World Facts

What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of South Africa Mean?

The national flag of South Africa was adopted on April 27, 1994.

South Africa

South Africa, formally the Republic of South Africa, is a sovereign nation in the southernmost part of Africa. Covering an area of 1,221,037 square kilometers, it is the largest country in Southern Africa by size and the 25th largest nation in the world. It has a population of approximately 56 million people, making it the 24th most populous country. South Africa is a highly diverse country with many ethnic groups, religions, and cultures, as well as 11 official languages. The major European groups present in the country include the Dutch (Afrikaners) and British. South Africa has the following capital cities: Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial) and Cape Town (legislative). However, Johannesburg is considered South Africa's most significant city. The president serves as the country's head of state.

History of the South African Flag

The South African flag was adopted on April 27, 1994. It replaced the previous flag that had been in use since 1928, and was therefore introduced to mark the nation's newly acquired democracy after the end of apartheid. The African National Congress earned considerable respect after their victory, and the idea of adopting a new flag gained momentum after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990. The new flag was intended to represent the entire population regardless of tribe, race or religion. In contrast to many other modern flags, the South African flag tries to avoid symbolic associations or specifications. The current national flag was designed by Frederick Brownell and has since embraced by the entire population as a symbol of national unity.

Meaning of the Flag’s Colors and Symbols

The flag has a width to length ratio of 2:3. It's design features red and blue horizontal stripes of equal measure at the top and bottom of the flag, respectively. It also has two white lines and a green horizontal bar at the center. The green portion extends to the hoist, forming a flat Y plate, with black and gold triangular parts at the crane. At the time it was adopted, the South African flag was the only one in the world to include six colors. The red, white and blue signify the tone of the Boers. Black represents the people of South Africa, green signifies the productiveness of the land, and gold symbolizes the mineral abundance.

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