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What Do the Colors in National Flags Represent?
The use of flags derives from the needs of the military to distinguish between the enemy and allies. This was originally achieved through the use of military standards depicting a symbol or, in the case of Ancient Rome, a colored cloth tied to the end of each spear. This cloth then developed into a colored cloth tied to the military standard and thus into the modern flag.
Several countries, such as Germany, use their national colors on their flag, often in a tricolor or three stripes pattern. Other nations, such as France and Italy, have used the colors of a particular state within that nation as their colors. The French flag, for example, uses blue and red, the colors of Paris, divided by a strip of white. Italy uses the state colors of Milan, red and white, alongside green, the color of the civic guard.
Some countries, such as Great Britain and France, represent their nation's history in the colors of their flag. The British flag, for example, uses shades of red, white and blue that are found in the flag's constituent symbols: the cross of St. George, the cross of St. Andrew and the cross of St. Patrick. The French flag, on the other hand, represents the three factions active during the French revolution.
The colors on flags are sometimes identified with social or political ideologies, such as the red on the flags of China, Vietnam and the former U.S.S.R. representing communism or socialism. Guyana, on the other hand, uses red to depict the "zeal and dynamic nature" of its people.
The definitive meanings of the flags of older nations, and even some newer nations, are lost in time and even where there are clear records of what the colors on the flags represent, there can be dual meanings or different ideas for different groups. It is, therefore, impossible to state with absolute certainty that the colors represented a certain concept or objective for all people in all times. Each meaning must be weighed individually