The flag of Afghanistan (Pashto: د افغانستان بیرغ; Dari: پرچم افغانستان) consists of a white field with a black Shahada (an Islamic oath). It is also the flag of the Taliban, which has led the government since 2021. Afghanistan has had 25 national flags since the first flag when the Hotak dynasty was established in 1709. During the 20th century alone, Afghanistan went through 19 national flags, more than any other country during that time period, and most of them had three colors: black, red, and green.
|Use||National flag and ensign|
|Adopted||October 27, 1997|
August 15, 2021
(restoration of the Emirate)
|Design||The Shahada in black on a white field in calligraphic script|
|Use||National flag and ensign|
|Design||The Shahada in black on a white field, underneath which is "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in Pashto, both written in calligraphic script|
Following the Fall of Kabul in 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has been the country's de facto government. The flag of the internationally recognized Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (a black, red, and green tricolour with the national emblem centered in white) remains in use internationally as well as by the resistance movement within Afghanistan.
On 11 September 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan hoisted the flag at the Arg, Kabul following the reports of defeat of National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) 5 days prior and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
History of Afghanistan's tricolor flags
The black color represents its troubled 19th century history as a protected state, the red color represents the blood of those who fought for independence (specifically, the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919), and the green represents hope and prosperity for the future. Some have alternatively interpreted the black to represent history, the red to represent progress, and the green to represent either agricultural prosperity or Islam.
The tricolor was supposedly inspired by the Afghan King Amanullah Khan when visiting Europe with his wife in 1928. The original horizontal tricolor design was based on that of the flag of Germany.
Almost every Afghan tricolor flag since 1928 has had the Emblem of Afghanistan in the center. Almost every emblem has had a mosque in it, which first appeared in 1901, and wheat, first appearing in 1928.
The last tricolor flag took its current form in 2002 with modifications later on in 2004 and 2013, with some variants containing differing colored emblems.
Following the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after the Fall of Kabul in 2021, protests took place in Jalalabad and other cities, where protesters were seen waving Afghan tricolor flags protesting its removal in defiance of Taliban rule, due to the reinstatement of the white Shahada flag and the abolishment of the former black, red, and green tricolor flag.
The tricolor flag was used by the Afghan delegation at the 2020 Summer Paralympics between 25 August and 5 September 2021, as well as at the 2021 Cricket T20 World Cup between 26 October and 4 November 2021, both after the fall of Kabul.
The color video approximations (valid for flags 1928–1978 and 1980–2021) are listed below:
Flags of Afghanistan on Kote Sangi during Independence Day
The Afghan flag flying at the Presidential Palace compound (2019)
Afghan flag hanging over the Afghan Embassy in Bonn, Germany
Afghan flags during the handover of Lashkargah (2011)
Afghan Border Police in Herat (2011)
Flags being flown during an anti-Taliban demonstration in Berlin, Germany (2021)
|Flag||Years of use||Ratio||Government||Notes|
|1709–1738||2:3||Hotak dynasty||Flag of the Hotak dynasty|
|1747–1842||2:3||Durrani Empire||Flag flown under the rule of Ahmad Shah Durrani and his dynasty|
|1842–1880||Emirate of Afghanistan||Prior to 1880, the Barakzai dynasty did not use the flag associated with the Durranis, or any official alternative.|
|1880–1901||2:3||Emirate of Afghanistan||Flag flown under the rule of Abdul Rahman Khan|
|1901–1919||3:5||Emirate of Afghanistan||State and war flag flown under the rule of Habibullah Khan. Habibullah added to his father's flag a seal that is the precursor of the modern-day seal, containing the mosque.|
|1919–1926/29||2:3||Emirate of Afghanistan||First flag flown under the rule of King Amanullah. He expanded upon his father's flag by adding rays emanating from the seal in the form of an octagram. This new style of seal was common in the Ottoman Empire. Afghanistan became a kingdom in 1926.|
|1926–1928||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||Second flag flown under the rule of King Amanullah. He replaced the octagram with a wreath and slightly modified the national seal. This mosque design in this seal would be adopted for most of Afghanistan's flags in the future. The mosque has a mihrab facing Mecca.|
|1928||3:5||Kingdom of Afghanistan||Third flag flown under the rule of King Amanullah, introduced c. June 1928. The black, red, and green tricolor, respectively representing the past (previous flags), the bloodshed for independence (Third Anglo-Afghan War), and hope for the future, was probably influenced by Khan's visit abroad to Europe and especially Weimar Republic (black-red-gold) in 1927.|
|1928–1929||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||Fourth flag flown under the rule of King Amanullah, introduced c. July 1928. It was the first vertical-tricolored flag which would be used throughout most of the remainder of the 20th century and in the present day. The new seal shows the sun rising over two snow-capped mountains, representing a new beginning for the kingdom. This seal also contained heaps of wheat, an icon that would be present on all future emblems of Afghanistan throughout different regimes. Notably, only the Soviet emblem had wheat at the time, and would in the future appear on many communist states' flags.|
|2:3||A variant of the above flag with long thick sun rays, similar to the Japanese Rising Sun Flag, as well as a centered yellow star|
|1929||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||A short-lived flag flown from January to October 1929|
|1929||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||This flag (same as the original 1919) was reported to be flown under the short-lived rule of Inayatullah Khan.|
|1929||2:3||Emirate of Afghanistan (1929)||Flag flown under the brief rule of Habibullah Kalakani – a red, black, and white vertical tricolor, like the ones used by the Mongols during their occupation of Afghanistan in the 13th century|
|1929||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||During the rebellion of Kalakani, a similar flag was used in Herat in the rebellion of the Tajiks.|
|1929||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||Transitional flag used by Ali Ahmad Khan's short-lived rival government in Jalalabad, in opposition to Kalakani|
|1929 – 27 March 1930||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||First flag flown under the rule of Nader Shah. The black, red, and green tricolor was re-established; the octogram seal borrowed from the first flag of King Amanullah replaced the sun and mountains seal, but the black-red-green vertical design was restored.|
|27 March 1930 – 16 July 1973||2:3||Kingdom of Afghanistan||Second flag flown under the rule of Nader Shah, it was also used by his son, Zahir Shah. The octagram rays were removed, and the seal enlarged – the mosque design is the same as introduced in the 1926 flag. In between the mosque and the seal is the year ١٣٤٨ (1348 of the lunar Islamic calendar, or 1929 AD of the Gregorian calendar) the year Mohammed Nadir Shah's dynasty began.|
|17 July 1973 – 8 May 1974||2:3||Republic of Afghanistan||First flag flown for the Republic of Afghanistan. It is identical to the previous flag, except that the year ١٣٤٨ was removed as Zahir Shah's monarchy ended.|
|9 May 1974 – 26 April 1978||2:3||Republic of Afghanistan||Second flag flown for the Republic of Afghanistan. The same colors were used, but the meanings reinterpreted: black for the obscure past, red for blood shed for independence, and green for prosperity from agriculture. In the canton is a new seal, with a golden eagle with spread wings, a pulpit (minbar) on the eagle's chest (for a mosque), wheat surrounding the eagle, and the sun's rays above the eagle (for the new republic).|
|27 April 1978 – 18 October 1978||2:3||Democratic Republic of Afghanistan||When the republic's president Mohammad Daoud Khan was killed in a coup, the new regime under the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) established a communist state. For a brief period of time, during the transition, the same flag design was kept, but no seal. A similar flag was used by the Junbish-e Milli party which controlled autonomous northern Afghanistan from 1992 to 1998.|
|19 October 1978 – 21 April 1980||1:2||Democratic Republic of Afghanistan||A radical change, this flag used a red field with a yellow seal in the canton, a common design for socialist states in the 20th century. It consisted of the PDPA's Khalq faction's emblem with wheat, a star at the top (representing the five ethnic groups of the nation), the term 'Khalq' in Arabic script in the center, and a subtitle reading 'Saur Revolution ١٣٥٧' and the full name of the state.|
|1980||1:2||Democratic Republic of Afghanistan||After the overthrow of the Khalq faction by the Parcham faction during the Soviet invasion, the flag of the People's Democratic Party, featuring a cogwheel representing industry and an ear of wheat to represent agriculture, was additionally used as a national flag.|
|22 April 1980 – 29 November 1987||1:2||Democratic Republic of Afghanistan||Under the Fundamental Principles program of the new leadership under Babrak Karmal, the traditional black, red, and green tricolor was re-established, representing the past, blood shed for independence, and the Islamic faith, respectively. A new seal was designed, with a rising sun (a reference to the former name, Khorasan, meaning "Land of the Rising Sun"), a pulpit and a book (considered to be the Communist Manifesto or Capital by Karl Marx), ribbons with the national colors, a cogwheel for industry, and a red star for communism. The seal's ribbons and wheat has similarities to the then- East German and Romanian seals.|
|30 November 1987 – 26 April 1992||1:2||Republic of Afghanistan||The flag was changed as part of Mohammad Najibullah's National Reconciliation constitution changes. Same as the previous flag, except that in the national seal, the cogwheel is moved from the top to the bottom, the red star and the book are removed, and the green field curved to resemble the horizon.|
|27 April 1992 − 6 December 1992||1:2||Islamic State of Afghanistan||This flag was used as a provisional flag after the fall of the Najibullah pro-Soviet regime. It appeared in many variants of which one is shown here. In the upper stripe is Arabic Allahu Akbar, ("God is the greatest"); the center stripe (now white, with the red entirely removed from the flag) contains the Shahada.|
|1:2||This flag was used as another provisional flag after the fall of the Najibullah pro-Soviet regime.|
|7 December 1992 – 27 September 1996; 27 September 1996 – 27 January 2002 (Northern Alliance)||1:2||Islamic State of Afghanistan||The new Islamic government under Rabbani featured a flag change. The color scheme is similar to several Middle Eastern Muslim nations' flags. The emblem is the same as the monarchy-era emblem, but with the addition of the Shahada and swords representing the mujahideen's victory. It now shows the year ١۲۹٨ (1298), the solar Islamic calendar equivalent of AD 1919 of the Gregorian Calendar, the year of full independence. On the bottom part of the emblem was written "دا افغانستان اسلامی دولت", Islamic State of Afghanistan.|
|27 September 1996 – 27 October 1997||Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan||A plain white banner was used by the Taliban.|
|27 October 1997 – 12 November 2001||1:2||Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan||In 1997, the Taliban introduced the Shahada in black on a white flag as the national flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.|
|1:2||A variant flag flown by the Taliban|
|13 November 2001 – 27 January 2002||1:2||Islamic State of Afghanistan||This flag was used by President Rabbani along with the national flag after the fall of the Taliban government. Same as the 1992 flag, but with Pashto and Dari texts.|
|28 January 2002 – 27 June 2002||1:2||Transitional Administration||After the fall of the Taliban, the traditional black, red and green colors were restored and in a vertical pattern, just as the ones flown from 1928 to 1974. The center emblem is the classical emblem of Afghanistan – it is the same version as used in the 1992 flag, but with the swords removed.|
|27 June 2002 – 9 October 2004||1:2||Transitional Administration||The Loya Jirga of spring 2002 voted the Afghan national flag with some changes including the Coat of Arms being gold instead of white, the year now dating "1380" under the mosque instead of "1348". In June 2002, Afghanistan officially changed its national flag from a white coat of arms in the center of the flag to a gold coat of arms which symbolizes the colour of a wheat wreath.|
|9 October 2004 – 15 August 2021; 15 August 2021 – present (used by the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan)||2:3||Islamic Republic of Afghanistan[b]||This flag incorporates the tweaked national emblem with a larger ribbon and which overlaps into the black and green bars instead of being completely contained in the red bar. It continues to be used while in government in exile by the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan.|
|2:3||A variant of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan flag with a colored emblem instead of white|
|15 August 2021 – present||1:2||Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan[a]||In 2021, the Taliban re-introduced the Shahada on a white flag in a 1:2 ratio, and a different typeface used.|
|1:2||A variant of the Shahada on a white flag with "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in Pashto written below the Shahada; a Dari Persian version of the flag has also been observed, although less frequently.|
- De facto government since the Fall of Kabul (2021)
- Internationally recognized government
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