Nov. 14 (Thursday)

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Ethiopia is the only African country that has never been colonized. It was the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty as an independent country.


In the 1950s and 1960s, emerging African states thus looked to Ethiopia as a role model. Its flag – a red, yellow and green tricolor – inspired a new generation of flags. Soon, red, yellow and green became known as the Pan-African colors, or “Rasta colors.” (They were adopted by the Rastafarian movement.)

Ethiopia Various versions of Ethiopia’s flag have included emblems, including the current design, with a blue disk and star (right). However, many Ethiopians reportedly continue to fly a “plain” flag (essentially the original design), which has been described as a “a kind of non-official ‘civil’ flag.”

Today, seven African nations have what we might call “classic African flags,” with red, yellow and green only – (below, left to right) Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mali, Senegal.

Benin Burkina Faso Cameroon Republic of the Congo Guinea Mali Senegal

At least nine other African nations have flags that include the Pan-African colors. Most of them also include the color black, which is commonly used as a symbol of Africa or dark-skinned people – (below, left to right) Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, Zimbabwe

Central African Republic Ghana Guinea-Bissau Mozambique Sao Tome and Principe South Africa South Sudan Togo Zimbabwe

Of the thirty-three African nations not pictured above, twenty-one feature the color green (Algeria, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, The Gambia, Western Sahara and Zambia), making it the most popular of the Pan-African colors.

Dominica Grenada Saint Kitts and NevisSpacerBolivia French Guiana Guyana Suriname

Several non-African flags use the Pan-African colors – (above, left to right) Caribbean: Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis; South America: Bolivia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname; (below, left to right) North America: Saskatchewan (Canada); Europe: Lithuania, Portugal; Pacific Ocean: Vanuatu; Indian Ocean: Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles

SaskatchewanSpacerLithuania PortugalSpacerVanuatuSpacerComoros Mauritius Seychelles

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