World Facts

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

The flag of Serbia is a horizontal tricolor of red, blue, and white.

The Republic of Serbia is uniquely located near the boundary of Southern Europe and Central Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula and Pannonian Basin, respectively. The country includes two autonomous provinces united by the national flag of Serbia. Serbia’s flag is a horizontal tricolor made up of the Pan-Slavic colors: red (top), blue (middle), and white (bottom). Pan-Slavic tricolors were adopted by Slavic speaking nations in the 19th century. Since the 19th century, various designs and variations of the flag have been adopted, the recent being adopted in November 2010. Serbia’s 2006 Constitution provides rules regarding the national flag protocol.

History of Serbia’s Flag

The history of Serbia’s flag dates back to the revolt against the Ottoman rule in 1804, when delegates from Serbia sought help from Russia. Russia offered help on the condition that Serbia’s delegation would participate in a parade during the revolt. At the time, Serbia did not have a flag to identify the country and its army during the parade, but adopted a Russian flag turned upside down. The Ottoman Sultan recognized the Serbian flag officially in 1835. After gaining independence in 1878, the country established a state flag consisting of the red-blue-white tricolor with the Serbian coat of arms.

After the First World War, Serbia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and thus had no official flag. It adopted the Yugoslavian flag, which was a blue-white-red tricolor. In 1947, after the Second World War, the Federation of Serbia adopted a red-blue-white tricolor flag with a yellow-bordered red communist star in the middle. In 1992, a new flag without the star was adopted after Yugoslavia became an independent state. In 2006, after Montenegro seceded from the federation, Serbia adopted a new flag that was used until 2009, when new flag laws regulating the use of state emblems were introduced. A new flag bearing a visual redesign of the coat of arms was adopted in 2010 as the state flag.

Meaning and Symbolism of the Flag of Serbia

The Serbian flag features horizontal stripes of equal thickness in the traditional Pan-Slavic tricolors: red (top), blue (middle), and white (bottom). These Pan-Slavic colors represent the revolutionary ideas of sovereignty. Red signifies the blood shed during the struggle for freedom, blue denotes the clear sky, and white signifies dazzling bright light. Serbia's coat of arms includes a principal shield and a smaller red shield, and is placed toward the hoist side of the flag. The main field of the coat of arms represents the Serbian state. It also displays a two-headed white eagle and fleur-de-lis next to each talon, which are considered historic dynastic symbols. The smaller red shield on the eagle represents the nation of Serbia and is divided into four equal quarters by a white cross, with a Cyrillic ‘C’ in each corner. The four Cyrillic C's on the shield mean Samo Sloga Serbina Spasava ("Only Unity will Save the Serbs"). A royal crown is featured above the head of the eagle, which was inspired by the crown of the stars of Serbia.

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