The official flag used in Bolivia consists of three horizontal stripes: red at the top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom. The country’s coat of arms is featured on the yellow stripe at the center of the flag. The red color represents bloodshed and the bravery of those who lost their lives in the quest for independence and sovereignty, The yellow color represents the country’s wealth and mineral deposits, while the green color represents the country’s agriculture and environment. The flag was officially adopted on October 31, 1851.
Bolivia is landlocked, but its naval ensign must be hoisted on all naval vessels patrolling the country’s lakes and rivers. The naval ensign features a blue background with the national flag and the Wiphala (explained below) side by side in the upper left corner. The two flags are enclosed by a border of nine small yellow five-pointed stars. A single larger star is included in the lower quarter of the flag. Each of the nine stars symbolize a particular department in the government, while the single large star represents the country's right to the coastline, although it lost that right in the 1884 Pacific War against Chile.
In 2009 Bolivia adopted the Wiphala as its alternative flag. The Wiphala is a 7x7 square emblem made up of 7 colors arranged diagonally left to right. The emblem represents the natives of the Andes, and the four regions of the Incan Empire. The arrangement of the colors varied depending on the region, but the color on the longest arrangement represents that particular region. The white color represents Qullasuyu, the green represents Antisuyu, yellow represents Kuntisuyu, and red represents Chinchaysuyu.
Historical Versions of the Flag
The flag of Bolivia changed several times before the current version was adopted. Between 1825 and 1826 the official flag was a tricolor of green stripes on the top and bottom, with a red stripe in the middle. Five laurels surrounded by five stars were located on the red band. Between 1826 and 1851 the country adopted the colors of the current flag, but they were arranged in a different order. The yellow stripe was placed at the top, the red stripe was in the middle, while the green band was at the bottom. The country's coat of arms was placed on the red band.