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History and Symbolism of the Nicaraguan Flag

Rujuta Patil
The Nicaraguan flag has been greatly inspired from the flag of the former Federal Republic of Central America. Here is more about the history and symbolism of the national flag of this Central American country.

Did You Know?

With Spanish being the primary language spoken, Miskito, Sumo, Rama, and Garifuna are some native languages in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua. Where is that? Many people may not be able to point out or even make a guess about its location. If some of you remember the term 'isthmus', this is one of the few countries to be dwelling on an isthmus.
It is an otherwise small, but the largest of the countries on the isthmus connecting the two huge continents of North and South America. Yes, you are right! Nicaragua is a part of Central America.
With a population of little over six million, it has a multiethnic nation, including Africans, Europeans, Asians, people from the Middle East, and the indigenous tribes of the Mosquito (or Miskito) coast. The national flag of this multicultural nation combines various natural and human aspects of local geography.

History of the Nicaraguan Flag

The flag seen today is very similar to the flag of the Federal Republic of Central America or the United Provinces of Central America, of which Nicaragua was earlier a member state. This federation was the first united sovereign state in Central America, which existed from the years 1821 to 1841.
It was a union including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua; all territories of the former kingdom of Guatemala. Nicaragua gained independence from Spain in 1821. This is when it joined the United Provinces. However, the federation dissolved in 1838, leaving Nicaragua and all other states as independent entities.
In the year 1908, Nicaragua decided to adopt the same emblems as used by the United Provinces, which is interpreted as its willingness towards the rebirth of a united political entity comprising these five states. The flag of Nicaragua was adopted in August 1971. It maintains a 3:5 proportion.
A triband flashing its official blue color, it centers the Coat of Arms on the white band.

Meaning and Symbolism of the Nicaraguan Flag

Colors: The flag of Nicaragua has three horizontal bands of equal width in the country's national colors of white and blue. The blue bands at the top and the base of the flag represent the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Nicaragua is flanked by the Pacific Ocean on its west, and the Caribbean Sea on its east. So, the white band in between the blue stands for this land in between these two water bodies.
Coat of Arms: The coat of arms on the Nicaraguan flag was originally adopted in 1823 as the coat of arms of Central America. It has undergone major alterations thereafter, until the more recent version adopted in 1971. In the Nicaraguan flag, the placement of other symbolic icons inside a triangle have been borrowed from the coat of arms of the Federal Republic of Central America.
The coat of arms of an organization, or a country, serves as its official emblem, that summarizes the essence of the country's history and culture. On a flag, it often gives a glimpse of the important historical events and ideals laid out for itself by a nation.
Text: REPUBLICA DE NICARAGUA is written over the triangle. This is the official name of the Republic of Nicaragua in Spanish.

AMERICA CENTRAL encircles the base of the triangle, reminiscent of the former United Provinces of Central America.
Triangle: Signifying the coat of arms as a unified motto, the shape of a triangle indicates the value of equality.
Volcanoes: Five mountains seen near the base of the triangle represent the original five member states of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Phrygian Cap: The red little symbol at the center of the triangular emblem is the Phrygian cap. It is a conical-shaped soft cap, with its tapering top twisted and pulled forward. It belongs to the settlers of Anatolia (Turkey).
However, in early modern times, it accidentally became the symbol of liberty and freedom in Europe, as was confused with the cap of emancipated slaves (the pileus). Hence, it is known as the 'liberty cap' too. The Phrygian cap represents national freedom.
Sunshine and Rainbow: Surrounding the Phrygian cap are bright yellow rays moving out from the center. They cover the upper part of the triangle, depicting a sunrise on the land among waters. This typifies the bright, hopeful, and promising future of the nation.
A uniqueness of the Nicaraguan flag lies in its display of the rainbow. Along with all other colors, the arc with the violet color makes it the only flag (of a sovereign nation) to have violet color. The rainbow also stands for a brightened future.