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

By Joseph Kiprop on May 29 2018 in World Facts

The flag of Zambia.

Zambia gained independence from the United Kingdom on October 24, 1964, and immediately adopted its current flag. While colonized by Britain, and previously known as Northern Rhodesia, the protectorate used a defaced British Blue ensign as its flag. Presently, the flag of Zambia serves as both the national flag and ensign.


The flag of Zambia is rectangular in shape and has a height to width proportion of 2:3. The flag is a green field with the following features on the fly side: an orange eagle flying over a set of red, black, and orange (left to right) vertical stripes. Unlike the flags of most countries, which have emblems and devices placed in the center or the hoist side, Zambia's is unique in that they are placed on the fly side. The flag was modified in 1996, including a switch to a lighter and brighter green color, and the eagle was changed to appear more like the eagle on Zambia’s coat of arms.


The flag of Zambia was designed by Gabriel Ellison, who was head of the Graphics Arts Department in Zambia's Ministry of Information, and also responsible for designing many of Zambia’s stamps between the 1960s and 1980s. The colors used in the flag have symbolism: green represents the lush flora of Zambia; red represents the country’s struggle for freedom; black stands for the people of Zambia; and orange represents the country’s abundant natural resources, which include a wealth of minerals. The African fish eagle flying above the vertical stripes represents the ability of the people of Zambia to rise above the country's problems.

History of the Flag of Zambia

In 1953, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) merged with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and Nyasaland (now Malawi) to create the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Between 1953 and 1963, the federation had a flag, which was a modified version of the British Blue ensign. The fly side of the flag featured the federation's coat of arms on a shield. It had a rising sun taken from the coat of arms of Nyasaland, a lion from the coat of arms of Southern Rhodesia, and black and white wavy lines from the coat of arms of Northern Rhodesia. The flag was used alongside the union jack until December 31, 1963, when the federation was dissolved. In 1964 Zambia adopted its current flag, which was later modified slightly.

Zambia's Coat of Arms

Zambia’s coat of arms was adopted in 1964 upon the country’s independence, which features an eagle representing the country’s freedom and the hope for its future. Below the eagle are a pick and a hoe, which signify Zambia's economic backbone of agriculture and mining. The shield has whitewater that cascades over a black rock, representing Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, from which the country gets its name. The shield is supported by a man on the right and a woman on the left, which represent the ordinary citizens of Zambia. Below the shield is the inscription “One Zambia, One Nation,” which is the country’s motto, emphasizing the need to unite the more than 60 different ethnic groups within Zambia.

More in World Facts