Fun With Flags #7 - Oddly Shaped Flags (Nepal, Vatican City, Switzerland And More!)

Hey everyone, and welcome to Fun with Flags. Today we're going to talk about weirdly shaped flags, meaning flags which aren't rectangular. Now first we need to understand why the majority flags are rectangular. Some people say it's because of European colonialism. Ships needed to be identified at sea, and the rectangular shape is ideal for catching the wind, at least better than any other shape. So the idea of a flag representing the country at sea then evolved to the concept of it representing the country at all times, replacing the square or triangular shaped flags used until then. Another reason could be the fact that rectangular flags are easier to produce than say, a triangular shape. Some regions in the world had a tradition of using these triangular flags, especially in Asia. They usually represented a certain monarch, so they weren't for public use and didn't really require easy manufacturing. A good example of this is the flag of the King dynasty in China, which up to 1889 used a triangular flag with the exception of its naval fleets. Another example is the Nishan Sahib, a Sikh flag which has always been triangular, confirming the tendency of Asian territories using these types of flags. Nepal also followed this tradition, and today it's one of the only three sovereign territories without a rectangle flag, and it's the only one which still flies a triangular shaped one. So let's take a look at Nepal's flag, starting with the colors. It's Crimson red is the color of the rhododendron, Nepal's national flower, and the blue border represents peace and the symbols the moon and the sun. Until 1962, these elements had human faces inside them, but they were since removed in an attempt to modernize the flag. The Crescent moon represents the royal house and the sun represents the Rana family, the ruling dynasty of Nepal until 1951. The other two sovereign territories with non rectangle flags, or Switzerland and the Vatican City which use square flags. So let's take a look at these two, starting with Vatican City. The Vatican City flag was adopted in 1929 when Pope Pius the 11th signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy, creating a new independent state governed by the Holy See. The Vatican flag is modeled from the flag of the earlier popal states. In fact, it's essentially identical. The flag has two colors, yellow and white. The white is said to represent the White Mountains of Lebanon and the biblical city of Maya. Interestingly, the colors most commonly used by the Popo states were yellow and red, the colors of the Roman Empire. But in 18 O 8 Pius the 7th replaced the red with white in order to distinguish the Vatican's guards from the troops that had been incorporated in Napoleon's army. The flag used by the early purple states from 754 to 18 O3 was in fact a red and yellow square, and even today the Vatican coat of arms has a red background. This coat of arms is present on the flag, but reversed and without the red sitting in the center of the white half of the flag. It depicts the papal tiara and the two keys connected by a red cord, which represent the keys of heaven given by Jesus to Saint Peter. The gold represents spiritual power, while the silver key represents the worldly power. Next we have Switzerland, which also uses a square flag, an interesting similarity to the Vatican since the Pope's guards are usually known as Swiss Guards. The Swiss flag consists of a white cross on a field of red. It is officially square, however civil entities, non governmental bodies and ships use a rectangular variety. The flag was adopted in 1889, but its history goes way back. The white cross on red background is said to have been used since the 12th century as a mark of identification for the combined troops of the Old Swiss Confederacy. Interestingly, this first flag was also triangular. The flag is said to be a generalization of the Canton of Schwiz coat of arms, one of Switzerland's cantons, which apparently played a leading role in the early days of the region. Now, despite the fact that there are only three independent regions which use non rectangular flags, there are a lot of local exceptions to the rectangular rule. For instance, the flag of the American state of Ohio is the only one which is in rectangular, presenting a strange shape which sort of looks like a triangle with its tip folded inwards. The flag city of Tampa in Florida also presents a very strange shape which I honestly don't even know how to describe. We also have other cases in Europe. The flag of Zamora in Spain is simply a group of red and green stripes, and the flag of Venice in Italy consists of a square flag also with stripes on its right side. Going back to the past, some royal families in Europe also use triangular standards to represent their households. Interestingly, a lot of military and maritime flags of these European nations use a rectangular flag, but with a triangular point, like Norway, Spain or Sweden. And we also have a variety of flags which, despite being rectangular, officially have different proportions than most, like the Belgian flag, the flag of Qatar, Papua New Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo. So those are a few of the oddly shaped flags in the world. The vast majority of flags are in fact rectangular and with the same proportions, but it isn't hard to find a lot of flags which still escape this rule. Thanks so much for watching. Make sure to comment on what flags you want me to do a video on Next and subscribe to catch future videos. Once again, thanks for watching and I'll see you next time on more fun with flags.

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