What Do The Colors And Symbols Of The Flag Of Kiribati Mean?

By Oishimaya Sen Nag on August 21 2018 in World Facts

The Flag of Kiribati features a frigatebird and a sun over the ocean.

Kiribati is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. It has 32 atolls and reef islands. Banaba, a coral island, is also a part of this country.

Brief History of Kiribati

The islands in the region were occupied as far back as 3000 BCE by Micronesians. Later, islanders from nearby islands like Fiji and Samoa also migrated to these islands. Europeans started visiting Kiribati in the 17th and 18th centuries and soon the islands here became part of the trade route across the Pacific. Traders, explorers, and missionaries from Europe and China began to settle here. Towards the end of the 19th century, the islands of Kiribati had become part of a British protectorate. In 1916, most of Kiribati’s islands were declared to be part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands crown colony of the British Empire. Some other islands were added later in 1919 and 1937. In 1975, the Ellice Islands separated from the colony and became the independent nation of Tuvalu three years later. The Gilbert Islands declared their independence on July 12, 1979, and the Republic of Kiribati was born.

History of the Flag of Kiribati

The design of the national flag of Kiribati is based on the design of the national coat of arms of the country. The latter was introduced in May 1937 and featured in the colonial era flag of the country which was a British Blue Ensign with the coat of arms in the center of the fly half of the flag. Just prior to the independence of the country, a competition was held to select the design for the country’s new national flag. However, the accepted design corresponded to the design of the colonial coat of arms. Slight modifications to the design were suggested by the College of Arms but the people of the country were not happy with the changes. The new flag was finally hoisted on July 12, 1979, in the capital city of Tarawa.

Design of Kiribati’s National Flag

The flag of the country is a horizontal bicolor. It has two horizontal stripes of red and blue. Three white colored wavy lines run horizontally on the blue stripe from the hoist-side to the fly side of the flag. A rising yellow sun is seen in the center of the red stripe rising from the top of the uppermost white wavy line. The sun has seventeen rays. A flying yellow frigatebird is featured above the sun in the red stripe.

Meaning of the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Kiribati

The blue color and white wavy bands in the flag of Kiribati represent the ocean that significantly influences the culture and economy of the island country. The three wavy bands also represent the three groups of islands that comprise Kiribati - the Line, Phoenix, and the Gilbert Islands. The frigatebird epitomizes the freedom, strength, and the command of the sea. It also represents the nation’s famous dancing patterns. The sun symbolizes new life and also the fact that Kiribati is located to the north of the Equator. Its seventeen rays stand for the 16 Gilbert islands and Banaba.

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