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Bolivia

Bolivia / Buliwya / Wuliwya / Volívia

Last modified: 2012-03-23 by antónio martins
Keywords: bolivia | buliwya | wuliwya | volívia | state flag | variation | fertility | bravery | wealth | president | flag: national | disc (blue) |
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Flag of Bolivia
by António Martins, 17 Aug 2005 | 15:22
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About the flag

The Album 2000 [pay00] says:

1. National flag. C--/C-- 2:3
As far as I am aware, this flag is defined in Decret of 14 July 1888 and has not been changed since (though, possibly there were latter regulations that did not touch this simple flag).
Željko Heimer, 11 Mar 2001

Flag adopted in 1851.10.31, and confirmed in 1888.07.14.
Jaume Ollé, 01 Jan 1996

The current Bolivian flag law was published as a special issue of the Bolivian official journal: Gaceta Oficial de Bolivia 2630/XLIV (2004.07.19), La Paz; it shows a large color depiction of the national arms and the title Simbolos Patrios (= Symbols of the Fatherland). I’m not sure wheather these new regulations do indeed introduce any changes or just bring toghether and clarify previously disperse legal provisions and/or costumary tradition.
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

Design

Art. 4, point III, of the flag law prescribes the civil flag, which is the plain triband.
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

The Law of 5 November 1851 (of which I only have a small extract), the (Supreme) Decree of President Gregorio Pacheco of 11 July 1888, and the (Supreme) Decree of 30 July 2004 all place the red stripe uppermost.
Christopher Southworth, 09 Apr 2006

Colors

Art. 3 of the flag law gives the official color shades: Red is PMS 485 CVU, yellow is PMS Process Yellow, and green is PMS 356 CVU. Red and yellow match both the images on these pages and the law text illustrations, but the shade of green not so: While the prescribed PMS value is darker than regular green (), the law text illustrations show a much brighter shade.
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

As far as the yellow of the Bolivian tricolour is concerned, I have no official recommendations, however, an official model of the Naval Ensign shows the middle stripe to be Pantone 107C.
Christopher Southworth, 04 Feb 2002

Ratio

In art. 2 of the flag law, the ratio of the flag is given as 7,5:11, which is as clumsy as it comes for a flag with three equal-height stripes. (A much more even fraction to express this ratio is 15:22.) This pretty odd ratio seems to be a novelty, as all previous sources we heard of mentioned 2:3 instead (which is not very different from 15:22, anyway). The question is, as said, wheather this ratio prescription indeed indends to introduce a change, or merely legislates what was previously unregulated…
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

I also wondered why a regulated size of 15:22, but since there is only 0.034% of flag width in it I would imagine that most flags would actually be made 2:3?
Christopher Southworth, 20 Aug 2005

Symbolism

Art. 1 of the flag law, mentions the symbolism of the colors, as patriotic bloodshed, nature’s bounty, and verdure and hope. (Which is all bogus, as we know.)
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

In Whitney Smith’s Flags through he Ages and Across the World [smi75b] the red is said to stand for the bravery of the Bolivian soldier, green is the fertility of the land and yellow represents the country’s mineral resources.
Stephan Hurford, 13 Feb 2000

In Webster’s Concise Encyclopedia of Flags, 1985 [mch85a]:

The three horizontal stripes of the Bolivian flag — red, yellow and green — respectively symbolize the gallantry of Bolivian soldiers, the country’s mineral wealth, and the fertility of the land.
The meaning of colors on flags is usually given after a flag is adopted; this was probably the case here, as they were derived from earlier flags of Colombia and her liberator, Simon Bolívar
Jarig Bakker, 13 Feb 2000

According to [mch85a], the flag with its present order of stripes was introduced in 1851 but a number of variations had been used since Bolivia gained independence in 1825.
Jarig Bakker, 02 Jan 2002


State flag

State Flag of Bolivia
by António Martins, 17 Aug 2005 | 15:22

The Bolivian coat of arms of 1888 is placed in the middle of the state flag.
Jarig Bakker, 02 Jan 2002

I’ve been in Bolivia in March 2001; the state flag is hardly ever seen. Even over the presidential palace the plain tricolour is flown.
Mark Sensen, 03 Jul 2005

Art. 4, point I, of the flag law prescribes the state flag; the image which illustrates it is very low quality and there is no indication (neither textual nor pictoric) of the size of the emblem — only that it should be “centered” on the yellow stripe and showing on both sides of the flag. (It is also left unsaid whather the embelm is mirrored or rotated on the flag’s reverse.)
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005

According to a detailed graphic of the arms at an official website, their proportions are 13:15 (and apparently occupying 13/17 the width of the central stripe), plus official Pantone colours of red 465, Process yellow and green 356.
Christopher Southworth, 02 Aug 2004

The Album 2000 [pay00] have the emblem much larger, about half of the flag hoist. It says:

2. State Flag -SW/-S- 2:3
The note beside this flag describes that it is also the personal flag for the President of the Republic and and that it is also used in 1:2 variant. What’s the right size of the coat of arms in the state flag, it is prescribed anywhere at all? The book [smi80] indicates the flag use only as -SW/---, possibly at that time there was no regulation regarding the state ships on lakes or so.
Željko Heimer, 11 Mar 2001

Variations

large emblem and 1:2 ratio

Modern unofficial variation
image by António Martins, 27 Sep 1999

On Bolivian web sites [f.i., www.bolivian.com/bolivia/bandera.html] there is a new version of the national flag, which I believe is only for decorative reasons. It shows the coat-of-arms stretching out over all three stripes!
Ralf Stelter, 13 Jun 1999

According to an original piece received from the bolivian embassy in Paris (and a phone call from them), the flag should normally be in 2:3 ratio, the flag in 1:2 being an alternative variant.
Armand du Payrat, 28 Sep 1999

This large emblem verson is kind of unofficial, but ceremonial version used when “it matters”, if I may put it that way.
Željko Heimer, 11 Mar 2001

My sources (real flags and designs from French Embassy in La Paz and from Bolivian Consulate in Paris) have various sizes of coat of arms in flag.
Armand du Payrat, 12 Mar 2001

emblem on blue disc

blue disc variation
image by António Martins, 09 May 2004

[smi80] shows the coat of arms set in light blue disk of diameter equal to yellow stripe height.
Željko Heimer, 11 Mar 2001

My sources (real flags and designs from French Embassy in La Paz and from Bolivian Consulate in Paris) concurr to no blue disk.
Armand du Payrat, 12 Mar 2001

Art. 5, point IV, of the flag law, which prescribes the national coat of arms, includes a provision that «when needed» the it should have a “pearl blue” background, which may account for this variant / error.
António Martins, 19 Aug 2005


Presidential flag

State Flag of Bolivia
by António Martins, 17 Aug 2005 | 15:22

The note beside the state flag in the Album 2000 [pay00] describes that it is also the personal flag for the President of the Republic and and that it is also used in 1:2 variant.
Željko Heimer, 11 Mar 2001

I’ve been in Bolivia in March 2001; the state flag is hardly ever seen. Even over the presidential palace the plain tricolour is flown.
Mark Sensen, 03 Jul 2005


Confusion with other flags

The flag of Bolivia is easily confusable with those of Burma, Lithuania, Ethiopia, and Ghana, to mention only national flags.
António Martins, 01 Sep 2010

Flag used upside-down

Flag of Bolivia upside-down
by António Martins, 06 Apr 2006

“War flag”?

A friend of mine whose son is serving as a missionary in Bolivia said that his son has reported that the red stripe is up only in times of war. I said that that is more than likely an urban legend.
David Kendall, 27 Jun 2005

Very very fishy. The red stripe is up, according to the law, yet was at war last time in the 1920ies; even if it is red on the bottom (i.e., inverted flag) meaning war, it would be unthinkable to fly the coat of arms upside down (on the state flag).
António Martins, 03 Jul 2005 and 01 Dec 2006

Probably an urban legend, but possibly based on the Philippines war flag. I’m sure the father in question knows whether his son is in the Philippines or Bolivia, but if it’s a friend-of-a-friend story, the countries could shift.
Dean McGee, 10 Apr 2006

With St. George

In the a collection of world flags assembled by Priest Legros shown in the castle of La Palice in Lapalisse, France, a flag of Bolivia, horizontally divided green-yellow-red with St. George trampling the dragon in the middle of the yellow stripe.
Olivier Touzeau and Ivan Sache, 01 Jan 2009

I’m sure that this is a is a misidentification — this, with St. George and the green on top, is an Ethiopian or Rastafarian.I wouldn’t be surprised if this confusion arised more often, with the red stripe of the Rasta flag being so often shown on top (which is not even this case, though).
António Martins, 01 Sep 2010


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