The Ethiopian flag is made up of three colors set in bands in a horizontal pattern. The top color, green, signifies the bounty of the country’s land. The middle color, yellow, indicates harmony and fairness among the people. It can also be interpreted to mean love and the Church. The bottom color, red, is interpreted to mean the sacrifice required to defend the country. The flag also contains a yellow pentagram, which is Ethiopia’s coat of arms, in the center against a blue circular background. The pentagram points to the various ethnic groups in Ethiopia in union, and the blue background signifies peace. Prosperity and wealth are represented by the yellow rays that emanate from the pentagram.
This current flag of Ethiopia is one of the newest in the world. The country adopted it in 1996, though the colors of the flag and their meanings trace their roots back over a hundred years ago when the Ethiopian people battled against Italian invaders.
There have been several flags adopted by the Ethiopian people since then, up to the current flag adopted in the mid-1990s. Originally the Ethiopian flag had three colored pennants—red, yellow, and green—against a white background. The Empire flag followed in 1897, which featured the Lion of Judah, which can stand for both Jesus Christ and an ancient Israelite tribe, set against a solid striped green, yellow, and red background. When Haile Selassie came to power, the Empire flag changed to the Imperial flag, which not only featured the Lion of Judah but five Stars of David, four of them in the corners of the flag and one below the Lion in the center. The Lion is also ringed with the Order of Solomon’s Seal, which is the symbol of the knight’s order associated with the Ethiopian Empire. The Colony flag changed significantly. It switched from horizontal green, yellow and red stripes to vertical green, white and red stripes, with a shield and cross in the middle white stripe. In 1987, the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Flag came to be, which returned the flag to the traditional horizontal green, yellow and red stripes and features a shield picturing a star against a red background radiating yellow rays outward against a larger blue background. Also featured in the pictorial is a stone monument that serves as a relic of Ethiopia’s ancient Aksum trading nation, and a cogwheel. A wreath encircles the scene, but room is left at the top for the name of the country to be written in the Ge’ez alphabet, the ancient language of Ethiopia.