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Provincial, Island and Municipal Flags (Canary Islands, Spain)

Last modified: 2010-10-08 by eugene ipavec
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Canarian Municipal Flags: Overview

I do not know the ratio of most flags. The ratio of the Canary-flag (w-b-y) seems to be 2:3, that of Tenerife and some municipality flags 3:5. There might also be flags with a ratio of 1:2; e.g. La Orotava. There are three main sources:

  1. Older indoor flags, probably ceremonial flags, which I could photograph in the Military Museum of Sta. Cruz de Tenerife. I compared the colours of the escudos de armas (CoA) with their images in publications of the municipalities and the colours from outdoor flags. I tried to "translate" some of the indoor colours into outdoor colours. So indoor purple became outdoor light blue and indoor gold became outdoor yellow.
  2. Outdoor flags, spotted best at the townhalls.
  3. [las03], Heráldica Institucional de Canarias: a book without ISBN-code, without authors and perhaps made especially for municipalities and other authorities. Mr. Gabriel Perez from the municipality of La Victoria de Acentejo let me take some looks into the local exemplar. Most of the new flags are from this source. I'll describe some flags only as "A white flag with the CoA in its centre."

Although in every CoA the Spanish source says "above all the royal crown," I use the term crown only for closed crowns with bows; for all others leafy or elsewhere open ones I use the term coronet. This is not quite correct, because this distinction was, as far as I know, introduced by Carlos I about 1560 and at least one CoA is definitely older.

Sometimes the official description doesn't match the CoAs in use. In these cases I depict the form in use.

It seems, that there has been a time, when most of the island's municipalities used a plain white cloth with an "escudo de armas" (coat of arms) in its centre. I could see some of these flags on 30 January 2007 in the military museum in Sta. Cruz de Tenerife; the friendly crew unfurled all the municipality flags they had.

Address: Museo Histórico Militar de Canarias; Cuartel de Almeida C/ San Isidro 2; 38001 Santa Cruz (unfortunately no website)

Those municipalities were: Adeje, Arafo, Arico, Arona, Candelaria, El Tanque, Fasnia, Garachico, Guía de Isora, Güimar, Icod de los Vinos, La Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz, San Miguel de Abona, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santiago del Teide, El Sauzal and Tacoronte.

Some of those do so even today. Here is the list of those I am sure of, because I spotted them: Candelaria, La Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Many of the not-so-important municipalities have been granted coloured flags probably without a coat of arms. Small images of the patterns without coat of arms can be seen in "Heráldica Institucional de Canarias [las03]" (called by me HIdC). R. Gabriel Perez from the municipality of La Victoria de Acentejo let me gave me some time to look into it; All the "new" flags are painted according to the versions depicted in HIdC. I cannot claim for sure, but according to HIdC there has been a decree of the President of Canary islands Council, issued 3 December 1991 (Otorgamiento de Bandera: Consejería de Presidencia del Gobierno de Canarias. Orden de 3 de diciembre de 1991 (BOC de 13/01/1992). [BOC is the abbreviation for "Boletín Oficial de Canarias."])

Those municipalities are: Arona, Buenavista del Norte, Fasnia, Granadilla de Abona, Garachico, Guía de Isora, Icod de los Vinos, La Guancha, San Miguel de Abona, Santiago del Teide. I have however only two proofs of flags that are used in that form depicted in HIdC, those are Garachico (image by Santiago Dotor) and San Miguel de Abona (photo from town hall on leaflet of the local tourist board, for further information go to www.sanmigueldeabona.org). I believe that it is the same with Santiago del Teide, because the new flag cannot be used reasonably with a coat of arms in its centre.

Some of the above named municipalities use the pattern depicted in HIdC but they add the coat of arms. Some of these are: La Guancha, Granadilla and Icod de los Vinos.

Some municipalities have coloured flags with the coat of arms, but I don't know any details.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 11 Apr 2007

I succeeded in accumulating new information with help and permission from José Manuel Erbez Rodríguez from San Cristóbal de La Laguna (Tenerife), who has recently started a new website called "Simbolos de Canarias," showing not only the flags but also the CoAs and some additional information about the islands. Since websites are ephemeral, it might be better to refer to his book: Banderas y Escudos de Canarias [ebz07].

There are two types of flags:

  1. a) White flags showing simply the CoA in their centres. They are used unofficially by the municipalities. There is one exception: the capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which flag was granted in 1803 by the Spanish king.
    b) Other unofficial, coloured flags, used by the municipalities: those are Arafo, Los Realejos and Los Silos.
    c) Flags which according to [ebz07] do not exist, i.e. have been probably not used by the municipality's, but there exists at least one exemplar in local military museum.
  2. officially adopted coloured flags, which have according to HIdC no CoA, but which are often used with CoA by the municipality. In fact BOC (Boletin official de Canarias) says, that the municipality's are principally allowed to use their flags also with CoA. The descriptions dealing with the CoA often are not really precise. The worst is La Matanza; here the description of the flag says simply "bicolour." This must be the reason that the Matanzeros are using five different patterns side by side.
The source [las03], for which I use the abbreviation HIdC, is "Heráldica institucional de Canarias," Pedro Lasso, Tenerife, 2003 (ISBN 84-607-9040-1). HIdC only shows images of coloured flags without coats of arms. [ebz07] sometimes shows flags with, sometimes without CoA, depending on the first description given in BOC.

Except Arona all municipalities, according to Erbez's enquiries based on BOC, are allowed to use their flags also WITH CoA.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 21 Mar 2008

In "El Día," Raúl Sánchez gives a detailed account of the municipal flag used in Tenerife island (Canary Islands). The account is based on José Manuel Erbez. The paper version of "El Día" shows a map with all the flags, taken (with permission) from Erbez's book "Banderas y escudos de Canarias."

Out of the 31 municipalities of the island, 29 have a flag, but only 20 have officially adopted their flag. Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1803) and San Cristóbal de La Laguna have the oldest flags. A new batch of municipal flags was designed in 1987-1995: La Matanza de Acentejo (1987), La Guancha and Santiago del Teide (1991), Vilaflor and San Juan de la Rambla (1993), and Tegueste (1995). The next batch (1997-2000) of flags included Granadilla (1997), Arona, Fasnia, Garachico and San Miguel (1998), El Rosario (1999), and Guía de Isora and El Sauzal (2000). Icod approved its flag in 2002, Los Silos in 2003 (replacing an older design) and La Victoria and Arico in 2005.

Since 2005, no new flag has been adopted, while the nine municipalities of Puerto de la Cruz, Adeje, La Orotava, Candelaria, Los Realejos, Tacoronte, Santa Úrsula, Arafo and Buenavista use flags which were never officially adopted. Puerto de la Cruz and Los Realejos started the adoption process, but never completed it.

The two remaining municipalities, El Tanque and Güímar, never had any flag, either official or unofficial. According to Faustino Alegría, Mayor of El Tanque, the Municipal Council adopted in 1998 or 1999 a blue, green and brown flag, but the court rejected it. The same design was approved again by the Municipal Council in 2000 or 2001 but the relevant documentation was lost. Nothing has happened since then.

The most popular colour combination in the municipal flags is white and green, used in five official and one unofficial flags. A white flag with the municipal coat of arms in the middle is the most popular unofficial flag (five flags), but is also the official flag of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the island.

Equal stripes are used in 13 out of the 20 official flags, which include only three monochrome flags, La Laguna, Santa Cruz and Santiago del Teide's. There is only one flag with four colours, Guía de Isora's, and four flags with three colours, Los Silos, Arona, Garachico and El Sauzal's. White is the most popular colour, used in 14 out of the 20 official flags, followed by green, used in ten flags. Including the unofficial flags, white is used in 22 out of the 29 municipal flags.

The only flag using elements taken from the coat of arms to form a new symbol is Santiago del Teide's, with the Cross of Santiago and nine reproductions of the Teide representing the local boroughs. The flag of San Juan de la Rambla has an original design, including five blue wavy stripes.

Erbez believes that the municipalities care more of the coat of arms than of the flag, because "the coat of arms i s required on official documents and has therefore a practical utility, but do not need a flag and do not bother adopting one."

All the municipalities are briefly presented and their symbols are shown on José Manuel Erbez' website.

Source: "El Día," 03 Aug 2008

Ivan Sache, 07 Aug 2008

Visiting Tenerife, I realized that some municipalities are using flags not matching the official pattern according to BOC – respectively, there is permission to vary the official patterns.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 18 May 2009