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Republic of Vanuatu, République de Vanuatu, Ripablik blong Vanuatu, formerly New Hebrides

Last modified: 2004-05-22 by
Keywords: vanuatu | republic of vanuatu | new hebrides | nouvelles-hébrides | fern | leaves | boar's tusk | francophonie | pacific community | flag of convenience |
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[Vanuatu] 3:5? or 11:18? | stripes 39+6+5+6+39
by Ivan Sache
Flag adopted 18th February 1980, coat-of-arms adopted 30th July 1980

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At the British Columbia 1994 Commonwealth Games page I read:

"crossed leaves of the namele fern (peace) are within a boar's tusk (wealth and prosperity)on a black triangular field along the hoist; red and green are the other colours"
The boar's tusk is a symbol of prosperity because (1) pigs are wealth (2) in the latter stages of getting the tusk to grow in a spiral the pig has to be hand fed, and you need status and wealth to have both the pig feeder and the food which are necessary.

Stuart Park, 4 March 1996

The boar's tusk is apparently used as a pendant by the islanders. They remove the boar's upper tusks, which causes the lower tusks to grow in a circle (from National Geographic, December 1970).

Nathan Augustine, 4 March 1996

"After the anglophone Vanuaaku Party led the country to independence as Vanuatu in 1980, the colours of the party flag - red, green, black and yellow - were adopted as the basis for the design of a new national flag. The final design was chosen a few months before independence by a parliamentary committee from designs submitted by local artists."
Symbolism of the colours
"The yellow symbolizes sunshine [peace and enlightment brought by Christianism, fide Talocci]; the green the richness of the islands [all the islands of the archipelago, fide Talocci]. The red is symbolic of blood [blood of sacrified boars, power of traditions, and mens' blood, fide Talocci], and the black is for the Melanesian people [not explained by Talocci]. The Prime Minister requested the inclusion of yellow and black fimbriations to give more prominence to the colour representing the people. The yellow Y-shape denotes the pattern of the islands in the Pacific Ocean." Approximate specifications are (Album des Pavillons 1990):
"A boar's tusk - the symbol of prosperity worn as a pendant on the islands - crossed by two leaves of the local fern "namele". The leaves are a token of peace, and their 39 fronds represent the 39 members of Vanuatu's legislative assembly." [This description is botanically incorrect, ferns do not have leaves but fronds, therefore it should be: "the fronds are a token of peace, and their 39 divisions represent the 39 members of Vanuatu's legislative assembly."]
Dorling Kindersley 1997 says 11:18, and Album des Pavillons 1990 3:5, that is 0.6111.... vs. 0.6.
Sources: Dorling Kindersley 1997 and Talocci 1993.

Ivan Sache, 16 July 1999

The stripes of the Vanuatu flag are wrong. The official sizes of the widths in the fly are red = 39, black = 6, yellow = 5, black = 6, green = 39. The yellow stripe is narrower than the black. [For comparison, Ivan Sache's image above has proportions 41.3 : 4 : 4.3 : 4 : 41.3]

Ralf Stelter, 17 July 1999

Symbolism of the colours:

Source: Talocci 1994.

Marcus Wendel, 5 September 1999

The image of the Vanuatu flag in Album des Pavillons 2000 shows the crosspoint of the 'Y' clearly offset towards the hoist, however the dimensions to its left and right say '35:35', as if it were centred. The image in FOTW shows it nearer but still quite not exactly on the middle of the flag (172:360 = 0.478). Are there any official (or usual) specifications for the Vanuatu flag?

Santiago Dotor, 9 February 2001

Flag of Convenience

Alvin Helms asked, "Why would the flag of Vanuatu (a Pacific island chain) be flying at Port Canaveral (a United States city, on the Atlantic ocean)?" Vanuatu is one of the top ten flags of convenience if I remember correctly. I got this information from one of Britain's big flagmakers who regularly has to make Vanuatu flags for ships, far more than you would expect for one of the world's smallest countries.

Graham Bartram, 13 December 1999

Mistaken Variant

[Mistaken Variant (Vanuatu)]
by Ivan Sache

The goofed flag shown on the Flags of Paradise 1996 chart, with a two-branch yellow Y (the two disconnected branches being separated by a large black stripe connected to the black triangle).

Ivan Sache, 16 July 1999

Unidentified Flags

Browsing in Internet I found this image with an unidentified flag left of the national flag.

Falko Schmidt, 10 November 2001

That photograph appears in this page [broken link] about the celebration of Vanuatu's independence day in August 2000, where (among other events) the "Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony" is described (somewhat funnily). The pictures illustrating this ceremony include the above image and this one but no mention about flags. The ceremony was attended by "VMF [Vanuatu Mobile Force, sort of Vanuatu army], the Police, the Royal Australian Navy Band, the Newcastle crew, the French Army contingent, the Scouts, and the Girl Guides" so some of these flags might belong to those groups.

Santiago Dotor, 10 November 2001

A Vanuatu flag book

I recently received Lupant 1991, a book on Vanuatu flags. This book shows many flags of Vanuatu, from the colonial era, the time of independence and the present, and includes provincial flags. The book also shows the flag of Tanna, but according to this information, it is the same (or very similar, because the shade of blue is lighter) as the flag of the Vemerana Federation - a blue background with a green star in the center. But this is very strange: I saw the originally manufactured flag of Tanna on TV and around the star was a yellow circle (I posted the image some time ago). I think that the flag attribued to Tanna is only a proposal, a previous flag, or a mistake, because I'm sure that at the time of independence the flags (I know three patterns) hoisted included a yellow circle.

Jaume Ollé, 16 January 1997