The flag of Montenegro is a mostly red ensign bordered on the outside with gold. In the center of the flag is the country’s coat of arms, which is a two-headed golden eagle. The eagle holds a golden scepter in its left talons and a blue globus cruciger in its right. In the center of the eagle is a shield with two-thirds on the top being blue and the bottom third being green. Also on the shield is a golden lion with one paw upraised. In the center of the eagle’s two heads is a golden crown. The flag was officially adopted in 2004.
The coat of arms on the Montenegro flag is the primary means of symbolism. The two-headed eagle is of Roman origin, but has been used in several Eastern European dynasties. The lion on the shield is symbolic of episcopal authority. The two-headed eagle has been the symbol of Montenegro for most of its history, with the brief exception of its time as a socialist republic. At that point its coat of arms was some variant of a house on a cliff framed by sheaves of a wheat and a red five-pointed star at the top.
The Montenegro flag has also had a variety of incarnations throughout its history. The first flag was of the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro and featured a red background bordered by white with a white iron cross in the center. The next flag represented the Principality of Montenegro between 1875 and 1905. This flag was also red with a white border and the two-headed eagle in the center. The eagle in this version was white and below it was the golden lion with an upraised paw that would eventually become part of the coat of arms. The Princedom/Kingdom of Montenegro flag between 1905 and 1918 was a red, blue and white horizontal tricolor. In the center was the coat of arms, now bearing the lion. The eagle in this version was also white. The flag of the People’s/Socialist Republic of Montenegro was the same tricolor, but with the addition of a red five-pointed star in the center. This flag existed until 1994 when it was replaced with the Republic of Montenegro flag. That flag was a red, sky blue and white horizontal tricolor.