The flag of Tunisia is a red rectangle with a white circle in the center containing a red crescent moon and five-pointed star. It was officially adopted in 1959 and the crescent and star symbols hark back to the Ottoman Empire, of which Tunisia was a part. Previously the flag was a naval ensign beginning in 1831 by Husayn II ibn Mahmud. Previous flags of Tunisia were of the Ottoman Empire and its interests there. A typical regency flag of Tunisia during the Ottoman Empire was a horizontal blue, red and green striped flag. The Ottoman Navy between 1793 and 1844 was a red rectangle with a large crescent moon and five-pointed star in white on the left part of the flag.
Another complex flag of the Bey of Tunis was in use during the 19th century. This flag was a horizontal gold and red striped background with four stripes of each, then a center green band. A sword with a cleaved blade adorned the middle part. The top and bottom half of the flag contained five columns of symbols with four symbols in each. Two of the symbols were circles and two were stars. One circle symbol was mostly green with a smaller gold circle in the right bottom. The other was mostly blue with a red smaller circle in the right bottom. The stars were six-pointed stars, one with a green interior and red outline, the other with a blue interior and white outline.
When Tunisia was under French colony rule, the flag was like the modern flag, except with the French tricolour in the top left-hand corner. This flag was used by different military units at the time, but was not an official Tunisia flag.
The meaning of the Tunisian flag uses red to symbolize blood and sacrifice. The white aspect stands for peace, while the circular motif represents the sun. The crescent represents Muslim unity and the five-pointed star is a traditional symbol for the Five Pillars of Islam. Another meaning for the red color is said to be the light spreading throughout the world of Islam.