The flag of Iceland (Icelandic: íslenski fáninn) was officially described in Law No. 34, set out on 17 June 1944, the day Iceland became a republic. The law is entitled "The Law of the National Flag of Icelanders and the State Arms" and describes the Icelandic flag as follows:

UseCivil flag and ensign Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Reverse side is mirror image of obverse side
Adopted17 June 1944; 79 years ago (1944-06-17) (standardization from 1918)
DesignA blue field with the white-edged red Nordic cross that extends to the edges; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side.
In Blazon, "Azure, a cross gules fimbriated argent".
Designed byMatthías Þórðarson
UseState and war flag, state and naval ensign Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag Reverse side is mirror image of obverse side
Reverse side is mirror image of obverse side The flag of the president of Iceland. It has an aspect ratio of 9:16.
Reverse side is mirror image of obverse side The flag of the Icelandic Customs Service. It has an aspect ratio of 9:16.

The civil national flag of Icelanders is blue as the sky with a snow-white cross, and a fiery-red cross inside the white cross. The arms of the cross extend to the edge of the flag, and their combined width is 29, but the red cross 19 of the combined width of the flag. The blue areas are right angled rectangles, the rectilinear surfaces are parallel and the outer rectilinear surfaces as wide as them, but twice the length. The dimensions between the width and length are 18:25.

Iceland's first national flag was a white cross on a deep blue background. It was first shown in parade in 1897. The modern flag dates from 1915, when a red cross was inserted into the white cross of the original flag. This cross represents Christianity.[2][3] It was adopted and became the national flag when Iceland was granted sovereignty by Denmark in 1918. For the Icelandic people the flag's colouring represents a vision of their country's landscape. The colours stand for three of the elements that make up the island. Red is the fire produced by the island's volcanoes, white recalls the ice and snow that covers Iceland, and the blue is for the mountains of the island.[4]

History edit

Old Icelandic flag (which was never an official flag) in the National Museum of Iceland, in Reykjavik, Iceland.

According to a legend described in Andrew Evans' Iceland,[5] a red cloth with a white cross fell from the heavens, ensuring Danish victory at the Battle of Valdemar in the 13th century. Denmark then used the cross on its flag throughout its Nordic territories as a sign of divine right. Upon Iceland's independence, they continued to use the Christian symbol.

The civil flag of Iceland had been used as an unofficial symbol since the late 19th century, originally as a white cross on a blue background. The current design was adopted on 19 June 1915, when King Kristján X issued a decree allowing it to be flown in Icelandic territorial waters, where previously only the Danish flag had been permitted, and stipulating that a red cross was to be incorporated into the design to distinguish it from similar foreign flags.[6] Other symbolic meanings refer to the natural features of Iceland itself. Blue is the colour of the mountains when looked at from the coast, white represents the snow and ice covering the island for most of the year, and red the volcanoes on the island.[4]

Laws regarding the flag edit

On 17 June 1944, the day Iceland became a republic, a law was issued that dealt with the national flag and the coat of arms. To date, this is the only major law to have been made about the flag and coat of arms, aside from two laws made in 1991: one that defines official flag days as well as the time of day the flag can be drawn, and another that defines the specific colours that the Icelandic flag is composed of (until then, the colouring had followed by convention; the new law set the common custom in stone).

The law describes the dimensions of both the common flag and special governmental flags used by embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It also goes into details of usage, such as how the flag should be attached in different situations such as on a flagpole, a house and on different kinds of ships.

According to the law, using the flag is a privilege and not a right. The owner must follow instructions on its usage and make sure that his or her flag is in mint condition regarding colouring, wear and tear. It also states that no-one shall disrespect the flag in act or word, subject to a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

The original law stated in its seventh article that another law would be set regarding official flag days and the time of day that the flag may be flown, but such a law was not put into effect until almost 50 years later in 1991. This law states that the flag shall not be flown until 7:00 in the morning, that it should preferably not be flown beyond sunset but that it must not be flown beyond midnight. However, if the flag is raised at an outdoor assembly, an official gathering, funeral or a memorial the flag may be flown as long as the event lasts, though never beyond midnight.

Icelandic flag days edit

Icelandic flags in Viðey
The Icelandic flag in Þingvellir National Park

According to Law No. 5 of 23 January 1991, the following are nationally sanctioned flag days. On these days the flag must be raised at official buildings, and those under the supervision of officials and special representatives of the state. Any additions to the list below can be decided each year by the Prime Minister's Office. On these days, the flag must be fully drawn, except on Good Friday where it must be drawn at half-mast.

The state flag edit

Icelandic state flag at the Embassy in Helsinki.

The Icelandic state flag (Ríkisfáni), known as the Tjúgufáni, was first flown on 1 December 1918 from the house of ministry offices, although laws regarding its uses had not been finished. It was not until 12 February 1919 that such a law was enacted.

The State flag is used on governmental buildings and embassies. It is also permitted to use the flag on other buildings, if they are being used by the government in some fashion. The Tjúgufáni is the Naval Ensign of the Icelandic Coast Guard as well, and state ships and other ships put to official uses are permitted to use it.

The Customs service flag is used on buildings used by the Icelandic Customs service and Customs checkpoints, as well as ships used by the Icelandic Customs service.

The Icelandic Presidential flag is used on the dwellings of the President as well as any vehicles that transports them.

Colors of the flag edit

Officially, the colors of the Icelandic flag follow a law set in 1991 which states that the colors must be the following Standard Color of Textile (Dictionnaire International de la Couleur) hues:

Scheme Blue White Red

The government of Iceland has issued[7] colour specifications in the better known Pantone, CMYK, RGB, hex triplet and Avery systems.

Scheme Blue White Red
Hex #02529C #FFFFFF #DC1E35
RGB 2, 82, 156 255, 255, 255 220, 30, 53
Pantone 287 1c 199
CMYK 100, 75, 2, 18 0, 0, 0, 0 0, 100, 72, 0
Avery 520 501 503

Construction sheets edit

National and merchant flag
State and war flag, state and naval ensign

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Icelandic National Flag Proportion - Prime Minister's Office
  2. ^ Jeroen Temperman (2010). State Religion Relationships and Human Rights Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 978-9004181489. Retrieved 2007-12-31. Many predominantly Christian states show a cross, symbolising Christianity, on their national flag. Scandinavian crosses or Nordic crosses on the flags of the Nordic countries–Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden–also represent Christianity.
  3. ^ Carol A. Foley (1996). The Australian Flag: Colonial Relic or Contemporary Icon. William Gaunt & Sons. ISBN 9781862871885. Retrieved 2007-12-31. The Christian cross, for instance, is one of the oldest and most widely used symbols in the world, and many European countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greece and Switzerland, adopted and currently retain the Christian cross on their national flags.
  4. ^ a b "History of the Icelandic Flag". Prime Minister's Office. Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  5. ^ Andrew Evans (2008). Iceland. Bradt. ISBN 9781841622156. Retrieved 2007-12-31. Legend states that a red cloth with the white cross simply fell from the sky in the middle of the 13th-century Battle of Valdemar, after which the Danes were victorious. As a badge of divine right, Denmark flew its cross in the other Nordic countries it ruled and as each nation gained independence, they incorporated the Christian symbol.
  6. ^ Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). The History of Iceland. London: C. Hurst & Co. p. 283. ISBN 0-8166-3588-9.
  7. ^ "AUGLÝSING um liti íslenska fánans" (PDF). PMO.
  • Lög um þjóðfána Íslendinga og ríkisskjaldarmerkið. ( 1944 nr. 34 17. júní ).
Retrieved 14 May 2004 from
  • Forsetaúrskurður um fánadaga og fánatíma. ( 1991 nr. 5 23. janúar ).
Retrieved 14 May 2004 from
  • Auglýsing um liti íslenska fánans. ( 1991 nr. 6 23. janúar ).
Retrieved 14 May 2004 from
  • Lög um breyting á lögum nr. 34 17. júní 1944, um þjóðfána Íslendinga.
Retrieved 14 May 2004 from

External links edit