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The History and Meaning of Liechtenstein's Flag

Posted by Michael Green on

Liechtenstein - Worth the visit?

I got up before the sun was out, jetlagged as *%€¥, but still excited because I got to visit somewhere I had wanted to go for a very long time.

There’s no airport in Liechtenstein, so the only way to visit is basically via Switzerland. Luckily it’s on the Swiss public transit network so it's super easy and included if you have a swiss travel pass.

I got the first train from Zurich and arrived around 8am or so. Got off the bus and was struck by...nothing. No one. It was deserted. Using google maps, I found the one coffee shop that was open that early (though I'm used to Europe being filled with bustling coffee shops at this hour) and found the other five people awake in the tiny capitol of Vaduz. 

I spent the day filming this video and basically saw everything Vaduz had to offer. Was on the train back to Zurich around 3 and what a train ride it was (in the daylight this time)!

The Spicy Olympics of 1936

As you could probably have guessed, one of my favorite parts of the Olympics is the opening ceremonies. Every two years, you get to see countries parade their flags, their national symbols and colors in what I think is one of the healthiest displays of nationalism. The 1936 Summer Olympics was a very special one for plenty of reasons. Other than the fact it was held in Nazi Germany, the opening ceremonies had a little drama. 

Picture this, August 1st, 1936, the sole athlete from Haiti enters the arena with a bicolor flag of two horizontal bands of blue and red. Shortly after, the tiny country of Leichtenstein enters with flag of two horizontal bands of blue and red… 

It was only then, at that Olympics in 1936, that both nations realized THEY HAD THE SAME FLAG! 

Liechtenstein and Haiti had the same bicolor flag

The next year, Leichtenstein decided to add a crown to the canton of their flag to differentiate it from Haiti and also highlight the fact they are a principality. 

Did I have to travel all the way to Leichtenstein to tell you that story? Well no, but let’s learn a little more about one of the smallest countries on earth and it’s flag. 

Liechtenstein's Flag History

Liechtenstein was formed in 1719 as a principality within the Holy Roman Empire. It’s original flag was a yellow and red horizontal bicolor which is still used as the Banner of the Princely House of Leichtenstein. 

Yellow and red coat of arms for the princely house of Leichtenstein on a sign at the border with Switzerland

It gained complete independence in 1866, and somewhere around that time, the colors blue and red were selected to represent the area. The blue represents the sky, while red alludes to the "evening fires" that are lit inside houses throughout the country. A bicolor with vertical bars was used until 1921.

It was then the Principality got a new constitution and proclaimed the blue and red banner with horizontal stripes the national flag by granting it "official status". The crown, added in 1937, epitomizes the "unity of the people and their price."

Leichtenstein's modern flag

Here’s something that is a bit unique about the flag of Leichtenstein. In 1982, four versions of the flag were officially mentioned in law. A standard flag, a hand flag, a triangular pennant, a vertical banner. I don’t know many other countries that have official vertical banners like this.

Leichtenstein's vertical banner with a banner of the princely house of Leichtentstein
The 11 municipalities of Liechtenstein all have their own flags, but interestingly, they are all long vertical banners which is something I’ve never seen before. I wish I could stick around and go visit all 11, but had a train to catch.

The banners of Leichtenstein's 11 municipalities

I’m so glad I came because Liechtenstein is a beautiful place with a pretty cool flag that I’m adding to my collection. I hope you’re enjoying this flag explainer series as much as I enjoy making them for you.

I’m Michael from Flags For Good, I’ll see you next time.

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