The flag of Guatemala has three equal, vertical bands consisting of sky blue, white and sky blue again. In the middle of the white band is the Guatemalan coat of arms, which features a quetzal sitting on a parchment scroll with two crossed rifles, two crossed swords and two sprigs of bay laurel around it. The quetzal is the Guatemalan national bird and is a symbol of liberty. The scroll represents Central America’s freedom from Spain and bears the date of that independence. The rifles represent the country’s resolve to defend herself by force if necessary, while the swords represent honor. The bay laurel sprigs are symbolic of victory.
The previous flag used in Guatemala was the Central American flag, which had three horizontal bands of blue, white and blue. This was used until 1851 when a Spanish faction came into power and added half red and yellow bands on the left side of the flag to represent Spain. Another version of this flag had blue, white and red thin horizontal stripes on the top and lower half of the flag. The middle portion was a thicker yellow band with thin red stripes on the top and bottom. The previous colors returned in 1871, but changed to vertical bands.
Guatemala also officially promotes the use of another flag along with the primary flag. This flag represents the indigenous people and is flown alongside the official state flag. It is called Bandera de Los Pueblos in Spanish. The flag is split into four triangles with the top points facing the center of the flag. Starting clockwise from the left, the colors are red, white, black and yellow. The colors represent four groups of indigenous people: the Xinca, the Maya, the Ladino and Garifuna respectively. The four colors can also symbolize the Mayan Q’anil, which means seed. This symbol uses each color as a compass point. The center of the flag consists of a circular mural depicting a native drawing of a face. The circle is rimmed with black and white and the center drawing is half blue on top and green on the bottom. The flag was officially adopted in 2008.