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República Argentina; Argentine Republic

Last modified: 2013-06-17 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: argentina | sun: 32 rays | sun: face | belgrano (manuel) | celeste | ceremonial flag | civil ensign | law | doubt | ratio |
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[Argentine flag] 5:8 [National flag and ensign]
image by Francisco Gregoric, 06 Mar 2011
See also:

About the flag

The Argentine flag was conceived by General Manuel Belgrano, at the place where today is located the city of Rosario.
Felipe Flores Pinto, 23 Feb 1998

There are several theories about the exact design raised by Manuel Belgrano on February 27th, 1812. The same happens with the reason why he chose the colors (white and sky blue).

Apparently there was more than just one design of flag these first years; however, by 1814 triband flags of sky blue-white-sky blue were already in use. None of these first flags did have the sun in the middle yet.

In 1816 this plain triband flag without sun was passed as “bandera menor” (Minor flag) by the Congress in the city of Tucumán.

On February 25th, 1818 the same Congress (located in the city of Buenos Aires at this time) created the war flag by adding the sun in the middle of the white stripe. In this moment the design of the Argentine flag was officially born.
Francisco Gregoric, 23 Nov 2010


In 1944, it was done the first modern effort to regulate and legislate about the Argentine National Symbols (Decree 10,302 of April 24th, 1944). The idea was to standardize criteria and legislate what remained unlegislated. As usual, though, some things were looked over, especially about the flag.

Therefore in 1985 and 1999 new legislation took place. However, some details were left unclarified. For instance, the color of the sun as well as its features, is not described by law, neither that it should appear on both sides of the flag.
Gustavo Tracchia, 23 Sep 2001, translated by António Martins

Presidential decree number 1541 signed by Argentine President Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín on 16 August 1985, and companion law number 23,208 of the same date proved that Argentine citizens have the right to use (tienen derecho a usar) the official national flag (la Bandera Oficial de la Nación), provided it is used with respect and honor. Article 1 of both instruments makes explicit that citizens — not merely the federal, provincial, and territorial governments — have the right to use the Argentine flag containing the sun emblem in the center stripe. Article 2 of these instruments abolishes portions of earlier decrees (25 April 1884, 19 June 1943, and 24 April 1944) that restriced the use of the sun-bearing flag to the military and government agencies and derogated the legal status of the plain flag.

[...] The 1985 law does not abolish the Argentine flag without the sun, which has existed since 1816; rather, the law simply extnds the use of the sun flag to all Argentines, provided it is accorded honor and respect. Additionally, by abolishing certain articles of the 1940s decrees, the 1985 law has the effect of again recognizing the plain triband as an official flag of Argentine national character.

Timothy Boronczyk, 22 Jul 1998, quoting Gustavo Tracchia [tra98]

In 1999 (During Carlos Menem Presidency) a National Decree to define the shade of the colors was established. The ratio was not very precisely defined in that 1999 legislation. For outdoors flags, it said that everything from 2:3 to 1:2 was OK. Therefore a lot of ratios could have been considered OK. For indoors ceremonial flags the 9:14 ratio (90cm×140cm) was established again. The shade of color was defined that time in the CIELAB System. This Menem&39;s Decree was suspended by another National Decree by President Fernando De la Rúa in 2000 and then derogated by a second National Decree by De la Rúa in 2001.

From 2002 to 2004, the Instituto Argentino de Normalización y Certificación (IRAM) published some Normas IRAM (IRAM Standards) that defined technical characteristics of the flag, like ratio, shade of colors and details of the design. These standards are:

  • NORMA IRAM-DEF D 7679: 2002
    Bandera Argentina de ceremonia (Argentine flag for ceremony)
    Características (Characteristics)

  • NORMA IRAM-DEF D 7677: 2002
    Bandera Argentina de izar (Argentine flag for exterior)
    Características (Characteristics)

  • NORMA IRAM-DEF D 7675: 2003
    Bandera Argentina de ceremonia (Argentine flag for ceremony)
    Accesorios (Accesories)

  • NORMA IRAM-DEF D 7674: 2004
    Bandera Argentina (Argentine Flag)
    Características de su confección (Making characteristics)

The official English translations made by IRAM are used above.

The Instituto Nacional Belgraniano worked alongside with IRAM.

On November 23, 2010, the Decree No. 1650/2010 by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was published in the Official Bulletin No. 32,033 of the Argentine Republic.

This decree establishes that the IRAM standards become the official regulation for the Argentine National Flag. Therefore official ratio, shade of colors and exact design of the sun are established.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Aug 2010 & 23 Nov 2010

The plain triband

[Argentine flag] 5:8 [Civil ensign] [Alternate version of the flag]
image by Francisco Gregoric, 06 Mar 2011

Before 1985, the citizens had to use the flag without sun. The flag with sun could be raised just by the government and the Armed Forces.

Nothing was written in the legislation about the ratios of these civil flags.

Presidential decree number 1541 signed by Argentine President Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín on 16 August 1985, and companion law number 23,208 of the same date proved that Argentine citizens have the right to use the Argentine flag containing the sun emblem in the center stripe.

However, after 1985, this plain triband did not disappear.

In 1987, the plain triband was established as an «alternative civil ensign» by Maritime Ordinance No. 5/87 issued by the Naval Prefecture (Coast Guard) on 12 June 1987 (both variants with or without sun are OK for civil boats and ships, according to that regulation).

According to Album des Pavillons, [pay00], 2000, flag without sun emblem is «alternative civil flag and ensign».

However nothing is said on the present day Argentine legislation about the plain triband flag on land, since it is OK for everybody to use the flag with sun (since 1985).

We can add that in Argentina you can buy a "tela bandera" (flag fabric) that is made of one piece with the three stripes of the national flag. Therefore after buying that, you can made your own Argentine plain triband flag in any ratio you like!

Gustavo Tracchia, 22 Jul 1998, Ivan Sache, 26 May 1999, Željko Heimer, 03 Feb 2001, Christopher Southworth, 24 Aug 2008 and Francisco Gregoric, 24 Aug 2008

The shade of colors

The IRAM Standards (made official by Decree No. 1650/2010) define the following shades of colors:

Pantone® colors

Color NamePantone®
Pantone Matching System®
(for coated paper)
Pantone Matching System®
(for uncoated paper)
RGB DecimalRGB HexadecimalPantone®
(Sky Blue)
16-4132 TC 284 C284 U117-170-21975AADBQ 30041
14-1064 TC 1235 C116 U252-191-73FCBF49Q 03021
(Chestnut Brown)
18-1441 TC 1685 C1675 U132-53-17843511Q 12024

CIELAB colors

Color NameCIE 1976 (L*, a*, b*) color space (CIELAB)Maximum Tolerance ΔECMC 2:1: ≤
(Sky Blue)
L*: 67.27 a*: -6.88 b*: -32.23 C*: 32.95 h: 257.961.0
L*: 74.97 a*: 29.22 b*: 81.58 C*: 86.65 h: 70.301.5
(Chestnut Brown)
L*: 44.53 a*: 27.16 b*: 22.48 C*: 35.25 h: 39.621.5

The chestnut brown color is used for the border and face details of the sun.
Francisco Gregoric, 23 Nov 2010

1999-2000 colors

In 1999 (During Carlos Menem Presidency) a National Decree to define the shade of the colors was established in the CIELAB System. This Menem&39;s Decree was suspended by another National Decree by President Fernando De la Rúa in 2000 and then derogated by a second National Decree by De la Rúa in 2001.
Francisco Gregoric, 23 Nov 2010

More about the sky blue color

"Celeste" is spanish for "of the sky" (as in “sky-ish”).
António Martins, 25 Sep 1998

Argentines call the main colour of their national flag celeste (that is colour of the day sky at the normal angles of sight).
Gerardo W. Fischer, 22 Jun 1996

Blue and sky blue were used indistinctly until the Decree no.10302 of April 24th 1944 which defined it as «blue as clear as the sky» [great!]
Santiago Dotor, 15 Jun 1999, translating from this website

A reccomendation of this Academy (1997.04.09), to answer an query from the Chancelry, about the color identification in the Pantone scale, specifies that: «according to it will be chosen from the sampler "Pantone Color Formula GUIDE" the colors Pantone 298 C or Pantone 2995 C which are approximates of the blue shade that corresponds to our flag. Naturally, depending on the quality, texture and kind of surface (dull or bright) there will be visual variations in color perception, but those given above seem to be quite approximative to the requested identification.»
Néstor Poitevin (Argentine History Academy), 20 Aug 1999, translated by António Martins

These Pantones reccomended by the History Academy seem too dark to me, and they do not fit the (1999) official decree about the colors: Cielab L' 64.35 a 7.02 b 29.17 C 30.01 H' 256.47.
António Martins, 11 Oct 1999 and 15 Nov 1999

The height:width ratio

The IRAM rules are official now. Therefore from now on, the official ratio of the Argentine National Flag is 5:8. Following these new standards the indoors ceremonial flags have changed from the old 0,90 m × 1,40 m to the new 0,90 m × 1,44 m.

The 5:8 ratio is almost completely new in Argentina. Before the 2002-2004 IRAM Standards, it was used just once in legislation, by the Maritime Ordinance No. 5/87 issued by the Argentine Naval Prefecture (Coast Guard) on 12 June 1987.

Francisco Gregoric, 23 Nov 2010

Ratios before the IRAM Standards

All my (few) sources disagree upon Argentina's flag proportions:

  • Znamierowski [zna99] says «Proportions unspecified»;
  • The Flagchart 1998 [vdv98], with data from The Flag Research Center, says «9:14»;
  • Banderas y escudos del mundo [a8m86] says «2:3 for the state and war flags and about 2:3 (not legally specified) for the civil flag».
As for every day life, I would say proportions vary a lot, just as if there were not specified, the strips are simply equal width.
Nicolas Rucks, 22 Jan 2000

I have been looking around today and a few days before and I have seen lots of proportions for the celeste y blanca (skyblue and white, the national colors). I have not measured, I guess there were 2:3, 1:2, something in between and even one that was longer than 1:2 (10:25 maybe) but not 1:3.
Nicolas Rucks, 25 May 2000

I have seen yet another proportion for the Argentine flag. It was about 3:4. Again, I didn't mesure, but it certainly was shorter than 2:3 and the sun was right in the middle, so It was not cur or fold or whatever, it was manufactured like that. I must say though, that it is the first time that I see those proportions.
Nicolas Rucks, 26 May 2000

Before the IRAM Standards, the 1:2 ratio was very usual in outdoors flags used in oficial builidings. This ratio was officially defined for the first time in 1884 (during the Presidency of Julio Argentino Roca) for flags to be used in consular buildings abroad.

Then in 1943 the official drawing of the flag made by the internal affairs Ministry was again 1:2, but nothing was written.

In 1957, the Ministry of Education defined the 1:2 ratio for outdoors flags to be used in schools. This ratio regulation was repeated in 1978 by the same Ministry.

The Argentine Navy since the XIX Century has used shorter outdoors ensigns. The 2:3 ratio was the one chosen.

The 9:14 ratio has been the historical one for indoors ceremonial flags since 1895. These flags were 0,90 m × 1,40 m. The sun diameter was 25 cm (rays), and 10 cm (internal).

Francisco Gregoric 14 Aug & 23 Nov 2010

Sun specs

The 2002-2004 IRAM Standards define the exact details of the sun.

Its external diameter (rays) is 5/6 of the central white stripe.

The sun internal diameter (face) is 2/6 (1/3) of the central white stripe.
Francisco Gregoric 14 Aug & 23 Nov 2010

Sun before IRAM Standards

In 1943, the design of the sun was defined for the first time. This was explained again in the the 1944 National Decree of National Symbols. According to this, the sun of the flag should be the same of the first Argentine coins of 1813.
Francisco Gregoric 14 Aug & 23 Nov 2010

The sun's diameter, toghether with the rays and face, cover 4/5ths of the white stripe's height. The ratio between the legth of the rays and the face of the sun is 2 : 2.5 : 2. None of this is legislated, only infered from direct observation of actual flags, set by flag manufators and designers.
Gustavo Tracchia, 23 Sep 2001, translated by António Martins

How to display and carry the flag

When ceremonially carried, the Argentine flag is subject to certain particular and elaborated practices:

  • Flag Apparels:
    The law requires that an Argentine National Pavillion (a carrying flag) shall be:
    • Tied by four sets of double white ribbons to a carrying pole.
    • The carrying pole shall be of a specific national wood (similar to mahogany), 2.10 m tall, tipped with a silver polished metal point and a horizontal crescent.
    • A Cravatte, with a bow and two long tippets, all in the same design as the flag, finished in gold thread, shall be tied to the point. The name of the Army, School, Club, etc. could be embroidered on the tippets. Decorations and medals (if any) are pinned to the cravatte.
    • The Sun of May (which is centered in the white stripe), complete with face and right and flaming rays, shall be embroidered in gold thread, normally with a certain volume or relief in the face.
  • Flag Bearers:
    • The carrying belt is not frontal, but a complete body band, used from left shoulder to waist, made of strong leather and covered with satin flag colours. It shall have an embroidered national coat of arms (not the Sun of May, to avoid confussion with the Presidential badge).
    • The flag bearer shall wear white gloves.
As you can easily imagine, ceremonial flags (which are a must in Schools, Scout Groups, etc) are expensive. In my last check, the full set will cost around US$ 800! Flags are always carried with at least two escoltas (escorts). Flag bearers are usually selected through a careful screening process, and even in schools there is strong competition to achieve the honour.
Sergio Laurenti, 29 Jan 1996

According to art. 4 of the Misiones Province flag law, school parades chose for their national flag carrier the student with best grades.
António Martins, 13 Dec 2001

Argentine Flag Day

The Argentine Flag Day, 20th June, is Belgrano's death anniversary.
Oswaldo Gorgazzi, 01 Jan 2001

The Argentine Flag Day was established on 1938.
Francisco Gregoric, 14 Oct 2012.

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