History and Design of the Bolivia Flag
The flag of Bolivia is both colorful and attractive. The emblem it showcases is the Bolivian coat of arms, found in the center of the flag. The background consists of three horizontal stripes, in red, yellow and green in that order from top to bottom. The center emblem features a crest, which is surrounded by olive branches, muskets, tiny Bolivian flags and finally, an Andean condor on the top of the crest.
Coat of Arms Details
Upon close inspection, individuals can see that the coat of arms depicted on the Bolivian flag shows mountain plains representing the country’s geography. The national animal of Bolivia, the llama, is also clearly seen in the coat of arms design.
Other Symbols Explained
The crossed muskets seen on the flag are a symbol of the nation’s fight for independence, while the Andean condor symbolizes liberty from Spain. The wild olive branches are used as a symbol of peace and unity.
The flag of Bolivia did not always have its current design, however. On the 17th of August, 1825, less than two weeks after Bolivia’s Declaration of Independence from Spain, the first official flag and crest of Bolivia were created.
The new design had similar horizontal stripes, but used only two colors, following a green-red-green pattern. The middle red stripe was a bit wider than the green stripes. The red stripe also featured five stars, representing the five provinces that existed at that time. These were Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Potosi, and La Paz.
This version was modified in 1826, and the pattern was yellow, red and green from top to bottom and the national coat of arms took the place of the five stars on the red stripe. The green was said to represent the lush vegetation in the territory, the yellow the country’s mineral richness, and the red the blood lost during the fight for independence.
In 1851, President Manuel Belzu changed the order of the colors to red–yellow–green to reflect those seen on the pantuju and the kantuta, Bolivia’s two national flowers.
In 2009, Bolivia’s new constitution was established and Bolivian President Evo Morales commanded that the whipala flag be flown to the left of the official flag of Bolivia in classrooms, public buildings, and residential homes. The whipala is a pattern of diagonal stripes made from multicolored cubes and was a symbol of the Andean peoples of Western Bolivia. However, this mandate resulted in a significant amount of tension, as most eastern Bolivians and those from other regions did not feel the pattern represented their political views, cultures, traditions history or beliefs. Therefore, many individuals refuse to fly the second flag, particularly in their own homes. Regardless of this conflict, however, the official flag of Bolivia features an interesting and beautiful design that reflects the history and culture of the Bolivian people.