Flag of the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands Flag

Faroe Islands Flag

The modern flag of the Faroe Islands features a 5:7 ratio and takes its design from Christianity, using the sideways cross of many other Nordic flags; specifically the cross of the Faroe Islands’ flag is red with blue lines outlining the entirety of the cross except for its ends, serving as the only color against its solid white background. The color symbolism of the flag breaks down as follows: the white signifies the sea’s foam, the region’s bright sky, and the flag’s three creators, Jens Lisberg, Janus Øssursson and Paul Dahl; the shades of blue and red used in the cross serve as callbacks to the region’s previous flag.

The very first flag of the Faroe Islands was merely the Kingdom of Norway, stretching as far back as 1035 and lasting until the Treaty of Kiel 1814. Between those years, the Faroes would incorporate into the Union of Kalmaris, a confederation of several Scandinavian countries that lasted from 1397 to 1523, by way of Norway; the flag of the Kalmar Union featured a similar design to many of the modern flags of these countries, featuring a red cross against a yellow background. After the Treaty of Kiel, the Faroe Islands changed hands from Norway to Denmark but were given permission to use their own flag; the simple flag of this era featured the Faroe Islands’ coat of arms: a golden-horned ram against a blue background, surrounded by red lines at the borders.

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The designs for the modern flag go back nearly a century, to the year 1919. A trio of Copenhagen law students from the Faroes decided to create a new flag for their region and first raised it during a wedding in Fámjin. Lisberg’s flag is known as “Merkið,” which translates into the Danish language as “the logo,” “the banner” or “the mark.” Merkið would not be recognized until April 25th of 1940, more than two decades after Jens Lisberg had passed away from pneumonia; this occurred during Operation Valentine, an invasion of the country by Britain’s military during World War II.

April 25th is known as Flaggdagur, meaning “Flag Day,” and is a national holiday of the region. Despite April 25th’s national significance to the Faroes, Lisberg’s flag would not be recognized by the nation of Denmark until March 23 of 1948. Lisberg’s original flag is currently housed within the church of his hometown in Suðuroy, Fámjin.