The red white and blue flag of the Republic of Costa Rica was designed by the 18-year old wife of the first president of the small Central American nation. Adopted as the official flag of Costa Rica in 1906, the original flag design underwent slight s in 1906, 1964 and again in 1998.
Prior to 1848, a succession of different flags flew over the tiny colony of Costa Rica. Most notable are the national flags of Mexico, Spain and Guatemala. In 1847, Costa Rica declared its sovereignty from Spain, which had colonized the rugged little country since the 16th century. Today, the five-barred rectangular flag flies proudly over the capital city of San Jose.
The young wife of the first Costa Rica President, Jose Maria Castro Madriz, was an artistic woman by the name of Pacifica Fernandez. While designing the nation’s first official flag in 1848, Pacifica Fernandez said that she was inspired by France’s revolution that same year. The blue horizontal stripes at the top and bottom of the flag represent idealism, opportunities, perseverance and the sky. The two white stripes stand for wisdom, happiness and peace. The wide red central stripe honors the martyrs who fought for Costa Rica’s independence as well as the generosity of the Costa Rican people.
The original Costa Rica flag boasted the country’s coat of arms in the center. When the flag was modified in 1906, the coat of arms was revamped, highlighted with a white background disk and situated on the red stripe. In 1964, the coat of arms shape was changed to an oval and moved to the hoist side of the flag.
The coat of arms featured on the flag of Costa Rica depicts three volcanoes, seven stars and two mighty sailing vessels. The seven provinces are represented by white stars, and the blue water depicted is the Caribbean Sea. A banner bearing the name Republica de Costa Rica scrolls across the upper portion of the coat of arms.
The most recent revision to the flag of Costa Rica came about in 1998, when puffs of volcanic smoke were added to the design.