Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Flag Day!

Guess what I'm doing to celebrate this glorious day?  Yep, I'm going to deliver to you my top ten favorite country flags in existence.  You know, in honor of flags.

(Note: maybe it would make more sense to do state flags, since it is USA's Flag Day.  But I choose to honor all flags today, and so I'm going to include the entire world in the proceedings.  Also, country flags are more interesting.  And Minnesota's flag is terrible, so why bother?)

The criteria is as follows: the flag has to be the official flag of a country (not including states or small overseas territories, for example) and it has to stand out in some way.  May just be an iconic symbol, have a pleasing set of colors, or just look cool... there's actually no formula for this thing.  I just admire the flags, and pick my favorites. 

First, here are some honorable mentions, which didn't make the cut for various reasons.  And those reasons are: being a boring flag despite having a cool set of colors, not representing an actual country, and being so awesome that it's a shame that the empire it represented went kaput 100+ years ago.

(For the record, in order... Germany, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Isle of Man, and the Benin Empire.  Also a fan of Turkey, Qatar, Georgia, and Bhutan--but they are not pictured here because... well, come on.  That's too many flags.)

Now to the top ten.

10. Mozambique

I almost disqualified this one--for as great as it is, I just happened to stumble upon an older flag for the country that happens to be BETTER.  Check it out.

Isn't that sexy?  Not only does the descending rays look much cooler than the triangle-over-stripes design, but it also features a cogwheel... albeit one that is much less badass than another cogwheel we'll come in contact with.  Anyway, if this flag was still around, you might be looking at a top 5 ranking.  The current flag, however... can only muster a #10 spot... and that's after I couldn't decide on anything else to place here.  So the actual flag--little unimpressive. 

But it features a rifle, a hoe, and a book overlapped with each other.  You probably couldn't think of three more diametrically opposed objects--and yet, here they are, together at last. 

9. Marshall Islands

I'm a big fan of the rising stripe.  Also really like the color scheme--not too flashy, but not overdone (and I'm pretty sure the blue-white-orange(??) combination is not in use on any other flag), and it just looks good.  This would be higher were it not for the star.  It's not a huge dealbreaker--still like it a lot, and it might even be higher on one of my better days--but it draws a little too much attention to itself.  I think I'd be happier with a simpler star--or none at all.

8. Greenland

(I really don't know if this should count, since I think it's both considered to be a country as well as part of the Kingdom of Denmark.  But since no one knows that... we'll just ignore this.)

This flag beats out other circle based designs such as Japan for being a little more creative than the others.  It's supposed to represent the sun reflecting off a sheet of ice, which seems to fit Greenland well.  It also fits Greenland in its reversal of colors in the circle--mirroring the sort of "nothing is what it seems" name of the country itself.

7. United Kingdom

The Union Jack is pretty great.  It's the best combination of the red, white and blue colors (suck it, US), and it combines the individual flags of England, Scotland and Ireland into one iconic design.  The only problem with it is--well, on a list of the Top 20 worst country flags, the Union Jack is probably featured on about 20 of them.

6. Switzerland

Simple, iconic, square.  You don't need any other explanation.

5. Saudi Arabia

Green, white--good and simple.  The top inscription I'm assuming actually says something in Arabic, which I feel I would dislike if I could actually read or understand Arabic.  But I can't-- what I can understand, however, is that big old sword pointing to the left.  And paired with that big old sword, that indecipherable text suddenly becomes amazingly clear: "don't f*** with Saudi Arabia."

4. Angola

As badass as Saudi Arabia's flag happens to be, it can't match Angola throwing in a damn machete.  It seems like an update to the hammer and sickle symbol--the hammer being replaced with a cogwheel that thankfully brings us up-to-date with the industrial age.  Sara says that she gets a steampunk communist Star Wars vibe from this guy--and I really can't argue with that. Also, it just out-badasses Saudi Arabia... which I didn't think could be possible.

(Also, apparently this flag is in danger of being replaced--by this one.)

(I cannot state how catastrophic this would be.  It would be catastrophic.)

3. Canada

When you think of Canada, I can't imagine you thinking of anything but this, the very definition of iconic.  (I mean, I guess you could think of something like hockey... but that's more boring.)  It's simple, striking, all with the famous maple leaf centered in the middle.  Other countries have tried the plant based design in their flags, and it never comes off as clean as this.  This is near ideal for a flag.  It's so great, I can only imagine that hockey's Toronto Maple Leafs named themselves after this flag.  They *didn't*, since this flag was adopted in the 60's--decades after the team started play.  But it sounds like a cool story.

2. Sweden

I love the Nordic cross.  Not just the design of it, but how essentially an entire region of people decided to adopt similar flags as a sign of unity.  That's pretty cool, if you ask me.  And also... Scandinavia is just plain awesome, so obviously their flags have to be pretty damn cool.  Only want to include one on the list here, though... and I'm going to give the nod to Sweden, just because the color scheme is (in my eyes) wonderful, and very identifiably Swedish. 

(Or maybe I just identify these colors with Sweden--back when those Human Rights Campaign stickers first started coming out, I thought it was advocating for Swedish equality and wondered why so many people would be concerned with it/why it was even a thing.  I was wrong, apparently.) 

1. Macedonia

It's another slight variation of the circle design, with a lot of similarities to the Japanese War Flag (without the baggage that Japan's controversial variation brings).  It's IMMENSELY striking, with the red and yellow complementing each other perfectly in this design (as opposed to say... the red and yellow colors of China, which don't work as well), and the design is simple yet effective.  I don't know what else to say--I feel like this would be a world-famous design if Macedonia was a bigger player in the world.  Really, the country's kind of slacking in living up to the greatness of its flag.  Not sure what they could do in order to step it up and become world renown--maybe stage a civil war or something. 

No wait!  The Olympics are near.  Macedonia is scheduled to at least send one Olympic athlete... most likely more.  They need each and every one of their athletes to not only win the Gold Medal--but break world records--and break said world records in half the previous time.  Or less.

It can be done.


(Technically, it's Flag Day in the US, and I believe it's meant to celebrate the US flag.  So here I am celebrating other countries' flags left and right while I am blatantly ignoring the one we salute.  Which is not right.  So, in the spirit of Flag Day, I am going to also pay tribute to Old Glory and properly describe what a beaut it really is.)



Nope, can't do it.

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