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República Argentina; Argentine Republic

Last modified: 2024-05-04 by rob raeside
Keywords: argentina | celeste |
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[Argentine flag] 5:8 [National flag and ensign] image by Francisco Gregoric, 06 March 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 February 1998

There are several theories about the exact design raised by Manuel Belgrano on February 27th, 1812. The same is the case 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 had the sun in the middle yet.

In 1816 this plain triband flag without a 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 November 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 unclear. 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 restricted 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 extends 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 July 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 August 2010 & 23 November 2010

The plain triband

[Argentine flag] 5:8 [Civil ensign] [Alternate version of the flag] image by Francisco Gregoric, 06 March 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 November 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 November 2010

More about the sky blue color

"Celeste" is Spanish for "of the sky" (as in “sky-ish”).
António Martins, 25 September 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 June 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."
Santiago Dotor, 15 June 1999, translating from this website

A recommendation of this Academy (1997.04.09), to answer an query from the Chancellery, 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 approximate to the requested identification.»
Néstor Poitevin (Argentine History Academy), 20 August 1999, translated by António Martins

These Pantones recommended 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 October 1999 and 15 November 1999
Esteban Rivera, 1 May 2017

According to the Flag Manual - Beijing 2008, the PMS colors are PMS 102 (yellow), PMS 2915 (blue), and Black. (It was published before the decree.)

Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00] didn’t give any color specification for Argentine flags. The national flag ratio is 2:3, and “Alternative civil flag and ensign” (without sun) is 9:14. There is note for both flags: “ratio between 1:2 and 2:3 and 5:8”.

Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012 [loc12] gives PMS 284 (blue), PMS 1235 (yellow) and PMS 725 (brown). (Only the brown color value differs from officially defined ones.)

There is a new source available for me: Conseil international du sport militaire – CISM Flags Manual 2018 edition gave illustrations of flags (both horizontal and vertical) and also gave PMS codes of colors (similar to Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012). According to CISM Flags Manual 2018 colors are: PMS 284 (blue), PMS 1235 (yellow) and PMS 725 (brown). (Same colors as in Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012.)

The Album des Pavillons 2023 already specifies the colors of the flags in three color systems:
Blue Pantone 659c, CMYK 57-23-0-0, RGB 117-170-219
Brown Pantone 731c, CMYK 31-82-100-37, RGB 91-151-177
Yellow Pantone 1365c, CMYK 0-29-78-0, RGB 252-191-73
All colors are different than official ones, and doesn’t give value for other blue shade of illustrated maritime flags. Flag ratio remains 2:3 for National flag, but “Alternative civil flag and ensign” (without sun) has 9:14 proportions.

Vexilla Mundi gives PMS 284C (blue), PMS White, PMS 116C (yellow) and PMS 1685C (brown).
Flag ratio is 5:8.
Zoltan Horvath, 9 April 2024

But has it always been sky blue?

"Scientists Carlos Della Védova (superior investigator) and Rosana M. Romano (main researcher at CEQUINOR (Centro de Química Inorgánica, in English Inorganic Chemistry Center) at Universidad Nacional de La Plata posing with an Argentine flag after completing a study ( Specialists from the National Scientific and Technical Research Council and CEQUINOR studied fibers from the oldest flag known to exist in Argentina and determined that the blue in that standard was not the celestial blue that Argentines have always considered part of their heritage. The online article was published by Miguel Faigón and other assistant researchers include Rodrigo Stephani and Luis F. Cappa Oliveira, both the Universidade Federal de Juiz Fora.

"This particular flag had a color with blue pigmentation. There's no doubt about that," researcher Carlos Della Vedová told EFE. An analysis using spectrographs and chemical tests determined that the fibers were ultramarine blue, not celestial blue, the scientist said.

The flag, which was found at a church in the northern city of Tucuman was made between 1812 and 1814 at the request of Tucuman Gov. Bernabé Araoz, Della Vedova said. If the analysis and historical research is correct, Argentina's flag should have stripes the color of those on the Tucuman flag, the scientists said.

The study (seen here in a brief video: has been validated by scientific peer review journals abroad, but some historians and experts have criticized the findings and insist that celestial blue should be the stripes' color."

The study provides an RGB version of the 1814, seen here:

It reads from top to bottom:
- "A LA ESCUELA DE SAN FRANCISCO" (English: "To the school of St. Francis")
- "TUCUMAN 1814" (English: Tucuman 1814)
- "DONO" (English: Donated)
- "DON BERNABÉ ARAOZ GOBERNADOR" (English: Mister Bernabé Araoz Governor).

A modern-day interpretation of such flag is also seen here: (source:

The original flag is seen here:
- (source:
Esteban Rivera, 1 May 2017

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 November 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 January 2000

I have been looking around today and a few days before and I have seen lots of proportions for the celeste y blanca (sky-blue 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 measure it, 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 official buildings. 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 August & 23 November 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 August & 23 November 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 August & 23 November 2010

The sun's diameter, together with the rays and face, cover 4/5ths of the white stripe's height. The ratio between the length of the rays and the face of the sun is 2 : 2.5 : 2. None of this is legislated, only inferred from direct observation of actual flags, set by flag manufacturers and designers.
Gustavo Tracchia, 23 September 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 Pavilion (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 cravat.
    • 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 confusion 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 January 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 December 2001

Argentine Flag Day

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

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

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