Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, the Somali people have lived in various countries located on the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and several European colonies. Over the years, the land that would become today’s Somalia has flown many flags. These include the flags of the Ajuran Empire and the Dervish State as well as the colonial standards of British and Italian Somaliland. Following World War II, Italy and Britain agreed to transfer their colonial interests over to a new independent state. Created during the transitional trusteeship period, the Somali national flag was first officially hoisted on October 12, 1954 so that the people could get to know the emblem before independence. It was not formally adopted as the national symbol until almost six years later on June 26, 1960 when the Somali Republic gained full independence. While celebrating national Flag Day in the capital of Mogadishu, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud assured Somalis in October 2015 that Internet rumors about a modification to the flag were baseless.
In 1954, the Somali labor trade union selected scholar Mohammed Awale Liban to design the nation’s flag. He created the design and presented it to the interim government in less than 24 hours. The Somalia flag consists of a large five-pointed white star centered in a field of azure blue. Mr. Liban chose the star as a national symbol of unity. The blue and white colors are those of the United Nation’s flag. They were also used in the coat of arms of Italian Somaliland. The flag has a height to length ratio of 2:3.
The azure blue background is symbolic of the sky over Somalia and the Indian Ocean that flanks the country to the east. As the same hue used on the United Nations flag, the color also acknowledges the important role that the organization played in helping Somalia attain its goal of freedom and independence. The white star represents African liberty. As a Star of Unity, the points symbolize the five historic homeland regions and ethnic groups of the Somali people. They are British, French and Italian Somaliland as well as northern Kenya and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. The former French Somaliland is present-day Djibouti. White is also the color of peace and prosperity.