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The State of Eritrea

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by
Keywords: eritrea | africa | wreath | afars |
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[National flag and ensign] 1:2   Image by Ivan Sarajcic, 31 Aug 2007
Flag adopted 05 December 1995: Coat of Arms adopted 24 May 1993.

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Eritrea is located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south and Djibouti in the south-east with the Red Sea in the east.

The history of the country is closely tied to its strategic location on the Red Sea, across which came the initial colonisers from modern day Yemen as well as the Ottoman Turks, Portuguese, British and in the 19th century, the Italians.  Following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Italy invaded Ethiopia and occupied Eritrea.  On 01 January 1890, Eritrea officially became a colony of Italy and in 1936 it became a province of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana) along with Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland.  During World War II the British expelled the Italians following the Battle of Keren in 1941 and took over administration of the country.  After World War II, the British continued to administer the territory under a United Nations mandate until 1951, when Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia as per United Nations Resolution 390A(V).  Eritrea became Ethiopia's 14th province in 1952. 

The resistance to the annexation of Eritrea by Ethiopia resulted in a struggle for independence being waged by the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) from September 1961 until May 1991 when the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) defeated the Ethiopian forces and took control of the country.  The fall of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia in May 1991 was followed by a constitutional conference at which the EPLF negotiated an agreement with the new ransitional government of Ethiopia to allow for a referendum to be held on the issue of independence for Eritrea.  The result of the referendum held in April 1993 was almost unanimously in favour of independence which was formally granted on 24 May 1993.
Bruce Berry, 01 Sept 2011

National Flag

The national flag of Eritrea comprises two triangles of green over blue in the fly with red triangle at hoist reaching the fly, and with yellow wreath in the centre of the red triangle.
The construction sheet in Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] positions the midpoint of the wreath 1/2 hoist from hoist.  There is also a problem with overall ratio. Previously on FOTW, and on the World Flag Database site and in Album des Pavillons (1995) [pie95], the ratio is given as 2:3, while in Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] (and the corrections to the 1995 edition [pay96] as well as on the Shipmate Flag Chart (2000) [vdv00] it is given as 1:2.  Presumably the latter data would be more correct.

Pantone approximations given in Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00] are:

green 361c
red 185c
yellow 123c
blue 279c

Even if there seems to be no direct connection with green and blue flag in neighbouring countries and regions, certainly the light blue - green combination is popular in this part of the world.
Željko Heimer, 01 Aug 2001

2:3  Image by Mark Sensen, 03 Aug 2001

This flag is a combination of the Liberation Army flag (similar to the current one, only with a gold star in the hoist) and the Eritrean flag in use in 1950's. In use since 1993.
David Kendall, 01 Dec 1996

In my opinion, the  colours used by Eritrea don't have any relation with those used by neighbouring countries. Djibouti (Afars and Issa Somali) have blue to represent the Issas and green-white-blue for the Afars while Sudan uses the Pan  Arab colours and  Ethiopia uses the Pan African colours.

I believe that the colours came from the blue and green in the flag of autonomous Eritrea (designed in 1952 but from proposals dating back to 1950) with the red added for socialism.  The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) was not a wing of ELF but an opposing movement.  ELF was more moderate and supported by moderate countries while the EPLF was supported by former Eastern Bloc (Soviet Union) until Haile Mariam took power in Ethiopia and the alliances were reversed.  The EPLF chose red as their colour. On their flag a red arrow symbolised that the socialist revolution would penetrate in Eritrea (symbolised the green and blue of its flag.  The star is for the country and to guide the revolution.
Jaume Ollé, 01 Aug 2001

Concerning the branches on Eritrean flag on the : the two outer branches are evidently olive (UN -> Eritrea in 1950s -> Eritrea 1993), but what is the central branch with the forked leaves?
Firstly there was proposed a single olive branch, but the final agreement was a central olive branch with two surrounding branches. Since adoption the emblem was slightly changed, something which is not very well documented, so it may not still be considered an olive branch.
Jaume Ollé
, 02 Aug 2001

Usage Peculiarities

According to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (Traveler's Guide), extreme respect must be shown to the Eritrean national flag:

"Cultural specificities:  The national flag is subjected to a great respect. During the hoisting of the flag, car drivers must park and get out of their vehicle, whereas pedestrians must stop."
Ivan Sache, 18 Feb 2005

Symbolism of the Flag

In  Identifying Flags  Eve Devereux (1998) [dev98]writes: "Green symbolizes the agricultural and livestock economy of the country, red the bloodshed in the struggle for independence, blue the marine wealth, and yellow the mineral wealth of Eritrea".  Album des Pavillons (2000) [pay00]No mention is made of the meaning of the olive wreath with an upright branch, which I presume symbolizes peace.
Jarig Bakker, 05 Aug 2002

I have read that the olive wreath on Eritrea's flag symbolizes the UN and its role in helping with that country's independence.
Nathan Lamm, 05 Aug 2002

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