The original flag of Panama was based on the United States of America’s flag and designed by a Frenchman named Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla. Some speculate the original design of the flag was decided on because of the United States of America’s responsibility in Panama’s independence. The flag originally featured thirteen yellow stripes symbolizing Panama’s connection to Spain and Colombia. In the upper blue rectangle closest to the pole, two interconnected yellow suns represented North and South America and were connected because Panama is the narrow land connecting the two continents. However, the flag’s design was rejected supposedly because Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla was a Frenchman, thus a foreigner to Panama.
Panama’s current flag was designed by Manuel Encarnacion Amador, son of Panama’s first President, Doctor Manuel Amador. It is said that Manuel Encarnacion Amador was known to be quite the artist and showed the design he sketched to his stepmother, Maria Ossa de Amador, who was also the President’s wife and eventually became Panama’s First Lady serving from February 20, 1904 through October 1, 1908. Maria purposefully purchased cloth from three different locations to keep the making of the flag secret. In addition, with the help of Angelica Ossa Bergomatta and Maria Amelia Ossa Prescott, three copies of the flag were constructed in an unoccupied home and secretly distributed to be raised upon declaration of independence from Colombia on November 3, 1903.
Presently, Panama’s flag is sectioned into four quarters with the top left and lower right quarters being white representing peace and purity between the political parties. The top right quarter is red and symbolizes the Liberal Party, and the lower left quarter is blue symbolizing the Conservative Party. In the upper white quarter is a five-point blue star representing purity and honesty of Panama, and a five-point red star is located in the lower white quarter representing authority and law in Panama. However, the colors of the flag have alternative meanings in that the blue quarter symbolizes the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea and the red quarter signifies the blood spilt for Panama’s independence. The equal division of colors represents both parties govern Panama at different times, while the blue and red stars together symbolize loyalty, resilience and the new republic. Panama’s flag is celebrated on the fourth day of November each year which is one day after Panama separated from Colombia in 1903.