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Historical Flags Since 1932 (Syria)

Last modified: 2014-03-09 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: syria | stars: 3 (red) | stars: 2 (green) | stars: 3 (green) | damascus | latakia | aleppo | alexandretta | hatay | jebel druze | united arab republic | coat of arms | hawk of quraish | pan-arab colours | fin flash |
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1932 (Autonomy) – 1946

[Syrian flag 1946-58 and 1961-63] 2:3 or 5:8
image by Eugene Ipavec, 09 May 2007

Flag adopted 11th June 1932

Green-white-black horizontal tricolor with three red five-pointed stars pointing downwards, ratio 2:3. According to [National Geographic 1934, the stars should be upward and the ratio 5:8, but maybe they got the flag from Syrians already preparing/wishing for independence. Maybe the autonomous republic was proclaimed in 1934. The flag adopted had a ratio 1:2 (see [Flagsmaster, last issue [c.1998], flag of 1936). It was first hoisted in Aleppo [nowadays Khaleb] on January 1st, 1932 and in Damascus on June 11th. The three stars stood for the districts that formed the Republic: Aleppo, Damascus and Deir es Zor.
Elections were held in 1932 and a Treaty acceptable to both parties was concluded in 1936, adding Latakia (including Alexandretta) and Jebel Druze to the 'Republic'. The stars then stood for Aleppo with Damascus and Deir es Zor (one), Jebel Druze (one) and Latakia (one).
On 2nd September 1938 the French turned the Alexandretta district into the autonomous Republic of Hatay. It was thereafter handed to Turkey on 23rd June 1939.
During the Second World War, after invading Vichy-governed Syria, General Catroux proclaimed the independence of Syria in September 1941. The French troops evacuated Syria in May 1945.
(The above is a summary from several contributors, see Sources and Credits.)

António Martins-Tuválkin pointed out that the single reference to National Geographic, September 1932 issue is the above one, and suggested that it might be an error and really refer to [National Geographic 1934. I asked Antonio Gutiérrez – who had sent a complete list of National Geographic Magazine flag bibliography – whether he could match that description with what appears in the September 1934 issue. Follows a summary of his findings up to now:

This is what appears about Syria in [National Geographic 1934:
462. SYRIA (FRENCH MANDATE).- This flag was first officially hoisted in Damascus (Damas) on June 11, 1932, but it had previously been flown in Aleppo (Alep), January 1, 1932. The late king Feisal, when becoming King of Syria in 1920, unfurled a Hashimite banner of which the present flag is a modification. The green represents the Omayyad caliphates, the white stands for the Abbasside dynasty, and the black proclaims the early Islamic era. The three vilayets of Damascus, Aleppo, and Deir ez Zor are supposed to be represented by the three stars.
The flag is illustrated, but this issue's drawings seem not to follow official ratios, and flag sizes appear to be somewhat arbitrary. The flag of Syria appears with an approximate ratio in between 2:3 and 5:8, with the stars pointing upwards. There are no flag articles in the September 1932 issue, but possibly there is a mention to the Syrian flag in some other article. More to come.
One further doubt. Since these Syrian historical flags pages contain basically a compilation of several contributions, there is no way to tell out who reported the 1932-1946 Syrian flag with stars pointing downward. Can anybody support this?
Santiago Dotor, 15 Dec 1999

The following is an extract from [Corre 2000 ([Franciae Vexilla, #19/65, September 2000). I have tried to stick to the text as tightly as possible (no interpretation). Possible errors come either from the original text or loose translation from French:

7. Republic of Syria, 1932

The flag hoisted in Aleppo on 1 January 1932 was an horizontally divided green-white-black, 1:2 flag, charged with three red five-pointed stars in the white stripe. The stars may have represented the three administrative subdivisions of Damascus, Aleppo, and Deir-ez-Zor.

(Original source: Encyclopaedia Americana, 'Flag', p. 323. The flag is dated there from 11 June 1932, which correspond to its first hoisting in Damascus; Album des Pavillons, 1932; Flaggenbuch, 1936).

Ivan Sache, 03 Feb 2001


1946 (Independence) – 1958

[Syrian flag 1946-58 and 1961-63] 1:2
image by Eugene Ipavec, 09 May 2007

Green-white-black horizontal tricolour with three red five-pointed stars pointing upwards, ratio 1:2.
Source: National Geographic, February 1951


1958-1961

[Syrian flag 1958-1961] 2:3
image by Eugene Ipavec, 09 May 2007

Syria and Egypt united on 22nd February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. Red-white-black horizontal tricolor with two green stars.


1961-1963

[Syria 1946-58 and 1961-63] 1:2
image by Eugene Ipavec, 09 May 2007

Syria left the union with Egypt (UAR) on 28th September 1961 and reverted to the 1946-58 flag.
Several contributors

In September 1961 Syria revolted, and on 29 September the old flag of Sirya was raised as national flag. This is also tricolor of horizontal stripes, green white and black (stand for Rashid, Ummayad and Abassid dinasties who ruled Sirya in the past). In the center of the flag are three red stars which stand for the Arab revolutions (although certain Western sources clain thay represent Damascus, Aleppo and Deir ez Zor). Egypt continues using the United Arab Republic flag.
Ratio in picture is 37:76. Stars position: 50 between 76 together; 12 first one and 11 each one of the others, separation is 7 from the first to second and 8 for the second to third. [From] hoist to first star is 14, and [from] latest star to fly is 13. Basically they are centered in the central band (1 above and 1 below, and 11 is height of the star). Central stripe is 13 and upper and lower 12 between 37. Source: [The Flag Bulletin issue 2.
Jaume Ollé, 17 Apr 2001

These dimensions were not explicitly written on [The Flag Bulletin, rather Jaume Ollé measured them out. If I understood them correctly, the construction sheet would look something like this:

 ______________________________________
|  |
|  | 12
|______________________________________|
| 12  11  11   |
 37 |14*   7   *   8   *13 | 13
|______________________________________|
|  |
|  | 12
|______________________________________|
  76
I find these dimensions quite assymetrical. The overall ratio 37:76 looks like a mistaken approximation to 1:2.
Santiago Dotor, 18 Apr 2001

Regarding dimensions in Syrian flags, from my own experience during a trip to Syria and Jordan in 1997 I can say that at least now no one cares for dimensions in the Syrian flag – if it is a red-white-black triband with two green stars in the white stripe, it is a Syrian flag, regardless of the size or position of the stars. I am quite sure that in former times (e.g. 1961-1963), when Syria was in more or less constant political turmoil, it was even worse. So do not put too much trust in official publications or drawings in flag journals based on official publications, even if it is [The Flag Bulletin.
Marcus Schmöger, 19 Apr 2001


1963-1972

[Syria 1963-1972] 2:3
image by António Martins-Tuválkin

The Ba'ath party made a coup d'état in 1963. Red-white-black horizontal tricolor with three green stars.


1972-1980

[Syria 1972-1977 (Federation of Arab Republics)] 2:3
image by Željko Heimer and Santiago Dotor

Syria joined Egypt and Libya on 1st January 1972 to form the Federation of Arab Republics. They adopted the same flag, with minor variations, for the three countries: red-white-black horizontal tricolour with the hawk of Quraish (the tribe of Mohammad) looking to the hoist (at the right side) [?] on the white band with a small inscription of the name of the federation below. Unlike Egypt or Lybia, the name of the country did not appear below the scroll.
The Federation of Arab Republics ended March 1977, but Syria retained the flag for another three years.


Since 1980

Reintroduction of the United Arab Republic flag of 1958-1961, ratio 2:3 (current flag).