Azerbaijan is a modern republic on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. With Russia above and Iran below, its history has been shaped by European, Middle Eastern and Russian influences. The changes in the Azerbaijan flag over time have reflected the political alliances and cultural affiliations with these diverse neighbors.
The flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan has three stripes of equal size spanning the width of the flag. The top stripe is blue, the center stripe is red, and the lower one is green. In the center is a white crescent opening to the right. Between the points of the crescent is an eight-pointed star.
The blue stripe on the flag symbolizes the Turkic heritage of the country. The red represents progress, development, and the striving toward a better life. The green stripe indicates the nation’s affiliation with the Islamic religion. Although there are different theories about the symbolism of the crescent and star, there has never been an official explanation of their meaning. The flag is referred to informally as “the tricolor flag.”
In 1918, after the fall of the Russian Empire, Azerbaijan emerged from the shadow of Russia as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The flag this republic adopted was very similar to the current flag, except that the crescent and star were placed on the left side. The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic only lasted for about two years before being conquered by the Soviet Army in 1920.
During the Soviet era the flag used by Azerbaijan varied slightly over the years. It began as a red banner; later a blue stripe was added at the bottom. At different times it also included some combination of a crescent, star, hammer and sickle, and lettering. All of these symbols were in yellow. The old tricolor flag was often carried or flown as a sign of defiance during the years of Soviet domination.
When Azerbaijan again gained its independence in 1991, the modern flag was adopted. The crescent and star were moved to the center of the flag, but it was otherwise unchanged from the 1918 pattern.
The flag of Azerbaijan has served the country well as both an emblem of an independent nation and a sign of solidarity when under the shadow of a conqueror. The people it represents are proud of their flag and the history it embodies.