The flag of Bangladesh is a simple design – a red circle on a green background. The most superficially interesting thing about the flag, by far, is the obvious tweak to this otherwise standard design: The flag’s “dot” is off-center. This non-standard design choice is actually a rather ingenious innovation, because it means that the disc appears centered on the flag when it’s being flown, especially on a mast.
The current iteration of the flag was established in 1972, after Bangladesh gained independence the year prior. In the Bangladesh Liberation War, the flag’s precedent was flown, similar but with a map of what is now Bangladesh in yellow contained within the red. In another instance of a practical concern affecting the flag’s design, this was removed so that making flags that looked right from whichever side they were viewed would be easier.
The colors themselves, of course, were selected for several levels of meaning. The green field, specifically the shade bottle green, represents the lush green landscape of Bangladesh. The disc symbolizes the sun as it rises over Bengal, the region at the apex of the bay of the same name and which contains Bangladesh. It also represents the blood of people who died for the country’s independence. The flag is referred to as the Red and Green.
The flag’s early version was designed at Dhaka University by student activists in June 1970, and was made of donated clothes. The landmass represented on it – initially traced on tracing paper, then painted on – was known at the time as East Pakistan, but that would change within two years. The design was conceived in deliberate contrast to that of West Pakistan, which features a star and crescent.
The first time this flag was raised was almost a year later on the second of March, 1971, by one of the student leaders involved in its design, ASM Abdur Rab, who was the university’s student union vice president. Rab went on to be a politician and party leader. The flag was hoisted at the bawt-tawla, the shade of a banyan tree on campus which was a student hub and was already a historical location as a meeting site for activists. Soldiers were sent to destroy the bawt-tawla that month, in the wake of massacres. But a new sapling was planted in the same spot two years later, and students still meet at the site today.