World Facts

What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Costa Rica Mean?

The national flag of Costa Rica was adopted on November 27, 1906.

Costa Rica adopted its national flag on November 27, 1906. The national flag of Costa Rica closely resembles that of Thailand, the only difference between the two being the organization of the stripes. The design of Costa Rica's flag has been revised twice since its adoption, first in 1964 and again in 1998, in order to match modifications made to the country's coat of arms. The flag was designed in 1948 by Pacifica Fernandez, the wife of (then) Costa Rican President José María Castro Madriz. The First Lady was inspired by the colors of the flag of the French Second Republic in the aftermath of the 1848 Revolution.

Description of the Flag of Costa Rica

The flag of Costa Rica is designed as a horizontal rectangle with length-width proportions of 5:3. The flag features five horizontal bands that are blue, red and white in color. There are two blue bands, one at the top of the flag and another at the bottom, a thicker (double-wide) red band in the center, and two white bands in between. Costa Rica's national coat of arms is placed on a white disk and featured on the hoist edge of the red band. The flag's original design included the coat of arms in the center of the flag, but it was moved toward the hoist edge when the flag was modified in 1906. The white disk, upon with the coat of arms sits, is absent on Costa Rica’s civil ensign.

Coat of Arms

The coat of arms features three green mountain peaks that rise from a green landscape. A white cloud is featured at the top of each of the three peaks, and the mountains appear to be between two large water bodies, one in the foreground and the other in the background. Sailing on the two water bodies are two merchant ships with white sails, and each carries the flag of Costa Rica. The sun is depicted as rising from the background into a blue sky that includes an arch of seven white, five-pointed stars. The coat of arms is surrounded by a golden frame made up of golden beads. The crest is comprised of an azure ribbon with the inscription “Republica De Costa Rica” (Republic of Costa Rica) written in gold. A blue ribbon featuring the motto “America Central” is placed above the coat of arms.

Symbolism of the Flag of Costa Rica

The white color represents the virtues of joy, wisdom, and peace, while the blue symbolizes perseverance and idealism. Blue is also said to represent the blue skies that are visible above the country. The red color not only signifies the generosity and warmth of the people, but also represents the bloodshed by heroes while defending the country. The seven white stars stand for each of the country's seven provinces. The three towering volcanoes represent the three mountain ranges of Costa Rica, while the two water bodies on opposite sides of the mountains represent for the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans that surround the island nation. The two merchant ships are inspired by the maritime trade that help define the country's history, and the frame made from golden beads symbolize the nation’s principal export crop, which is coffee.

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