What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Azerbaijan Mean?

By Joseph Kiprop on May 20 2018 in World Facts

The flag of Azerbaijan.
The flag of Azerbaijan.

The Republic of Azerbaijan first adopted its national flag and ensign on November 9, 1918. Azerbaijan used the flag until 1920, when the country surrendered to Bolshevik forces and consequently became part of the Soviet Union. The flag was, however, re-adopted on February 5, 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The flag, which is referred to as "The Tricolor Flag," was designed by Ali bey Huseynzade.

The Flag’s Design

The national flag of Azerbaijan has four colors: sky blue, red, green, and white. The Azerbaijani flag is rectangular and consists of three equal horizontal bands: sky blue (top), red (middle), and green (bottom). There is also a crescent and a star with eight points, both in white, featured at the center of the red stripe. The height to length proportions of the flag are 1:2. According to a presidential decree “On the National Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” given on the day the flag was re-adopted, each band should be one-third of the flag’s total height. Additionally, the crescent and star should be in a box with a 3:4 ratio, and the diameters of the outer and inner curves of the crescent intersect with that of the star, which is one-sixth of the flag’s height.

Symbols of the Flag

The sky blue color in the flag represents Turkic multinationalism. Red symbolizes the development of democracy in the nation and the creation of a modern state. Green stands for the relations of Azerbaijan to the Muslim world. Additionally, the country’s national anthem reinforces the color green as a representation of Islam and red as a symbol of the nation's culture and progress. The star and crescent represent Islam, although some historians disagree with this notion, especially in regards to the star’s eight points. Fatali Khan Khoyski claimed the points represent every letter on the country’s name (using an Arabic spelling), while others believe they represent Azerbaijan’s eight Turkic groups, including Ottomans, Tatars, and Azeris.

History of Azerbaijani Flags

When Azerbaijan gained independence, it adopted a national flag. However, this flag was replaced after the Russian army invaded the country on April 28, 1920. Azerbaijan was renamed the Azerbaijan SSR, and became part of the Soviet Union, uniting with Georgia and Armenia to form the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (TSFSR). This republic adopted a rectangular red flag which had a sickle and hammer inside a star and the initials ЗСФСР. When the TSFSR broke up in 1936, Azerbaijan SSR took eight different flags, the final one being issued in 1952. The current flag came into use in the late 1980s, during an independence demonstration. In 2009, the Azerbaijani government declared November 9 as National Flag Day, which was intended to be a day to respect the flag together with its history and symbolism.

Usage and Display

The Azerbaijani flag serves as the country’s national flag and ensign. The flag is used on public holidays and during the administration of military oaths. Military units and vessels found in foreign territory also display the flag. By law, the flag flies on government and other public buildings. Official vehicles of executives, such as Azerbaijan's president, prime minister, and Speaker of the National Assembly, together with the Prosecutor of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, also fly the national flag. Military funerals, as well as those of some civil servants especially presidents, always use the national flag.

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