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by Željko Heimer
All the sources I consulted quickly give the ratio as 6:7 or 6:7~. Sometimes 2:3 flags are seen, but I would guess these are a product of "ignorance" or international standardisation. Is the 6:7 proscribed in some legislation? Also is there any regulation to the size of the disk?
Željko Heimer, 4 July 2002
As far as I am aware (and aside from the Constitutional references given on links below) there has been no legislation since the original law which established the flag. 'Actes du Government de la Republique du Niger No, 59-1' of 23 November 1959 (published in 'Journal Officiel de la Republique du Niger No. 1' of 1 January 1960 - of which I have a copy) gives neither a ratio for the flag, nor a size for the disk.
Although often illustrated in 6:7 there is no apparent official reason why this should be so, and it could be a case of vexilollogists copying each other? It is worth remarking that the official Government website of the Niger shows the flag at 2:3.
Christopher Southworth, 1 February 2003
I believe Christopher has formulated an interesting hypothesis. I can only add that Pedersen 1970 shows the flag of Niger with proportions 7:8 and states "adopted 1959".
Santiago Dotor, 5 February 2003
The flag of Niger is orange over white over green, with an orange disc on the central white stripe, symbolizing the sun. The proportions for the flag are 2:3 although other variants are apparently to be seen. The orange stands the Sahara desert, which borders Niger to the north. Green stands for the grassy plains of the south and west and for the River Niger which sustains them. It also stands for fraternity and hope. White generally symbolizes purity and hope. In the Nigerois flag it additionally stands for the savannah region of the country.
Similar symbolism appears in the flag of the neighbouring Ivory Coast, which flies a flag of orange-white-green vertical stripes. Both Niger and Ivory Coast were French possessions and were originally closely linked economically.
Stuart Notholt, 4 June 1996
According to the little book Flags by Carol Shaw (probably [shw94], ed.), the flag of Niger, like those of several other former French colonies, is modeled on the French tricolor (even though the stripes are horizontal and not vertical).
Bruce Tindall, 4 June 1996
located by Ivan Sache
According to Pascal Vagnat & Jos Poels' "Constitutions - What they tell us about national flags and coat of arms", the Constitution of the Third Republic of Niger, adopted on 22 May 1996, says:
Title I: The State and Sovereignty
The national emblem is a tricolor flag composed of three (3) equal rectangular horizontal bands, which, from top to bottom, are orange, white and green. An orange disc shall be in the centre of the middle band. [...] The motto of the Republic is "Fraternity - Work - Progress". The State seal, whose diameter shall be forty millimeters, shall be composed of a coat of arms containing a sun bordered on the right by a spear bearing two Tuareg swords radiating upward from its bottom, and at the left by three stalks of grain, one being upright and two radiating from its bottom, accompanied at its point by the head of a zebu, all in gold. The following inscription shall be in relief:
- at the top: "Republic of Niger"
- at the bottom: "Fraternity - Work - Progress".
The [ceremonial] arms of the Republic are composed of Sinople coat of arms with a blazing sun of gold, bordered at the right by a spear bearing two Tuareg swords radiating upward from its bottom, and, at left, by three stalks of grain, one being upright and two radiating from its bottom, accompanied at its point by the head of a zebu, all in gold. The coat of arms lies against a trophy of four flags of the Republic of Niger. The inscription "Republic of Niger" is placed below.
The wording of Article 1 is nearly identical to that in the former Constitution of January 1993. A new Constitution was adopted on 21 July 1999 of which no details were known at the time of writing.
The next release of PV & JP's book will probably include details of the 1999 Constitution, which is now available on the website of the Niger government. A word file giving the full text (in French) of the Constitution can be downloaded at www.niger-gouv.org/docs/textes/Constitution.doc. The new Constitution was promulgated by Decree #99-320/PCRN on 9 August 1999. Article 1 is identical to that attached above, and Article 2 is also related to the national symbols.
The emblems of the Republic, as defined by Article 1, shall be used only by public authorities. Every illegal use for private purpose, every desecration of those symbols shall be punished by law.
Therefore, a strict interpretation of Article 2 would mean that citizens of Niger are not allowed to use the national flag, which has a status of State flag only.
The national emblem is shown on several pages of the Government's website and described on www.niger-gouv.org/armoiries.htm. I am attaching the emblem from the website, and you'll notice that the shield of arms does not match the description in the Constitution: it is Gold with the charges Sable (black), whereas it should be Sinople (green) with charges Gold. Smith (1975) and DK Pocket Book show the 'correct' version, so that I can think about three hypotheses:
- The official website shows a wrong national emblem (!)
- The national emblem was changed but the official website shows an obsolete version of the Constitution (!)
- The national emblem was changed but the relevant article in the Constitution was not updated (!)
Stuart Notholt noted above that similar symbolism appears in the flag of the neighbouring Ivory Coast, which flies a flag of orange-white-green vertical stripes. Both Niger and Ivory Coast were French possessions and were originally closely linked economically.
According to DK Pocket Book, Niger was in 1958 in alliance with Ivory Coast, Chad and Dahomey (now Benin) to form a Sahel-Benin Union which rapidly vanished. The same source says that on the arms the weapons represent military achievement, the buffalo's head (zebu in the Constitution!) pastoralism and the maize (millet in the Constitution!) cobs agriculture.
I have not found anything explaining the unusual 6:7 proportion of the national flag. DK Pocket book retained 2:3 proportion only. On the national emblem, the four flags look more 2:3 than 6:7 but this does not consitute an evidence.
Ivan Sache, 1 November 2002
Force Aerienne du Niger was formed in 1961 and adopted a Netherlands-like roundel (change red to green and blue to orange and leave the central orange
dot) until 1980 (Cochrane & Elliott, 1998).
Dov Gutterman, 21 June 2004
Equal to the national flag, but all on a disk. Adopted in 1980 (Cochrane & Elliott, 1998).
Željko Heimer, 4 July 2002