The flag of Palau recalls the design of similar flags in the region, but is one steeped in its own history and culture. The flag is made up of a bright blue background with a bright yellow circle placed slightly to the left of center; this circle represents the full moon, which has its place in Palauan culture as the ideal time of the month for production, celebration, and several other activities.
The Palau flag was adopted in 1981 when Palau became a republic; previously, the flag of the island group had been the flag of colonial powers or the United Nations. The Spanish flag was used from Spanish colonization until the start of the 20th century, at which time the Japanese flag took over until nearly the end of World War II. From 1947 to 1965, the United Nations flag was used, followed by that of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands until Palau’s independence and establishment of its republic in 1981.
The design of the Palau flag is a simple one, and its aesthetic decisions draw connections to a few other flags in relatively nearby regions. For example, the simple circle in the middle of the blank background color is a design used in the modern Japanese flag, though that flag’s circle is placed in the center; nearly the same shapes and shape placement as the flag of Palau, however, are present in the flag of Bangladesh, which has a bold green background and red sun also placed slightly to the left of center.
The light blue background of the Palau flag recalls the importance of the ocean surrounding the islands, but its meaning is actually based on Palau’s transition into independence rather than the association with the ocean. With its long history of colonial rule and relatively diminished ability to decide its own fate, as well as the laws governing its own citizens, it is easy to see why this transition would be such an important one to the flag’s designers.
Palau’s place in history is celebrated with this flag, whose straightforward design reveals much about the history and culture of the people who live there. With its young flag and young nationhood comes a deep and reflective nature on its past, with the flag’s designers making sure that that past is carefully represented in the flag itself. Palau’s flag is a bright, straightforward, and beautiful design, deliberately constructed and planned out.