Between 1911 and 1942, Libya was under the colonial rule of Italy and during this time there was no flag in the country. However, when the country was under the administration of the British and the French, the Union Jack and the French Tricolor flags were widely used. In 1951, the regions of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, and Fezzan came together to form the Libyan kingdom or the United Kingdom of Libya. Sir Omar F. Shennib designed the first flag for the kingdom in 1951 which represented the three regions of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica. In 1969, the use of the flag was dropped following the coup and was consequently adopted again in 2011.
History of the Flag of Libya
Immediately after the coup in 1969, the country replaced its flag with a flag that closely resembled the Arab Liberation Flag with red, white, and black colors. The flag had been used un-officially in Egypt and has influenced the current flag of Egypt.
Libya joined the Federation of Arab Republics in 1972, which was an attempt to unite Libya, Syria, and Egypt to form a United Arab Nation and consequently, the flag at the time was adopted to link the country to Syria and Egypt. The flag had a golden scroll and the federation name in Arabic. The federation lasted until 1977.
In 1977, the country changed its name again to Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and a new flag was adopted. Muammar Gaddafi, the former Prime Minister and the then Secretary General of the General People's Congress devised the name Jamahiriya meaning "the state of the masses". The green flag was the world’s only flag with a single green color having no other details like a symbol or any other design. Colonel Gaddafi selected the flag to represent his philosophical ideology and thinking. The color stood for the Islam religion and the Third Universal Theory style of government as outlined by Gaddafi’s Green Book.
In 2011, after Gaddafi was ousted, the earlier flag that was in use between 1951 and 1969 was re-adopted by the National Transition Council, and France became the first nation to recognize the new government and became the first country as well to allow an employee in the Embassy of Libya raise the flag.
Description of the Flag of Libya
The flag is a horizontal triband comprised of three colors with red at the top, black in the middle, and green at the bottom. There is a 5-pointed star and a crescent in white color centered on the black stripe. The black stripe is double the size of green and red. The crescent and the 5-pointed star is white in color. The dimensions of the flag are in the proportion of 1:2.
Symbolism of the Flag of Libya
The different colors in the Libyan flag represent the different regions of the country. The red color represents the Fezzan region of the country, the black stands for Cyrenaica part of the country, while the green color represents the Tripolitania region of the country.
The crescent stands for the Islam which is the predominant religion in the country. The crescent also represents the lunar month in the Islamic calendar, which according to Islam is a reminder of the epic journey of hijra of Prophet Muhammad.
The star is a symbol of the smiling hope of the people of Libya, the object, the light and the beauty in their trust in God, and honor that illuminates the way and ends the darkness.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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