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Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, Gana Prajatantri Bangladesh

Last modified: 2023-06-10 by zachary harden
Keywords: bangladesh | ensign | disk: red |
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[Flag of Bangladesh] image by Željko Heimer
Flag adopted 13 January 1972, coat of arms adopted February 1971.

See also:

Civil and State Flag

Red disc on green field. The disc is set slightly toward the hoist so that when the flag is flying it will appear to be in the center. Many illustrations (and probably actual flags, too) have the circle in the center in error, for example, the British Admiralty's Flags of All Nations - 1989. I do not know if the circle was centered when it also included the yellow map of the country. At home I have an example of a Bangladeshi postage stamp ca 1971 with the map on the flag, and I think it shows the circle in the center.
Nick Artimovich, 26 August 1997

The red circle should actually be shifted towards the hoist since 1972. The previous flag (1971-1972) had a centered red disc with a yellow map silhouette of Bangladesh.
Jan Zrzavy, 26 August 1997

The national flag is bottle green in color and rectangular in size with the length to width ratio of 10:6 bearing a red circle on the body of the green. The red circle has a radius of one fifth of the length of the flag. Its center is placed on the middle of the perpendicular drawn from the nine twentieth part of the flag. The background colour symbolizes the greenery of Bangladesh with its vitality and youthfulness while the red disc represents the rising sun and the sacrifice our people made to obtain our independence.
      Prescribed sizes of the flag for buildings are 305cm x 183cm, 152cm x 91cm and 76cm x 46cm and for vehicles are 38cm x 23cm and 25cm x 15cm.
Collected from by Dov Gutterman, 23 December 1998.

(See also the Construction Sheet)
Santiago Dotor
, 26 February 2001

Origin of the Flag

Modified from

"The national flag of Bangladesh was a product first conceived by painter Quamrul Hasan. On the 3rd March 1971, ASM Abdur Rab the then VP of Dhaka University Students' Union had the honour of hoisting the first flag of independent Bangladesh at the Dhaka University premises popularly known as Bat-tala.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman hoisted the flag of independent Bangladesh at his residence, 32 Dhanmondi R/A, at the outskirt of Dhaka, on the 23rd March 1971. It was an unknown Awami League worker who hoisted the first flag of independence at the historical meeting at the then Ramna Race-course on the 7th March 1971 where Sheikh Mujib tacitly called for armed struggle against Pakistani occupation Army.

For Quamrul Hasan, making and shaping of the flag needed several months to complete. Unique features of the first flag of independent Bangladesh were the absence of the crescent and star (as in the Pakistan's flag), symbol of the Islamic states. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Bangalees dreamed for the secular Bangladesh.

The red circular disc with map of Bangladesh symbolizes blood of thousands of Bangalis killed by the Pakistanis since 1947 in the Golden Bangla. The green backdrop, needless to say, symbolizes the vitality, youthfulness, greenery and of course symbolizes also our land as agrarian since the pre-Vedic age. Many western writers have written an interpretation of the green backdrop of the Bangladesh flag as the colour of Islam which is essentially wrong information.

Please note the Lonely Planet's Bangladesh 1996 edition. Here the author wrongly writes "First flown officially from the rebel Bangladesh embassy in Calcutta when the War of Liberation began". Writing partially correct "The Bangladesh flag is green for the lush country, not for Islam, as some fundamentalists would prefer". The CIA World Factbook 1997 has also made the same mistake!

The present flag, quite different from the first one, is bottle green in the background, voided of the golden-coloured map of Bangladesh, rectangular in size in the proportion of length to width 10:6. The red circle has a radius of one-fifth of the length of the flag. The red circle's centre is placed on the intersecting point of the
perpendicular drawn from the nine-twentieth part of the length and the horizontal line drawn through the middle of its width.

The flag of Bangladesh was first hoisted in the UN September 1974. China used her veto against admission of Bangladesh in the UN 1972 and repeated in the year 1973. The Bangladesh flag appeared later in the UN's stamp series "Flag of the member state".

"A Bangladeshi now living in exile in Sweden Mr. Mahbubul Haque had the rare opportunity of being actively involved in the Flag Hoisting ceremony of independent Bangladesh at Bat-Tala premises of Dhaka University on the 3rd March 1971. According to him the more radical wing of the Bangladesh Chatra League led by ASM Abdur Rab hastily arranged an extra emergency meeting at Madhu's Canteen in the midnight between 2nd and 3rd March 1971 of the executive committee of BCL (Rab). As the time was passing very fast and the then Pakistani military junta led by Gen. Yahya Khan ordered inflow of the Pakistani Army to Dhaka at a rate of one Boeing 707 filled with Pakistani soldiers every day.

Anticipating the imminent Pakistani onslaught, Rab reasoned that there was no other alternative than hoisting the National flag of independent Bangladesh at 11:00 hrs on the 3rd March and in the afternoon Swapan Choudhury of BCL (Rab) would read the proclamation of the Independence of Bangladesh. Swapan Choudhury died later in a combat action during the war of liberation 1971. Rab hoisted the flag as it was planned in the emergency meeting of the Bangladesh Chatra League (Rab), he did not forget to burn the Pakistani flag seconds before he hoisted the flag of Bangladesh. The author of the text asked ASM Rab during a river cruise with him at the Karnaphuli river in Chittagong, November 1996 if he still possessed the same flag at his collection. He remained silent.

Mahbubul Haque was then a BCL(Rab) activist, organised active participation of students of Dhaka College in the armed struggle against the Pakistani occupation army 1971. He now lives with his family in the outskirt of Stockholm. ASM Abdur Rab is now minister of shipping and river transport of the Bangladesh Government."

It is not clear who exactly is the author, but it may be Prof. Kaiser (text editor), see ("about us", bottom of page)

Jan Mertens, 4 November 2003

Civil Ensign

[Bangladesh Civil Flag] image by Željko Heimer

Red, with the national flag in canton.
Jan Zrzavy, 16 January 1998

Marine Fisheries Academy

[Marine Fisheries Academy (Bangladesh)]
image by Zachary Harden, 07 July 2018

An orange/saffron flag with the national flag in the canton. (Source: Marine Fisheries Academy website)
Zachary Harden, 07 July 2018

1971 Flag

[Bangladesh 1971 Flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 29 May 1999

The first flag of Bangladesh. I don't know what the official proportions were, but I have used 2:3 as it seems reasonable to assume that the Pakistani practice would have continued for a while. Someone quoted Whitney Smith as saying that the map was omitted because of the difficulty involved in displaying it correctly on both sides. I have some doubts about this explanation: Cyprus has overcome the problem of a two-sided flag, as has Saudi Arabia. Another explanation suggests itself: namely, that the map may have been an unpleasant reminder of the partition of Bengal.
Vincent Morley, 1 September 1997

The first flag of the independence movement. The flag initially had the the map of Bangladesh in gold in the center of the red circle. This was the original design of the flag of Bangladesh that the valiant freedom fighters fought under during the liberation war. On the 3rd March 1971, ASM Abdur Rab, the then VP of Dhaka University Students´ Union hoisted the flag for the first time at the historic Dhaka University location known as "bawt-tawla". This flag was also raised at the then Dhaka Race Course at then Ramna Racecourse (now Shuhrawardy Uddayan) when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave his historic speech proclaiming "this struggle is the struggle for liberation."
      (The "bawt-tawla" incidentally means the shade of the banyan tree in Bengali. This was, and still is, a popular meeting place for activist students of the University of Dhaka.)
Collected from by Dov Gutterman, 23 December 1998.

On 28 September 2008, the PTI (Press Trust of India) Agency reported yet another hypothesis:
"A map of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, was included in the hurriedly prepared flag of the newborn nation as suggested by Indira Gandhi, according to veteran photo journalist Shahidul Alam. "It was on the insistence of then Indian premier Indira Gandhi that the map of East Pakistan was included in the flag, so as to make sure that people do not confuse the Indian state of West Bengal with war-ridden east Bengal," Shahidul, recently in India for an exhibition of his photographs, says.
"West Bengal was a part of India and people on either side of the border were sentimental of the word 'Bengal'. The map of Bangladesh was inserted to avoid any confusion among the populace," he says. Such a motif was aimed to give a flip to the 'Muktiyoddhas' (liberation warriors) as well, although there can be no denial of the fact that it was a sad reminiscent of partition of Bengal during British colonisation."
Ivan Sache, 4 October 2008

As I recall, Indira Gandhi's concern was that if the war between Pakistan and the Bangladeshis had gone on any longer, the people of West Bengal might rise and form a Bengali national movement, pushing for reunification of the whole of Bengal. It was for this reason that the Indian Army invaded East Pakistan. In providing a map, she was making it clear (to those who were able to interpret it) that the flag represented the former East Pakistan, and not West Bengal. The map was as likely dropped as much because people could not relate to the map, as for clarity of design.
Mike Oettle, 5 October 2008

I noticed at the cricket test series between New Zealand and Bangladesh quite a few of the spectators at the ground using the old Bangladeshi flag, the one with the golden map on the red disk. It must still be a popular flag locally. Is it still regarded as an official variant?
James Dignan, 20 October 2008

Reverse of 1971 Flag

[Bangladesh 1971 Flag - reverse] by Jorge Candeias, 29 May 1999

I believe the map ought to be correct on both sides. Pedersen refers to the difficulty of rendering the map correct on both sides of the flag leading to dropping the map.
Ole Andersen, 25 May 1999

Erroneous 1971 flag reports

[Bangladesh 1971 Flag - erroneous] image by Falko Schmidt

Browsing in my files I found a flag, published in an East German journal (NBI - Neue Berliner Illustrierte 13/73) and illustrated here. I don't know, if this flag was ever used. Can anyone help?
Falko Schmidt, 29 September 2001

This flag is similar to one that I found on a flag plate in Dicionário Enciclopédico Koogan Larousse Selecções (Encyclopedic Dictionary Koogan Larousse Selecções), vol. 1. The disc is a lot smaller and it's not red, rather somewhere between purple and pink (lilac?). This colour isn't due to some glitch in the printing of the source, since adjacent flags that have red in them are perfectly normal (see image here). If so, and given the lack of any evidence (at least so far) that such a design was used, then I guess it is a case of perpetuating an error from one source to another.  It appears to be erroneous.
Jorge Candeias, 2 October 2001, 6 February 2005

Use of an official red flag

A Daily Star article which details the Bangladeshi Education Minister's fight against cheating in exams, has the following lines:

"Milan's (the minister) visit took all by surprise. A red flag was flattering atop a tree at Nilphamari High School ground as the state minister was supposed to fly there any day. But his chartered helicopter landed at Nilphamari stadium. He then rushed to the Alia Madrassah without giving any intimation and scope for preparedness."

I presume the red flag was an official flag indicating a visit by the minister but the article gives no further information. Can anyone else shed light on this? (Please write to us if you know of this usage.)
Zane Whitehorn, 16 March 2004

This Red flag was only to indicate the minister's visit. This was also to warn the cheaters against the possible visit. This has no official significance or otherwise.
Ragib Hasan, 5 November 2004

The red flag was flying because it indicates to the helicopter that adjacent field is for landing. It was just for identification.
SM Touhidur Rahman, 17 April 2012