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Canary Islands (Spain)

Canarias, Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias

Last modified: 2010-03-20 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: spain | canary islands | islas canarias | canarias | dogs: two (black) | historical | coat of arms | stars: 7 (white) | crown | mountain: teide |
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[Canary Islands (Spain), official flag] 2:3
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 11 Feb 2006

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Color specifications for flags of the Canary Islands have been provided by the Canary Islands government:

      Black – Pantone Black
Silver/Grey – Pantone 7544
  Red/Gules – Pantone 485
     Maroon – Pantone 722 (for dogs)
Yellow/Gold – Pantone 7406
 Blue/Azure – Pantone 3005

Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 11 Feb 2006

I saw various flags of the Canary Islands all over Tenerife. But on each of them the supporting dogs were light brown (FIAV code M-- ; i.e. brighter than M-). You could clearly recognize the dogs round drop ears on both sides. (Sources and Credits)

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 09 May 2007

According to the newspaper La Opinion de Tenerife #1846, dated 25 October 2004, the parliamentary commission for the reform of the Autonomy Status proposed that the collars are removed from the dogs supporting the coat of arms of the Canary Islands:

The commission claims that the collar represents submission of the dogs, which are free animals when the collars are removed. The discussion seems to have started with the proposal of suppressing the dogs (from the coat of arms), which was not supported. The only party which did not support the removal of the collars is the Partido Popular.

The current description of the coat of arms is found in Article 6 of the Autonomy Statute and reads as follows:

Canarias tiene escudo propio, cuya descripción es la siguiente: en campo de azur trae siete islas de planta bien ordenadas, dos, dos, dos y una, esta última en punta. Cuyo timbre una corona real de oro, surmontada de una cinta de plata con el lema ´Océano´ de sable y como soportes dos canes en su color encorallados.
My translation:

Canary Islands have their own coat of arms, whose description is the following: on a field azure are seven islands argent placed two, two, two and one, the latter in point. The shield is surmounted by a royal crown or, surmounted by a scroll argent with the motto "Oceano" sable, and supported by two dogs proper with collars.

Therefore, the last words of the description will be amended. Cave canem!

Source: La Opinion de Tenerife, #1846, 25 Oct 2004

Ivan Sache, 26 Oct 2004

The translation is correct, but since the original is a Spanish blazon, the translation could be made in heraldic terms as well:

Azure seven islands 2,2,2,1 Argent. Crest: a royal crown Or* surmounted by a ribbon Argent, motto 'OCEANO' Sable. Supporters: two dogs [rampant] proper collared [Argent].
* Actually always emblazoned as proper, i.e. in its "true" colours: [Reference]

Santiago Dotor, 27 Oct 2004

The current flag was born on 7 September 1961, on the eve of the fiesta of Virgin Mary of Pino, the patron of Gran Canaria. A family of activists, María del Carmen Sarmiento, and their sons Arturo und Jesús made some 3000 flags of paper ribbons and gave them to the people on the fiesta in the municipality of Teror on the next day, the 8th of September 1961. Spontaneously, the people of Teror recognized these colours as the proper Canarian ones.

Probably without having any idea, the creators of this white-blue-yellow flag were continuing the idea of the Ateneo flag, but replacing the stars with the united colours of the both former maritime register flags (white and blue for Santa Cruz de Tenerife and blue and yellow for Las Palmas de Gran Canarias) in their geographical order, i.e. Sta. Cruz as the western province on the left and Las Palmas as the eastern province on the right.

However neither the ratio between stripes nor the shade of blue colour are known exactly. Probably the blue stripe was a little bit broader.

Flag 1982-2005

On 10 August 1982, the islands gained the autonomy. Since then the islands used a vertical white-blue-yellow flag with stripes of equal width. There existed versions with and without coat of arms within the blue stripe. The shade of blue is said to be navy blue, but according to own observations for me it seemed to be a dark royal blue.

Flag Since 2005

According to José Manuel Erbez, the government of Canaries published a manual, describing all symbols of the government in terms of corporate identity. Among these there was also a description of flag and coat of arms.

This manual was finished on 21 December 2004 and as decree 184/2004 published on 7 January 2005 in BOC, it was altered by order of 24 November 2005 published on 2 December 2005 in BOC.

According to José Manuel Erbez, the blue is RAL 5015 or RGB (7/104/160) with brightness 84 and matte (German: Sättigung) 517. (Source: Banderas de Canarias website, image by José Manuel Erbez)

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 31 Mar 2008

Two pages on the symbolism of the Canary Islands at the regional goverment's website: flag, arms.

Santiago Dotor, 02 Jun 2003

It's curious that the flag shown in this official site has little to do with the actual model used by the Government of the Canary Islands, which has a much darker shade of blue. Simply compare that image with the waving flag shown in the site's main page.

It seems that they're trying to show something half way between the navy blue of the official flag and the sky blue of the flag used by the independentists. Maybe they don't want to annoy anyone, since there are people in the ranks of the ruling party who favour the sky blue flag with seven green stars.

José Manuel Erbez, 03 Jun 2003

Civil Flag

[Canary Islands (Spain), civil flag] 2:3
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 11 Feb 2006

1980s Versions

Official Flag
     [1980s version, Canary Islands (Spain)] 2:3
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán and Klaus-Michael Schneider, 09 May 2007
Civil Flag
     [1980s version, civil flag, Canary Islands (Spain)] 2:3
image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 09 May 2007

According to [ebz07] p.20, the flags with a full royal blue shade in the middle stripe had been used from 1980 to 2005, with and without CoA. This is however contradicted by another statement in [ebz07] p.29., according to which a “modern” CoA was in use since 1982 and had been changed in 1993 and was finally replaced by the current model in 2005. The CoA model 1982 had other dogs, which were however also very dark brown ones with black lines on their fur (we call that pattern of dog fur “gestromt” in German.) These might appear as black from a great distance.

I have no idea whether the flag with CoA changed in 1993. I can however aver that the 1985 flag model is still used today by several yuntamientos, e.g. Puerto de la Cruz, and is even hoisted in front of the building of Consejerias II (Canarian Government services) in C/ Manuel Guimerá in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. My statement from 2007 that the new flag would have a “rebel blue” shade was erroneous: it is, according to [ebz07] p.28, Pantone 3005 = RAL 5015. The rebel blue is even lighter and has a little touch of green.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 09 May 2007 and 21 Dec 2009

Vertical Version

[Canary Islands (Spain)]

I spotted the vertical flag of the Canary Islands in the port area of Los Christianos, La Gomera Island, on 11 February 2010, hoisted from a staff with horizontal bar. The ratio is 3:1. The colours are those of the 1980s version.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2010

image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 10 Mar 2010

Coat of Arms

[Canary Islands (Spain)]
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 11 Feb 2006

Unofficial Horizontally-Divided Flag Variant

[Unofficial Horizontally-Divided Flag Variant (Canary Islands, Spain)]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 25 Jan 2009

A TV documentary showed images of the Manchablanca pilgrimage, which is the most popular religious festival held in the island of Lanzarote, part of the archipelago of theCanary Islands.

There were a lot of flags hanging vertically or horizontally, all with the Canarian colours (white-blue-yellow). However, all of these flags were not vertically divided as the usual Canarian flags, but horizontally divided. There was only one (big) Canarian flag vertically divided. However, the charge in the middle of the flag was not the arms but a device which looked like the stars of the Canary National Congress.

Ivan Sache, 21 Apr 2008

According to Canarian vexillologist José Manuel Erbez, this is a common (absolutely unofficial) variant of the Canarian flag. One of the main reasons being that it is easy to purchase white-blue-yellow bunting by the meter at local shops.

Santiago Dotor, 24 Apr 2008

This makes absolute sense, and I regret I have not been able to find pictures of Manchablanca online. On the TV footage, there were dozens (really, maybe up to hundred flags) of these flags vertically hanging on very long ropes tied between the bell tower of the church and the soil. These flags could have been easily made by cutting the bunting mentioned by José in short pieces. Conclusion: If you need a popular, cheap flag, have it horizontally divided instead of vertically :-)

Ivan Sache, 26 Apr 2008

Towards a New Flag?

The Partido de Independenties de Lanzarote (PIL) proposes to modify the Autonomy Statutes of the islands and to adopt a new flag. This new flag would be the flag with the seven green stars used by the independentist groups since 1964. It must be the flag we show as the MPAIAC/ CNC flag.

Celso Betancor, the president of the PIL, said that the flag proposal was supported by all political parties, including the Partido Popular (PP). The PIL announced at the end of last April that he would submit a law proposal to be discussed during the next session of the Canay Parliament in June, so that the Carta Magna of the Canary islands shall be modified, including the adoption of the new flag.

Source: Diaro de Avisos website

Ivan Sache, 28 May 2004

This news struck me as particularly odd – not the flag change proposal, but the PP's support. I have exchanged a couple of e-mails with Canary vexillologist José Manuel Erbez and he has confirmed that only marginal groups (centred in the party youth) of the regionally governing Coalición Canaria plus possibly somebody in the Socialist Party (PSOE) would support such a change. Only the very small parties support it openly, as can be read here (in Spanish).

Santiago Dotor, 01 Jun 2004

Here is the flag of the Movement for Autonomy for Gran Canaria . As far as I understand, this movement wants autonomous regional status for the Island of Gran Canaria, as Comunidad Autonoma de Gran Canaria. Further proposals for the new proposed entity can be seen here.

Valentin Poposki, 03 Jul 2009

Historical Proposals: 20th Century

José Manuel Erbez wrote me, "In my opinion, the best summary of the history of the Canary flag and my main source of information for my webpage and my article in Flag Report is Hernández Bravo de Laguna 1994".

Santiago Dotor, 17 Dec 1999

For a long time the Canary Islands, considered as a unit, had no own symbol. The journalist José Betancor Cabrera published 1904 in Las Palmas d. G. C. a booklet of poems, entitled Allá (There) using the pseudonym "Ángel Guerra" (Angel of War). Within one poem he describes a flag of white and celestial-blue, which probably never existed. Without any further details this flag probably can't be reconstructed. (Source: Banderas de Canarias website, image by José Manuel Erbez)

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 31 Mar 2008

Ateneo proposal

['Ateneo' proposal (Canary Islands, Spain)]
image by Jaume Ollé

The Canary Islands were originally inhabited by a branch of the Berber people (the Guanches) which were exterminated. The islands were occupied by Catalans near 1300 and by Castile in the 15th century. The first modern flag for the island was hoisted in the early 20th century at the home of a cultural society called Ateneo (Atheneum).

Jaume Ollé, 13 Dec 1996

Probably in 1907 too, the flag of the Ateneo, the first council for the islands, located in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, was hoisted in front of the building of the council. It was a blue flag with seven white 5-point stars in geographical order. The flag was abolished very soon, to avoid further difficulties due to the permanent crisis in islands politics.

The flag had however a revival as the party flag of the Canarian National Party (PNC) and later as flag of the Canarian Society, established 1924 in Cuba. The PNC a few years ago joined the National Federation of the Canaries (FNC) and kept this flag.

The Ateneo-flag is said to be inspired by American prototypes, especially Venezuela, where many Canarian emigrants lived and where a sort of Canarian identity was kept. (Source: Banderas de Canarias website, image by José Manuel Erbez)

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 31 Mar 2008

Nicolás Estévanez y Murphy Proposal

[Poet Estevanez's proposal (Canary Islands, Spain)]
image by Jaume Ollé

In 1907 another flag was proposed (very similar to the current Saint Lucia flag but with a red background), the triangle (mountain) blue, and the upper part white (snow). The flag symbolised Mount Teide on Tenerife island and wasn't accepted by the other large island (Grand Canary).

Jaume Ollé, 13 Dec 1996

The red flag containing a snowcapped blue mount Teide was also part of a poem, this one probably written in 1893 by the federal and republican politician Nicolás Estévanez y Murphy in which he declares his point of view about the political role of the islands. His poem was published in 1907. (Source: Banderas de Canarias website, image by José Manuel Erbez)

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 31 Mar 2008

Manuel Martín González Proposal

[Manuel Martín González Proposal (Canary Islands, Spain)]
image by José Manuel Erbez, 31 Mar 2008

The painter Manuel Martín González published 1931 a similar flag on the front page of Tierra Canaria. It was a blue flag with seven white 5-point stars, six of them ordered as a circle around the seventh star representing Tenerife island. (Source: Banderas de Canarias website, image by José Manuel Erbez)

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 31 Mar 2008