A national flag – says everything without saying a word. By conveying a series of virtues as well as ideologies without too many pages or a team of expert copywriters, it connotes feelings of patriotism, honor, national solidarity and identity. Evoking a sense of strong connection between a nation and its citizens, the bond becomes ever-lasting. All of this happens because of a national flag of a country.
Since it represents a nation and reinforces national identity, people can normally tell which flag belongs to which country. This is especially evident during international sports events like the Olympics. While that may be true to some extent, some flags are dangerously similar, because of which they’re oftentimes confused for one another. So it is important to question exactly why they are so similar.
Why Are Some Flags Similar?
The story behind every ‘look alike’ flag is closely linked to its culture, history or ethnicity. The shared symbols and colors often reflect such elements of a national flag. For example, flags of Scandinavian countries have similar flags owing to the use of crosses and similar color selection in their flags, which can be partially attributed to establishment of Denmark.
We can notice in the above images how the pattern is consistent with these four flags of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, respectively.
Likewise, similar to this pattern is the one that’s popularly known as the Pan-Arabic flag which mostly reflects the Islamic world. The change in regime had led to many nations selecting the theme to represent cultural heritage as well as including a crescent and star that dates back to the Ottoman Empire.
It is evident in the above pictures how each of these three flags of Malaysia, Turkey and Azerbaijan have similar symbols which are; crescent and star, reflecting Islamic world.
Therefore, flags serve as a banner that’s both, civic and personal. It codifies virtues and ideologies and builds walls from external forces. Though flags do evolve all the time owing to many factors such as colonialism, religion and many others.
Without further Ado, let’s jump into our list of the flags that look alike.
1. Luxembourg vs Netherlands
Extremely hard to distinguish, owing to the similar color, pattern as well as design, it is important to note that the flag of Luxembourg was developed independently, though rumor has it that the French flag was inspired by the Dutch one. The tricolor format was obviously borrowed from the French revolution.
Interestingly, as much as they seem dangerously similar, the flags are not the same. Luxembourg’s flag is slightly longer with the ratio 3:5 as compared to Netherlands flag which is divided between the ratio of 2:3. Notably, the flags use a different shade of blue - where blue on Netherlands flag is much more darker, Luxembourg's flag consists of a lighter shade.
2. Chad vs Romania
Similar to Luxembourg and Netherlands’ flag similarities, Chad and Romania are quite hard to distinguish too. It is said that none of the world’s national flags look similar to each other as much as these two. Owing to the identical design and size, people can often confuse it as the same. However, it’s only after close inspection that we get to discover how the color shades are different.
It is important to note that Chad’s blue is slightly darker version than that of Romania - however, a person looking from afar, won’t be able to spot this difference, especially during international sports events. Though at first, Chad’s flag had a green stripe which resembled that of Mali flag, therefore the blue color was considered. Though Andorra's flag has a similar flag too, but it is easily differentiated by the symbols on it which include coat of arms in the centre.
3. New Zealand vs Australia
Two similar flags of powerful countries – but the question is, who adopted it first? New Zealand adopted the Union Jack and stars reflecting the Southern cross constellation in 1902, while Australia formally did not adopt its flag until 1954, an unofficial version did start flying in 1901 and thereon, the controversy continues.
Though both the flags have British Union Jack and Southern cross star in the same position which is the top left corner and right hand side, respectively, notably, both flags have some differences too. The Australian flag features two extra stars in different positions than that of New Zealand flag. Moreover, Australia has a Commonwealth star, while New Zealand doesn’t. Also, Australia has white stars, whereas New Zealand features red stars with white borders.
4. Indonesia vs Monaco
At first glance, the two vibrant flags seem similar. However, if we look at the dimensions, then it’s obvious that Indonesia’s flag is a bit wider than that of Monaco. The almost identical flags feature a simplistic design with two horizontal stripes of red and white color.
These two flags date back to hundreds of years, making them one of the oldest flags in the world. Moreover, both the flags feature a different shade of red too. Monaco’s flag is also based upon heraldic colors reflecting shield of Monegasque arms, while Indonesian flag has its links with the Majapahit empire. Interestingly, both the flags are similar to that of Poland too, only the positioning of white and red stripes are different.
5. Senegal vs Mali
Another flag with a lot of similarities, so much so, that it would’ve been impossible to differentiate if Senegal flag did not have a green star at the centre. Sharing the same dimensions and colors of green, yellow and red, along with vertical stripes, both these flags reflect various stories for their own nations. Making such vibrant flags really appeals to the audience.
Guinea has a similar flag too, but the stripes color order is reversed in the order of red, yellow and green. Nevertheless, there’s always one difference between similar flags, no matter how minute it may seem. Therefore, it is important to make distinction between each.
6. Ireland vs Côte d’Ivoire
Yet another pair of flags which seem alike at first glance, but are quite different when inspected in depth. Both the flags represent different people and have different meanings, however, the colors are the same which makes them hard to differentiate. Notably, the color positioning is different for both the flags where Ireland’s colors are green-white-orange, Ivory flag has orange-white-green.
Moreover, another difference when we inspected further was that the Ivory flag features dull colors, whereas the colors in Ireland are much brighter and vibrant. The proportions of the flags are different too, where Ireland's flag is divided between 2:3, Ivory's flag is divided between 1:2.
7. Slovenia vs Russia vs Slovakia
Three tricolored flags which look alike, are often confused for one another. Featuring the same colors with the same positioning, just slight differences in terms of symbols and underlying meanings, it’s quite interesting to unpack the monolith behind these three legendary flags. All these flags date back to centuries.
Russian flag dates back to the late 17th century, inspired by the Dutch tricolor. Many countries took inspiration from the Russian flag and two of which are quite similar to it as well including Slovakia flag and Slovenia flag. The two countries only differ in terms of the coat of arms that they’ve incorporated on their flag.
8. Norway vs Iceland
Two flags that exude boldness and personality, filled with vibrant hues, Norway and Iceland flags are oftentimes confused for one another. Both the flags have identical design, however with colors reversed. This helps to distinguish between them at close inspection. Moreover, both the flags have the same origins rooted in the Danish flag.
The question arises, which one was adopted first? The answer to that requires some statistical data. Where Iceland adopted theirs in 1944, but designed in 1897, Norway’s flag was designed in 1821, however adopted in 1898, so we have a clear winner here.
9. Venezuela vs Ecuador vs Colombia
High-spirited, lively, fiery, and an ardent looking flags to say the least. The combination of the three flags are quite overwhelming to the naked eye. We often easily confuse it easily as the same. However, the vibrant colors should not be the only factor that defines these flags. There are many differences evident too.
The tricolored flags feature the same colors, yellow, blue and red, however, they are unequal. Colombia and Ecuador feature a wider yellow stripe than that of Venezuela. Moreover, Venezuela features arc of stars at the centre while also featuring coat of arms at the upper corner of the flag, similar to Ecuadorian flag which has coat of arms at the centre of the flag too.
10. Qatar vs Bahrain
Famously known for their petroleum reserves, Qatar and Bahrain are nations which share similar flags. The differences may be pointed out from afar though, but one has to be knowledgeable about vexillology or really meticulous about flags to spot them. Special in their own way, Qatar’s flag features a maroon like red color, whereas Bahrain’s flag features a blood red hue.
There’s also difference between both the flags which pertains to the fewer points on the flag of Bahrain and quite a lot of them on that of Qatar. The flags have a different proportion too, as Bahrain’s flag is divided between the ratio of 3:5, whereas, Qatar’s flag is divided between the ratio of 11:28. Nonetheless, both make excellent representative national flags.
Read more about Qatar VS Bahrain flag differences
11. UAE vs Kuwait
Inspired by Palestine’s flag idea, came about UAE and Kuwait flags. At first glance, most of the Arab flags seem quite similar, but there are some minute differences which should be recognized. In the case of UAE and Kuwait, they both share the same colors, however the positioning is reversed. Though UAE’s flag features a brighter red color than that of Kuwait, they both make vibrant flags. Also, the proportions differ in terms of the hoist side of the flag. Where UAE has a vertical stripe, Kuwait features a different shape.
Read more about UAE VS Kuwait flag differences
12. Palestine vs Jordan
The perfect way to describe these two flags would be to consider a context where a person does the homework and the other person copies by tweaking it only a little bit so that other people won’t notice. Likewise, Palestine did the homework and Jordan copied it by adding a star. But that’s not it. Jordan's flag even has a bigger red triangle than that of Palestine, with much deeper shade of green.
13. Moldova vs Romania
We wonder why some flags are so similar – the reasoning is obvious for Moldova and Romania as they were once the country, sharing culture, traditions along with same official Romanian language.
The only difference between both the flags however, after they became separate regions, is that the flag of Moldova has coat of arms at the centre, while the flag of Romania does not. Moreover, another slight difference is that the flag of Moldova features brighter colors than that of Romania, but they’re the same for both the flags.
Read more about Moldova Flag Vs Romania flag differences
14. Yemen vs Iraq
Last, but not the least, Yemen kept it symmetrically simple, where Iraq distinguished its flag by adding an Islamic element into it. Both the flags share similar colors and same color order which is red-white-black. It’s safe to claim that both the flags do resemble a whole lot, but the Arabic text on Iraq’s flag makes it unique.
Though many resemblances exist between various flags in the world – not one is exactly the same. Therefore, making distinctions becomes essential to retain and enhance the national identity and patriotic spirit.