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Paraguay / Paraguái; Republic of Paraguay; República del Paraguay

Last modified: 2024-01-06 by rob raeside
Keywords: paraguay | seal | phrygian cap | different reverse | treasury | lion | star: 5 points (yellow) | simplification | stylization | license plate |
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The Obverse (front)

The Reverse (back)

Paraguay flag (obv.)  

Paraguayan flag (rev.)

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 December 2023
FIS:  two-sided  two-sided

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 December 2023
two-sided  reverse  (sinister:FIS

TYPE: National flag and ensign.
USAGE: C--/C--
RATIO: 11:20
FIS: C--/C-- (Two Sided: obverse and reverse are different)
LAST MODIFIED: 15 July 2013 (by decree)

See also:

Description of the two-sided flag

The flag of Paraguay is a vertical tricolor of red, white, blue. On the obverse (front) side, the centre of the white fess is charged by the national coat of arms. This consists of a yellow Star of May, recalling the month of independence in 1811, which is surrounded by a wreath and the full name of the state, "REPÚBLICA DEL PARAGUAY," (Republic of the Paraguay). In the same position on the reverse, it is charged by the coat of arms of the treasury: a lion facing east, holding a staff on which a Phrygian Cap (liberty cap) is placed; above it is an inscription "PAZ Y JUSTICICA" or "Peace and Justice". The ratio and both emblems have been modified several times, most recently on 15 July 2013. Paraguay is the only sovereign nation-state whose flag has different charges on each side.
Alex Garofolo, 27 July, 2014


According to Article 5 of the decree, "the geometric proportion of its design and production should be kept as closest as possible to 1:0.55."

Is it so? It makes 11:20 in our usual notation, which is slightly unusual, but not quite odd. It is not far from the previously reported 3:5. What does the previous regulations actually say about the ratioif anything?
Željko Heimer, 24 July 2013


The 2013 law does prescribe specific colors (PM, CMYK, and RGB), but only for the emblems (on the flag and elsewhere); for the flag (art.5) it specifies «The red colour, as well as the blue colour, shall be kept as so-called “primary colours”, that is, without admixture with other colours».
António Martins, 19 October 2017

Please compare these two images, created for, and displayed at the official website of the Paraguayan Presidency: Both red and blue (but not white) are widely different, [matching] the legal prescription — flag colors were best specified in a relative, comparative manner, making use of common words in human language, with widely accepted meanings.
António Martins, 18 October 2017

Colors of the emblem

The Appendix [of the decree] shows images of the coats of arms and of the seals, with the name of their elements and colours. The colours are prescribed as follows:

  • Red [Phrygian cap] Pantone 485 C CMYK (%) 0-100-100-0 RGB 237-28-36
  • Yellow [Star] Pantone Yellow C CMYK (%) 0-0-100-0 RGB 255-241-8
  • Green [Branches]0 Pantone 355 C CMYK (%) 100-0-100-0 RGB 0-166-81
  • Brown [Lance] Pantone 478 C CMYK (%) 40-65-100-0 RGB 136-83-33
  • Ochre [Lion] Pantone 4505 C CMYK (%) 35-30-100-0 RGB 178-163-54
  • Black [Lettering] Pantone Black C CMYK (%) 0-0-0-100 RGB 0-0-0
The font for the lettering is prescribed as Arial Black. (Read the full translation of the decree.)
Ivan Sache, 24 July 2013.

Origin and symbolism of the colours

White, blue and red flags were used by Paraguayan troops in 1806 when they went to the defense of Buenos Aires during the British invasion. The earliest mention of a red-white-blue tricolor in Paraguay seems to date from 15 August 1812. This bore, on one side the arms of the capital city, Asunción, and on the other the arms of the King of Spain. The Star of May in the national arms recalls the date of independence, 14 May 1811. Defense of national liberty is symbolized by the lion guarding the liberty cap on the Treasury seal whose motto proclaims «Peace and Justice».
Ivan Sache, 20 October 1999, quoting [smi75b]

The colors were influenced by French Tricolore, which had become a symbol of liberation. A number of variant designs [vd. also here] existed prior to the current design, which was regularized in 1842. The practice of having a separate emblem on each side is dating from the time of José de Francia, in power from 1814-1840.
Ivan Sache, 20 October 1999, quoting [rya97]

The official symbolism of the flag is very rich. To mention only colour symbolism, red stands for patriotism, courage, heroism, equality and justice; white for purity, firmness, union and peace; and blue for tranquility, love, knowledge, verity and liberty.
Ivan Sache, 20 October 1999, quoting [eunXX]

Emblems on the flag

The coat of arms was adopted in 1812 (like the flag)! But it was not precisely described in all its elements. In 1823 it was modified by Dr. Francia. It was used even after his death until 1842. Since 1826 the bishopric Paraguay had used a differing version. In 1842 the symbols of Paraguay were described exactly for the first time. We know that the coats of arms before had looked similar [a8m86]. Possibly the bishopric had used two trees? The “makers” of the 1842 arms said nothing about all their earlier prototypes.
Ralf Stelter, 23 January 2001

The “classical” emblem (used in all flags of 1842-1990), is noted in several variations, of which is most notable difference in the field around the star on the obverse, with three main types:

  • simple white
  • light blue and golden base with shadow
  • golden rays emanating from the star
Similar differences may be observed on the reverse, too. All the differences were, as far as I understand not prescribed, but were developed de facto in practice in the 150 years of the usage.
Željko Heimer, 30 October 2002

Modifications of 2013

The flag of Paraguay was altered on 15 July 2013 to show new drawings of the emblems. The front of the flag has the coat of arms, which has been simplified, and the reverse shows the revised Treasury arms. The introduction of new arms was one of the last acts of outgoing President Federico Franco. The drawing of the Paraguay arms has been altered on at least four occasions over the past 100 years and the latest change is intended to bring the design closer to its original form.
Cai Zhenyuan, 02 December 2013

The emblems shown on the flag of Paraguay were amended by decree, adopted by the Executive on 15 July 2013, signed by by the President of the Republic and the Minister of the Interior. The modifications should "reflect the original characteristics of the symbol adopted in 1842". The modifications should be implemented by the official institutions no later than 90 days after the publication of the Decree.

The amendments are presented as a return to basics, here the symbols originally adopted in 1842. Accordingly, the Decrees adopted in 1926 and 1957, which modified the original coats of arms, have been abrogated.

On the obverse of the flag, the red ring surrounding the writing "República del Paraguay", introduced in 1957 by Alfredo Stroessner, will be removed. The writing will be changed from yellow to black. The blue disk surrounding the yellow star will be removed. On the olive branch, the olives will be made plain green instead of green and ochre. Accordingly, the emblem will keep only three colours, black, yellow and green. A proposal to replace the branches of palm and olive by branches of queen palm and yerba mate was turned down.

The reverse of the flag will not be modified, except the colors: ochre for the lion, brown for the spear, red for the Phrygian cap and black for the writing "PAZ Y JUSTICIA".

The writings on the two sides of the flag will use the Arial Black font.

Ivan Sache, 17 July 2013

I found that, at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Team Paraguay was marching with pre July 2013 flag. It seems Russians did not prepare new flags.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 8 February 2014

Simplified and stylized variants

Simplified emblem

When the flag is depicted on smaller items (souvenirs, etc.) sometimes the seal is reduced to a disk or circle; I’ve seen these both blue and black. It depends on the material and the size of the item. If I recall correctly, the circle is more common, but a solid disk version is used on really small items. (Obviously, the disk/circle appears in the white band.) I’ve never seen these simplifications actually used as flags, only as decorations on objects.
Terence Martin, 10 August 2004

Plain triband

plain triband image by António Martins, 16 January 2006

While red/white/blue striping is common as a decorative theme, once a cloth is attached to a stick, it always had the seal on it. It is rarely totally omitted. (My last visit to Paraguay was in 1995, so things may have changed.)
Terence Martin, 04 August 2004

Paraguay introduced new license plates around 2002. They have the flag at upper left and an emblem at upper right. The flag does not have the emblem, it is a plain tricolor. (See photo by Osvaldo Fernández)
Olav Arne Brekke, 30 January 2005

plain triband image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 December 2023

In 2017, while browsing Paraguayan government websites, I noticed two separate instances of flag-inspired graphics that seem to show the national flag with a visibly thinner white stripe, less than the expected 33.3% of a regular triband. If it had been just one, I’d ignored it as a designer’s quirk, but two, clearly unrelated — that’s a trend, behind which there might be something noteworthy.

The first of these two uses regular red and 23% thin white stripe, in a stance that suggests a unfurled but drooping flag on an vertical pole:

The other logo uses darker red and 26% thin white stripe, its design sugesting a flag on an angled pole or staff, unfurled by wind blow:
António Martins-Tuválkin, 21 December 2023