-Oct. 1841

  • Anastasio Bustamante president (1835).

  • Spain recognized Mexico as an independent country (1836).

  • Code of the "Siete Leyes Constitucionales" (Constitutional Seven Laws) (Dec. 30, 1836).

  • Independence of Texas (March 1836).

  • First Yucatán secesion (1837-1843)


Oct. 10, 1841-July, 1843

  • Provisional government directed by Antonio López de Santa Anna.

Second centralistic republic

Dec. 19-23/June 12, 1843-Aug. 1846

  • "Bases Orgánicas de la Nación Mexicana" (Organization Bases of Mexico).

  • US wage the war to Mexico (May 1846)

Second federal republic

Aug. 4, 1846/May 21, 1847-Apr. 1853

  • President Interim Mariano Salas declared Santa Anna as the only legal president (Aug. 4, 1846)

  • Constitution and reforms Act of the United-States of Mexico (May 21, 1847).

  • US invasion (1846-1848). Mexico hands Upper California, New Mexico, and Arizona over to the United States of America, and recognizes the Texas annexation (Feb. 1848).

Third centralistic republic

Apr. 22, 1853-Feb 1856

  • Bases for the Administration of theRepublic.

  • Santa Anna is entitled "Alteza Serenísima" (Most Serene Highness) (1853).

  • Gandsen purchase (1854): The US government buys the Mesilla (northern of Sonora) (Dec. 13, 1853).

Third federal republic

Feb. 1856/Feb. 5. 1857-Jun. 20,1863

  • Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States (Feb. 5. 1857).

  • French invasion (1862-1867)

Second Empire

June 21, 1863-Apr./Jun. 1864.

  • Imperial Regency formed by a Government "Junta" made of Juan N. Almonte, José Mariano Salas, and Antonio Labastida.

No flag adopted (?)

New coat of arms adopted on September 20, 1863.

April 10, 1864-May 15, 1867

  • Maximiliano of Hapsburg, Emperor of Mexico.

  • Benito Juárez and the republican resistance fight in the north of Mexico.

Third National Flag:

Third Republic restored


May 15/July 15, 1864-Feb. 1917

  • Maximiliano defeated in Querétaro by republican troops. (May. 1867)

  • Benito Juárez reestablishes the Republican Supreme Powers (July 15, 1867).

  • Porfirio Díaz president (dictator) of the United Mexican States in 1876-1880 and 1884-1911.

  • Civil War led by Francisco I. Madero (1910).

  • Madero president (1911-1913).

  • Zapata's rebellion (1911-1919)

  • Francisco Villa's rebellion (1912-1920/1923)

  • Victoriano Huerta dictatorship 1913-1914.

  • US marine troops occupy Veracruz (1913-1914).

1823 flag
First official version:


1823 flag
Second official version:


1823 flag
Third official version:



July 15. 1914-Feb. 1917

  • Venustiano Carranza first chief of the Constitutionalist Army.

  • Carranza self-declares as Chief in charge of the Executive Power (Aug. 20, 1914).

1823 flag
Fourth official version:


1823 flag
Fifth official version:


Fourth federal republic

Feb. 5, 1917-Nowadays

  • "Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos" (Feb. 5. 1917).

  • "Cristeros War" (1924-1928)

  • Lázaro Cárdenas president (1934-1940)

  • Oil nationalization (March 1938)

  • Mexico joins United Nation (1945)

  • Olympic Games in Mexico City (Oct. 1968)

  • NAFTA (1994)

Fourth National Flag
Officially adopted on September 16, 1968.
Confirmed on Feb. 24, 1984.


Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 24, 2002

All images by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán.

by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, May 24, 2002

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