Situated at the entrance to Fortune Bay off the coast of Newfoundland, the small island group of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a French overseas collectivity. Although artifacts belonging to an indigenous settlement were discovered, no native population resided on the island when European colonists from the Basque, Brittany and Normandy regions of France settled on the isles. Except for several decades of British rule in the late 18th century, the islands have been a French protectorate. Saint Pierre and Miquelon is the last remaining vestige of the North American colony once known as New France. The island economy is based primarily on the fishing industry due to their location near the Grand Banks. While the official flag of the collectivity is the French flag, Saint Pierre and Miquelon also have their own unofficial flag that flies alongside the Tricolore.
The colonial and maritime history of Saint Pierre and Miquelon heavily influenced the design of the flag in 1982. Legend holds that local business owner Andre Paturel designed the banner. The Saint Pierre and Miquelon flag has three equal squares atop one another placed along the hoist. To the right, a large yellow image of a 16th-century sailing vessel riding the waves is superimposed on a field of light blue. From top to bottom, the squares recall the islands’ Basque, Breton and Norman cultures. The top square is the Basque flag, which consists of a white cross on top of a diagonal green cross overlaid on a red background. The middle square is a field of white emblazoned with black arrowheads similar to the upper hoist canton of the Brittany flag. Featuring two gold lions on a red background, the bottom square is the flag of Normandy. These squares symbolize the cultural heritage of the three main ancestral groups on the islands. The golden ship is a depiction of the Grande Hermine, the vessel that brought French explorer Jacques Cartier to the New World in 1536. The blue field and white waves represent water, which symbolizes the maritime history of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. As a compromise to a complaint lodged by a local resident in 2005, a yellow star may also be added to the current design in the future to recognize Saint Pierre and Miquelon’s Acadian culture.