The official flag of Turkmenistan was adopted on January 24, 2001. The flag consists of a solid green background with a vertical red stripe on the hoist (left) side of the flag. Within the red stripe are five carpet guls, or designs, stacked vertically. Below the carpet designs is a crossed olive branch wreath in gold. To the right of the red stripe is a white crescent moon with five white, five-pointed stars. Green and red have long been the colors historically associated with the Turkmen people. The white moon represents the hope of the country for a shining future. The five white stars symbolize the five provinces in Turkmenistan. These provinces are the Ahal, Balkan, Dashhowuz, Lebap, and Mary Province. The carpet designs are representative of both Turkmenistan’s famous carpet industry, and also the five tribes or houses in Turkmenistan. From the top to bottom, these five houses are Teke, Yomut, Saryk, Chowdur, and Arsary. Although it goes against the heraldic rules for flags, the olive branch wreath was added at a later date to symbolize the, “status of permanent neutrality”.
Historically, the flag has had a few design changes reflective of the nation’s own history. Originally governed by Russia, the official flag was the flag of the Russian Empire, which is typical of other countries administered by Russia during this time. This flag was used until the Russian Revolution, in which, beginning in 1925, Turkmenistan was knows as Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. The Turkmen SSR used a flag which featured a gold hammer and sickle in the top-left corner, to connect them to their soviet mother country. The flag had a red background with two, horizontal stripes of light blue. Following Turkmenistan’s independence in 1991, this flag continued to be used until a suitable replacement was designed. In 1992, a flag very similar to the modern day flag was issued, but had different carpet designs on the hoist. In 1997, with the approval of the United Nations, the olive branches were added underneath the carpet designs to represent the peace-loving nature of the Turkmen people. With the issue of a new Turkmenistan flag, the moon and stars were also slightly decreased in size and rotated.