The 20 Most Beautiful Flags In All The Land


I started thinking about how positively I respond to the concept of "flags" this summer, when it was the Olympics and I had to look at them all the time. The concept of "countries," on the other hand, baffles me- I don't get why we have to have them. I'm pretty disinterested in politics, which confuses people who aren't, but I'm just like, "Listen, guys. I don't think countries should exist. You don't want me to be political." And now shit is about to get even worse because I'm going to start amping up that argument ("argument') with "The only thing I like about countries is flags." And all my friends will roll their eyes and think "Oh my god Laura Jane is an idiot" and I'll be like "Flags are so adorable!"- because flags are so adorable. An adorable concept, all in all: "Let's draw this snappy little picture on some fabric and then waggle it around all over the place and show it to the rest of the world to tell them how much we arbitrarily love the area of land we happened to be born in! And also let's make patches out of it! It's such a cute little picture!" I love it; it's like sticker books, only on a scale too large for me to fully fathom but I'm doing my best. It's like crafts. Is there glitter glue on flags? There may as well be, considering how CUTE flags are.

I'm from Canada, seen above is my flag. The major thing about flags the Olympics helped me realize is how particularly adorable my country's flag is! It has a leaf on it! How spiritually evolved we all are, we Canadians, at one with nature like Siddhartha. That's like the number two thing that has ever made me proud to be Canadian ever after Neil Young. Some countries did a better job of making their flags cute than others. Booyah #canada

Anyway, I've made my "It's cute how the Canadian flag has a leaf on it" point a bunch of times in post-Olympics social situations, because I'm a real fuckin charmer I'll have you know. I was telling my friend Jenn about it a few weeks ago (and she was ENTHRALLED), and the backstory here is that Jenn and I often have this thing happen to us where our hang-outs spiral into out of control Google Image Search seshes where we look up the names of obscure international cities + "downtown" to find out what the cities actually look like; it's great. So that impulse mixed with my mentioning of the word "flag" unsurprisingly took us down a really cool road of Google Image Searching different flags of whichever countries we happened to think of, because that's just the kind of woman I am, the kind of woman I like to pal around with. Women who go out to bars and get drunk and e-research flags on their iPhones. This is why iPhones exist. 

"I should totally blog a list of all the most beautiful flags in the world!" I exclaimed, and then when I got home I found a VERY helpful website entitled "List of countries by population" (It's a Wikipedia page, guys), which was when I learned that there are so many countries! Like, 242. I mean, not like 242, just 242. There are 242 countries in the world, including one called Liechtenstein. This all is mind-blowing! I thought there were 167! I actually thought that, exactly. I thought that was information that I knew for sure. 167 countries. 

I've spent the past couple weeks looking at every single one of the 242 flags that exist and have whittled that list down to a really tight group of 20. (A DISCLAIMER:  I actually had the thought, while writing this post, "Ughhhh some dumbass is SO going to leave me a comment that's all, like, "What about the Swiss flag?", like, trying to impress me with their flag knowledge," but listen up, dumbasses: I left out the Swiss flag for a reason- because it's PLAYED. I'm trying to expose you people to new flags. Everyone in the world loves the Swiss flag. It's yesterday's papers. If you want to look at a picture of the Swiss flag on the Internet, go look at the Swiss Army Knife website. (Hahahaha cool how I'm a "flag snob" now)) I arranged my list in descending order to create a ton of tension for the big reveal of what some weird girl on the Internet's favorite flag is. 

PS: The worst flag in the world belongs to American Samoa. Just so we're all clear about that.


The lil note I wrote down about the Croatian flag during my initial bout of flag e-research reads "FAST & FURIOUS!!!!", which calls a lot of attention to what a weird person I am. Like imagine if when my parents were expecting a baby someone had told them that their daughter would one day grow up to describe the Croatian flag as being "FAST & FURIOUS!!!!"? They'd be like "Oh. Maybe let's give her away." 

What I meant, though, is that this flag reminds me of Fast & Furious the movie. Is Fast & Furious about "motocross"? Sort of? This flag also reminds me of motocross. It looks like a racecar driver's jacket, or like some sort of logo that would be on the side of a plastic cup that someone got for free at a NASCAR event in the late 1980s. Only it's cuter, because it's a flag! I like the little pictures inside the five points of the checkerboard's crown. What is the middle point? Is it little stars or dust bunnies with faces? And then next to it is a cute goat? Well that's fucking AWESOME. Fucking awesome fucking job, Croatia. 


Oooooohhhhhh that cute THING in the middle!!!! It's an opticalllll illuuuuuuussssionnnnn!!!

Nice. Cool choice, India, taking the optical illusion road. That's probably what I would do, if I were a flag designer. I would specialize in optical illusion flags. I'd make a Magic Eye flag.


The Guatemalan flag is actually pretty sub-par on a lot of levels, and it would be annoying as fuck to have to learn how to draw that complicated crest with a bird thing as a kid. However, the Guatemalan flag is my 18th favorite flag in the world because of what it says on the little picture of a scroll that you can't read: Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821. Okay, imagine if you were Guatemalan and your birthday was September 15th??? You'd be like "Shit! My life is so fucking cool! My BIRTHDAY is on my country's FLAG." I mean, even NOT being Guatemalan and being born on September 15th, that's still pretty cool that there's a flag in the world with your birthday on it. 


As a judge on Project Runway might say, "It looks expensive." 


I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what that little thing on the lefthand side is. My initial thought was, "It's 2% vaginal," and then I wondered if it was a woman's freshly-manicured fingernail set on fire, which is also kind of vaginal, conceptually, and then I looked it up and it turns out it's....

A clove of nutmeg! (Too cute.)


No bells, no whistles. Just a cool, simple, semi-weird, vaguely-metal-looking flag done RIGHT.




The strongest instance of flag-minimalism in the world (LITERALLY!). Like ughhh nice try France and Italy and Ireland and all you boring three vertical bars flag countries, the Ukraine just showed you fools how it's DONE. 


I think that the Greenland flag should be the new Swiss flag, for the world. It's way weirder and cuter and cooler. It's sort of like the Swiss flag and the Japanese flag had a baby and the baby was the Greenland flag. I like the idea of Greenland as a country being a synthesis of Switzerland and Japan- not in terms of culture, but in terms of vibes. 


Because that gun thing in the corner totally looks like it belongs on the cover of a Clash single, and I like how its take home message is "WE WILL MOTHERFUCKING KILL YOU IF YOU COME AFTER OUR BOOKS." Literacy!


A four year old's bathing suit, a beach towel, a plastic pail. God have you ever checked out how BEAUTIFUL the turquoise water of Seychelles is? It's insane and I am there in my head right now holding a coconut in either hand- one would contain an alcoholic beverage, perhaps a fresh new take on pina colada (maybe a MANGO pina colada!!! or MANGO JALAPENO, since in 2012 drinks suddenly all have jalapeno in them constantly), the other would be a bong. It sucks how my major association with the word "Seychelles" has always been the footwear brand featured in the dELiA*s catalogue and Seventeen magazine circa 1998 instead of literally Paradise with the tenth-most-beautiful flag in the world that is also the #1 cutest and #1 I'd most like to own in tote bag form.


Seeeeee????? CRAFTS. Cute little craft project you put up the side of your flag, Belarus. Is it mittens? It looks so much like mittens. PS: Check out more of Belarus's cute crafts at Belarus' new etsy store, http:///www.etsy.com/shop/belarus 


Kind of like a next-level Belarus? It's like the Kazakhstan flag was made by the Belarus flag-designer ten years after he (or she!) made the Belarus flag. A more mature offering from noted flag designer Blah-blah-blah of Belarus flag fame. The detailing up the side is much more intricate this time round. Also, sweet Preppy Handbook color scheme. Also, I'm so very proud of myself for finally learning how to spell Kazakhstan today. After all these years! THE H COMES AFTER THE SECOND K. 


I love this guy! This Colorforms totem pole! "Mr. Mongolia" I call him. His tummy is a yin-yang, and his hat is fire. Damn. 

He's called a soyombo, Mr. Mongolia- it's just a cute coincidence that I think he looks like a dude. A dude with a beard wearing a starched collar, like a king. But nope there are no collars; he's actually a "columnar arrangement of abstract and geometric representations of fire, sun, moon, Earth, water, [and yin-yang]," so that's lovely that his collar is the moon. I wish my collar was the moon. (I do! I wish that so bad!) Anyway, those are such important things for humans to columnar arrange and I love abstract representations of shit b/c I'm cray. Way to not take your flag LITERALLY like every other dunce country in the world, beautiful artist Mongolia. More cool facts about the Mongolian flag= the blue band represents "the eternal blue sky" (I love the sky so much, like Mongolia loves the sky), and then the red bands represents Mongolia's ability to thrive in a harsh natural environment. Everything about the Mongolian flag communicates that Mongolia really GETS IT. I feel like Mongolia and I are on the same level, and I'm extremely proud of Mongolia for everything. For abstraction, and for thriving. 


Looks like a) Soviet Space Race propaganda and/or b) a baseball diamond at night seen from the perspective of a five year old boy in 1953.


K, first of all- weird that the Isle of Man is a COUNTRY? I feel like I just found out that Martha's Vineyard is a country. Equally shocking stuff. I just checked the Wikipedia for the Isle of Man and learned that its population is 80,058 and then looked at Isle of Man on Google Image for like fucking ever and kind of teared up at one point because I feel so spiritually connected to this thing called Castle Rushen. If I don't cut myself off now I'm about to write 5000 words about my heart's relationship with the United Kingdom ££££££££££££ but, you know, I think I've written enough words about flag-things as it is. 

Like India, the Isle of Man has gone in an optical illusion direction with its flag, although this one's more of a conceptual, or psychological, optical illusion. It really makes you think about what life is like, and it's got a cool jester feel to it. Do you think a lot of bros from the Isle of Man have a tattoo of this three-legged man wheel with spurs? Or are there even bros on the Isle of Man at all? I feel like there are no bros. 


There's really not all that much I can say about the Swaziland flag; the Swaziland flag speaks for itself. "Ooh la la," I guess, are the major words that come to mind. And KOOKOO. And GORGEOUS. 


The beautiful Bangladesh flag is one of the flags that Jenn and I looked up while we were at the bar that night, and I don't mean to be a show-off about "I KNOW A LOT OF WORDS" but I do know a fair amount of words (I'm a writer, so it would be kind of sad if I didn't) and there are some of them that I spend every day of my whole life wishing something would just be so I can use it in writing without sounding like a show-off about "I KNOW A LOT OF WORDS," and I'm so happy the Bangladesh flag is august.  

I love the dull, muted Christmas colors, and I love that the blood red sun rising over the land of Bengal is slightly off-center; it's perfect. When Jenn and I were looking at the Bangladesh flag on my phone at the bar we were confused about if or why the sun is slightly offset, and then we learned that it's a trick- the sphere only looks properly centred when the flag is flapping in the wind. And I think it's so cool that the Bangladesh flag designers are the only flag designers in the world clever enough to have figured that out, all the rest of us fools thinking that if you put something in the middle of something it'll look like what it is and what you did.


Um WHIMSICAL much, Gibraltar??? My first thought upon seeing the DAZZINGLY CHARMING Gibraltar flag, which I extra-wanted to be good because John & Yoko got married there and that MEANS something to me (thanks for delivering, Gibraltar), was that it looks like it should have been on the cover of one of Suzy's books from Moonrise Kingdom,  but then I was like oh wait nope what it looks like is the cover of an ACTUAL children's book from the 1960s, not just a shitty approximation that Wes Anderson invented!!!

Anyway, I would totally love to write a 1960s children's book based around the flag of the Gibraltar. It's such an adorable mystery! What is the house??? What is the magical house?? What is the key?? I know I could look up all this information on Wikipedia right now if I wanted but I'd rather keep Gibraltar sacred and make up castle stories in my head tonight. Please never tell me what the key is for ever.


I like cuteness, opulence, and whimsy. I like spurs, optical illusions, yin-yangs, and off-center suns. I like motocross, metal, minimalism, maximalism, 1960s children's books, and cloves of nutmeg. But more than I like any of those flag-things, or any of the other non-flag-things I like, I like rock and roll, and the Saudi Arabian flag- in addition to being bold and strong and sexy and featuring a sword and WOW and unfuckwithable, is one of the most intensely, and perfectly, rock and roll-looking things I've ever seen. (What do you think the text says? Clash lyrics, maybe?) It's just so cool, the COOLEST, effortlessly cool. Like Keith! It's the Keith Richards of flags. 


  1. I love this post/flags/how you're a flag snob now/Isle of Man's flag. I used to hate the Canadian flag when I was a kid, because who the hell can draw a maple leaf? But now I love it again, thank you.

    What do you think of the Corsican flag? I also enjoy the Welsh flag. DRAGONS.

    1. thanks! my new thing is going to be getting into sailing flags.

      corsica is really weird and beautiful! but it didn't come up on the list because it's not a country.

  2. i love this post! personally, i would rank the lion + knife combo from sri lanka in the top three.

    the capital of isle of man is douglas. i bet there are some bros clustered up in douglas, doing a coffee grinder move just as their flag suggests.

    as a geography student i feel like i should point out that most political entities (and geographers) recognize 196 countries. there are lots of sovereign nations and other sorts of territories that aren't easily defined. but, as you are totally aware, the whole concept is bunk and arbitrary.

    1. thank you for clearing this up, kate!

  3. Agree with all of these. Iran, Bhutan, Prussia, are cool too

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