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Liberia

ꔷꗪꔸꕩ, Republic of Liberia

Last modified: 2013-12-22 by rob raeside
Keywords: liberia | star: 5 points (white) | stripes: 11 | stripes: 13 | united states | flag day |
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Flag of Liberia image by Željko Heimer, 16 May 2002


See also:

About the flag

Design

Flag of 11 red and white stripes with blue canton containing a white five-pointed star. Most modern sources agree on 10:19 ratio of the flag (based also on the US flag ratio), but older sources seem to ignore it.
Željko Heimer, 9 May 2002

Star and canton

The prescriptions of the Law positively require the size of star generally shown — with the upper point level with the base of the first stripe, its middle points level with the top of the third stripe and its lower points level with the top of the fifth stripe.
Christopher Southworth, 24 March 2005

On the assumption that one wishes to keep the two outer points of the star in line with the top of the second red stripe — it requires two alternative sizes of star to fulfill the requirements of the Law (whichever was intended).

  1. The first is to centre the disk containing the star, which requires such disk to be two-thirds the canton.
  2. The second, which places the upper and lower points equidistant from the top and base of the canton would require a disk whose diameter is equal to three-quarters the canton.
Another possible way in which the question could be viewed, would be: «Is two-thirds the canton of sufficient size to fulfill the requirement of “large” as stipulated in the Law, and if it is, was it so intended?»

There is a third alternative which looks right, but which does not quite fulfill the legal requirement that the star should be in the exact centre of the canton, in that the centre point of the circle containing it is fractionally below the centre point of the square, and this is the one shown in BR20 [gra00]. In this instance the outer points of the star are level with the top of the second red stripe (as with the earlier two), whilst the lower two points are level with the top of the fifth red stripe, and to achieve it requires the diameter to be 18/25 (or 72%) the canton.

I personally like the look of the third alternative as being the neatest, but what was intended by the legislators seems to be something of a mystery?
Christopher Southworth, 24 March 2005

Symbolism

The eleven stripes stand for the eleven signatories of the Liberian declaration of independence.
Roy Stilling, 04 December 1996

The Liberia’s national flag is called “Lone Star”. The eleven horizontal stripes represent the eleven signers of the declaration of independence and the constitution of the Republic of Liberia; the blue field symbolizes the continent of Africa; the five pointed white star depicts Liberia as the first “independent republic” on the continent of Africa; the red color designates “valor”; the white, “purity”; and the blue, “fidelity”. Although these representations are uniquely Liberian, the flag itself is a replica of “Old Glory”, the national flag of the United States.
Pascal Gross, 07 September 1998

Origin

The previous flag was altered by reducing the number of stripes to 11 and replacing the cross with a single white star 26 July 1847.
Dave Martucci, 21 April 1997

Following the declaration of independence in on July 26, 1847, the founders of that first African Republic scheduled August 24, 1847 as the date of unfurling a new flag for the new Republic.

The new flag was similar to an earlier flag attributed to the Colony except that in place of a “Christian cross” in the upper left corner, was a single star. One local poet — in describing the describing the flag in a publication on August 26, 1847 — said of the star «after ages of wandering, has at length found its orbit». While also similar to the American “Stars and Stripes”, the Liberian flag had eleven stripes representing the eleven individuals elected to the Constitution Convention of 1847.

At the special program Susanna Waring-Lewis, chairperson of the committee appointed to sew the new flag, gave a “patriotic” speech which, according to an attending correspondent as a «testimony of female patriotism and ardor in the cause of Liberia’s independence».

Another correspondent described the ceremony this way: «During the ceremony of presenting the flag, many eyes were suffused with tears. And indeed, who that remembered the past could forbear to weep? Who that looked back to America and remembered what he saw and felt there, Could be otherwise than agitated».

(Complied from: Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830-1970, by Dr. Carl Earl Burrowes, for the Liberian Human Rights Network)

Colours

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be. Liberia: PMS 281 blue, 032 red. The vertical flag is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012


Flag laws

The flag was legally established in an Annex to the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia of 16 June 1847, and the relevant part reads as follows (I understand that the fragment I quote come from the Neubecker’s files; translated from the German by myself):

The Flag shall consist of six red stripes alternating with five white stripes arranged in sequence. In the upper corner of the flag next to the staff is a square, blue canton covering the first five stripes, and in the centre of blue is a white star.

Christopher Southworth, 17 March 2004 and 24 March 2005

The proportions were fixed at 10:19 by a Flag Law (amending a previous Code of Law of an unknown date and) approved by the National Legislature on 11 April 1961, together with details of the design and the shades of red and blue. The relevant Sections read as follows:

Section 30.
Description of the Flag:

The National Flag of the Republic shall consist of eleven horizontal red and white stripes. The stripes shall alternate and the first and the last shall be red. There shall be a square blue canton extending from the left top corner of the Flag to the bottom of the third red stripe, and a large five-pointed star superimposed in the exact centre of the blue canton.

Section 31.
Distinguishing characteristics of the Flag:

The following shall be the distinguishing characteristics of the Flag:

  1. The exact shade of blue in the Flag shall be Navy Blue, which symbolizes liberty, justice and fidelity;
  2. The exact shade of the white in the Flag shall be pure white, meaning the chromatic color of the highest brilliance and symbolizing purity, cleanliness and guilelessness; and,
  3. The exact shade of red in the flag shall be ruby red, which signifies steadfastness, valor and fervor.

Section 32.
Sizes and general uses of the Flag:

The following shall constitute the different sizes and uses of the Flag:

  1. The Garrison Flag. The Garrison flag of 20 feet hoist by 38 feet fly shall be flown on the Executive Mansion, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, military installations and other such public buildings as may be designated, during working days, holidays, national or official celebrations and other important occasions.
  2. The Port Flag. The Port flag of 10 feet hoist by 19 feet fly is the “general use” flag and shall be flown at offices, military installations, institutions and other premises during pleasant weather.
  3. The Storm Flag. The Storm flag of 5 feet hoist and 9 feet 6 inches fly shall be flown during stormy weather.
  4. The Interment Flag. The Interment flag shall be the same size as the storm flag and shall be used to cover the caskets containing the remains of important officials of the Government of the Republic including military personnel.
  5. Vehicle Flag not larger than 14 inches in the fly.

Christopher Southworth, 17 March 2004 and 24 March 2005


Variant representations of the flag

Most modern sources agree on 10:19 ratio of the flag, but older sources seem to ignore it, as well as the relative size of the canton and the star within. So [neu92] has 2:3 image, and [gmc17] has an image that measures 20×33 mm. Today it seems it is taken for granted that the canton is square, but the two other sources has the canton about 2:3 and 4:5 respectivly. They all agree that the height of the canton is five stripes. The star seems to be inscribed in a circle with diameter about 3 stripes width (though with minor differences in all three soruces).
Željko Heimer, 9 May 2002

As you can see there is no size given in the laws for the star only the instruction that it should be «large».
Christopher Southworth, 17 March 2004

From 1858 chart [hbl58]

Only one Liberian flag in chart [hbl58], labelled «Liberia» at position (7;7): 11 stripes and square canton taking up five of them; the star is larger than usual and the ratio approx. 2:3 (generic of this source); this depiction seems more accurate than most in contermporary and later sources .
António Martins, 1 October 2008

From Flaggenbuch (1939-1941) [neu92]

Liberian flag in [neu92] image by Željko Heimer, 9 May 2002

Flaggenbuch (1939-1941) [neu92] shows the National flag, but with proportion 2:3 instead of 10:19.
Ivan Sache, 1 June 1999

From National Geographic Magazine (1917.10) [gmc17]

Liberian flag in [gmc17] image by Željko Heimer, 9 May 2002

This flag has the number 764 in the flag number of National Geographic Magazine (1917.10) [gmc17].
Željko Heimer, 10 May 2002


Flag day

In AllAfrica news site it is written that August 24 is the Flag Day holiday in Liberia.
Devereaux Cannon, 27 August 2005