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South Africa

Republic of South Africa, Republiek van Suid-Afrika, IRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika, IRiphabliki yaseMz

Last modified: 2013-01-11 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa |
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[Flag of South Africa] [Variant] 2:3~ image by Mark Sensen and Antonio Martins, 09 Mar 2000
Flag adopted 27 Apr 1994 See also: For all other South African pages see:

Origin and colours of the new flag

The strips are red/orange and blue, the same of the previous flag. The added colors are the same of African National Congress's flag, which is composed of three equal horizontal strips: black, green and yellow. Therefore I argue that the new flag is the merge of the two flags. Apart from strips' colors (orange and blue instead of red and green), the colour of the second fimbration (green instead of black) and the absence of a coat in the triangle, the new South African flag is very similar to Vanuatu's.
Giuseppe Bottasini

C-SPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network), reporting on the election in South Africa, showed the "interim" flag which will be used for the next five years; the new parliament will choose a permanent flag. In English blazon, it is: Tierced in pairle couchy sable, gules and azure, a pairle couchy vert fimbriated or to dexter and argent to chief and base.

I think the interim flag for South Africa is said to be composed of the colours of flags of past administrations. Which is as plausible as anything, since it includes all the heraldic tinctures.
Anton Sherwood

The current South African flag was designed by Mr Fred Brownell, State Herald of South Africa.
Bruce Berry, 26 Mar 1999

Colour Specifications
Album 2000 gives the official (Pantone) and approximate (CMYK) specifications as follows:

Red:            179c         C0-M90-Y90-K0
Green:       3415c         C100-M0-Y80-K20
Yellow:     1235c          C0-M25-Y80-K0
Blue: Reflex Blue c        C100-M80-Y0-K0

Ivan Sache, 15 Jan 2002

The South African flag pantones as I have them are:

Uncoated surfaces:                        Coated surfaces:
Blue:      287u                                     288c
Red:       485u (x2)                             485c
Yellow:  116u                                     1235c
Green:    355u                                     349c
Source: SA Bureau of Standards - Specifications for the National Flag, 2nd ed.
Bruce Berry, 21 Jan 2002

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual, London, 2012 [bib-lna.html]) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each National Olympic Committee was sent an image of their flag, including the PMS shades, by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) for their approval. Once this was obtained, the LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specifications may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the National Olympic Committee believed their flag to be.

For South Africa : PMS 179 orange/red, 3415 green, reflex blue, 1235 yellow and black. The vertical flag is the horizontal version reversed and turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise - black at the top, orange/red on the left, blue on the right.
Ian Sumner, 10 Oct 2012

Symbolism of the flag

The colours of the South African flag do not really have symbolic meanings in themselves.  People do sometimes assign meanings to the colours (such as red for blood, yellow for mineral wealth etc.) but this is not the case with the current South African flag.  According to Mr. Frederick Brownell, the former State Herald who played a large role in the original design, while the colours of the flag do not have any official symbolism, they do represent a synopsis of the country’s flag history.  The design in turn, represents a converging of paths, the merging of both the past and the present.

Black, gold and green, which were first incorporated into South African national flags in the 19th century, also feature prominently in the flags of the liberation movements, particularly the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-African Congress (PAC) and Inkatha.  These colours can thus be said to broadly represent the country's black population.

Blue, white, red and green reflect the British and Dutch (later Boer) influence, as shown in the earliest flags flown in South Africa, and also featured prominently in the old South African National Flag (1928-1994) and thus represent the white population of South Africa.

The green pall (the Y-shape) is commonly interpreted to mean the unification of the various ethnic groups and the moving forward into a new united South Africa.

The South African flag is the only national flag to contain six colours as part of its primary design (excluding those flags which contain various colour shades as part of the detail of coats of arms or other charges etc.).
Bruce Berry
, 14 Feb 2000

The History and Heritage Section of the South Africa.Info web site has a lengthy section on the present flag of the Republic of South Africa, with some interesting information.  The flag material is entitled 'Fly, the beloved flag,' a very clever play on the title of Alan Paton's novel 'Cry, the Beloved Country,' one of the first works in English to describe the former apartheid state.
Ron Lahav, 12 Nov 2008