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Friday, 23rd October 2015

A look at Burma's relatively new flag

The flag that currently represents the state of Burma has only been used since 2010, when it replaced a version that had been the official standard of the country from 1974. It consists of three horizontal stripes of equal proportions in yellow green and red, with a white five-pointed star overlaying these colours.


As with all national flags, each element represents something important to the country. In the case of the Burmese flag, the yellow is said to stand for solidarity; the green to signify peace, tranquillity and the lush natural landscape of the country; while the red symbolises courage and determination. The white star is then designated to show the significance of the country's union.


Burma has had many flags throughout its history, with each one being associated with the powers that ruled over the country at particular times, which have included the British and the Japanese. For a while, a peacock adorned the flag in various versions, but sadly this unusual vexilogical quirk has been confined to the past.

From 1943 to 1948, the peacock sat atop the colours of the present Burmese flag but in the intervening years, the design was entirely different. The two flags preceding the current one, which were used from 1948 to 1974 and 1974 to 2010 respectively, had origins within the Burmese resistance.

This movement had used a red flag featuring a white banner in the fight against the Japanese who occupied the country during World War II. When Burma gained independence in 1948, the resistance's ensign was used as a base for the new flag. A blue canton was added and a large white star to signify the union, with five smaller stars surrounding it symbolising the main ethnic groups found in Burma.

When the country was declared a socialist republic in 1974 another version of this flag was drawn up. It featured 14 stars around a gear and a rice plant on the blue canton, which was in turn on top of the field of red. Each star was to signify a member state in the union, while the gear and rice represented industry and agriculture.

Adoption of the current flag

The idea of changing the flag was put forward in constitutional convention in 2006, with various ideas on the exact design being discussed in the years that followed. Eventually the new version was agreed upon and included in the new constitution, which was accepted in 2008. State television announced that the new flag would be adopted just before the official changing on October 21st 2010. Old flags were lowered just before 3pm when the new ones were hoisted up the poles. Orders were sent out for all old flags to be burnt.