The flag of Equatorial Guinea is one steeped in the history of the country, with several variations existing during the brief period of Equatorial Guinea’s independence, which was declared in 1968. The flag consists of three stripes – green, white, and red, from top to bottom – a blue triangle, and a central coat of arms featuring a tree, six stars, and the words “Unidad,” “Paz,” and “Justicia.”
The colors of the flag represent the country’s natural resources (the green stripe symbolizing land resources and the blue triangle representing the sea), the peace desired by its people (the central white stripe), and the blood shed during its fight for independence (the bottom red stripe). The coat of arms’s six stars reference the mainland area of Equatorial Guinea and its five islands, while the silk-cotton tree references Rio Muni, the country’s mainland area. The words mean “Unity, Peace, and Justice,” symbolizing central tenants of the country’s ideology.
The design of the flag was modified during the reign of dictator Francisco Nguema, and featured hand tools, a chicken, and an additional word in the motto – “Trabajo,” or “work,” added at the start of “Unidad, Paz, Justicia.” When Nguema was deposed in 1979, the country went back to its previous design with the six stars over the silk-cotton tree, cutting “Trabajo” from Nguema’s version of the motto along the way.
The silk-cotton tree holds a special place in the history of Equatorial Guinea – according to accounts of the time, a treaty signed under a silk-cotton tree marked the start of colonial rule of the country by Spain. While Equatorial Guinea did work to free itself of this influence, the tree nevertheless is an important image in that country’s history, becoming one of the long term of Spanish rule and eventual freedom from that rule.
With its detailed symbolism and history of change, the flag of Equatorial Guinea is indicative of both that country’s past as well as its future. Symbols such as those on the flag are important enough to both the leaders and the people of the country to change after a new regime assumes power, so understanding those symbols – especially their differences, like Nguema’s focus on work and the independent country’s focus on its own liberty and interconnectedness – is a very important part to understanding the history and current political climate of Equatorial Guinea as a whole.