The Iceland Flag and What It Symbolizes

The civil Iceland flag has been employed as an unofficial emblem since the year 1913. The national flag of Iceland was formally adopted on June 19, 1915, as a symbol of the country.

It has been utilized for maritime purposes since December 1, 1918, when Iceland established itself as an independent kingdom in association with Denmark.

The advocacy for the adoption of an Icelandic flag constituted an integral component of Iceland’s broader pursuit of independence from Denmark.

Disputes occasionally emerged regarding the configuration of the flag, and for a considerable duration, there was limited differentiation between the flag and the coat of arms.


How Do I Describe the Iceland Flag?

Iceland Flag
<strong>Picture of the Iceland Flag<strong>

During the early 20th century, there was a request made to the king of Denmark to obtain official approval for the adoption of a distinct Icelandic flag at the local level.

The granting of royal approval was contingent upon the flag being distinct from any preexisting flags and consistently displayed in a position of subordination to the national flag of Denmark.

The political parties in Iceland proposed the addition of a red cross to the blue flag with a white Scandinavian Cross, in order to incorporate the colours of Denmark.

The king granted approval on June 19, 1915. The utilisation of the new flag is limited to territorial waters when at sea, and restricted to public buildings on land, where it must be displayed alongside the Danish flag.

The Icelandic population persisted in advocating for broader adoption, and ultimately, on December 1, 1918, the flag was officially acknowledged concurrently with the establishment of Iceland as an independent monarchy under the Danish monarch.

On June 17, 1944, when Iceland transitioned into a republic, a modification was made to the national flag, resulting in a shift towards a more saturated hue of blue.

The selection of blue and white was initially made based on multiple factors. The initial regional flag, characterised by its specific colour scheme, was introduced in 1809 but had a short-lived existence.

In the year 1903, an official coat of arms was bestowed upon the island, depicting a falcon of white or silver hue positioned upon a shield of blue colouration.

The traditional attire worn by individuals in Iceland consisted of garments predominantly in blue and white hues.

The inclusion of the Scandinavian Cross in the flag design was driven by the widespread desire among individuals to symbolise both Scandinavian solidarity and national self-identity.


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How Do I Describe the Different Designs of the Iceland Flag?

  • The Regular National Flag:

According to Article 1 of the Flag Act No. 34/1944, the Icelandic national flag is described as having square blue hoist sections and blue fly sections that are equal in width to the two squares, but have a length that is twice as long.

In order to achieve a symmetrical design, it is recommended that the red cross be positioned at the centre of the white cross, resulting in the formation of white stripes of equal width on either side.

According to the specifications, the width of the red cross ought to be one-ninth of the width of the flag, while the white stripes should be half as wide, specifically one-eighteenth of the width of the flag.

According to the Flag Act, the prescribed colours for the flag are officially referred to as “sky blue,” “fire red,” and “snow white.”

In order to eliminate any uncertainty regarding the colours, the Prime Minister has issued Announcement No. 32/2016 on the Icelandic Flag, which establishes standards to serve as a point of reference.

According to Announcement No. 6/1991, the Prime Minister’s Office and Icelandic embassies abroad are responsible for providing information regarding the specific colours of the flag.

Additionally, the flag, adhering to its accurate hues and dimensions, will be exhibited at the National Museum of Iceland and within police stations.

  • The State Flag:

The state flag, often known as a swallowtail flag, is only a standard national flag with the fly end shaped like a swallow.

The fly-end is cut along straight lines drawn from the corners towards the centre line, and the sections are joined at the point where the outer length (four sevenths) and the inner length (three sevenths) meet, making the fly-end three times as long as the hoist.

The State flag is employed for the purpose of adorning governmental edifices and diplomatic missions.

The utilization of the flag on additional structures is permissible, provided that they are currently employed by the government in some capacity.

The Tjúgufáni serves as the Naval Ensign for the Icelandic Coast Guard. Additionally, state ships and other vessels engaged in official activities are authorized to display this ensign.

At the point where these lines meet the red cross’s arm, a perpendicular slash has been made.

  • The Customs Flag:

The customs flag is a variant of the state flag, featuring a capital T, representing the Icelandic word for customs, “Tollur,” positioned at the centre of the canton. The T-form exhibits a silver colouration.

The vertical dimension of the letter “T” is equal to one-half of the horizontal dimension of the canton.

  • The Presidential Flag:

The flag representing the President of Iceland is the official state flag, known as the swallowtail flag.

It prominently displays the Icelandic coat of arms, positioned at the intersection of the arms of the cross. The coat of arms is accompanied by shield bearers and is set against a white rectangular background.


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What is the History of the Iceland Flag?

In Andrew Evans’ book titled “Iceland,” a legend is recounted wherein a red cloth featuring a white cross descended from the celestial realm, thereby securing triumph for the Danish forces during the 13th-century Battle of Valdemar.

Denmark subsequently adopted the use of the cross on its flag across its Nordic territories, symbolizing the concept of divine entitlement.

Following Iceland’s attainment of independence, the nation opted to persist in the utilization of the Christian symbol.

The civil flag of Iceland has been employed as an unofficial emblem since the year 1913. The national flag of Iceland was formally adopted on June 19, 1915, as a symbol to represent the country.

It has been utilized for maritime purposes since December 1, 1918, following Iceland’s establishment as an independent kingdom in association with Denmark.

Additional symbolic interpretations pertain to the intrinsic characteristics of Iceland as a geographical entity. The colour blue symbolizes the visual perception of the mountains as observed from the coastal region.

White is representative of the snow and ice that envelop the island for a significant portion of the year, while red signifies the presence of volcanoes on the island.


What is the Law Guiding the Use of the Iceland Flag?

Legislation governing the national flag and coat of arms was passed on the day Iceland became a republic, June 17, 1944.

In 1991, two other laws were passed that define the specific colours that the Icelandic flag is composed of (previously, the colouring had been followed by convention; the new law set the common custom in stone), but this is the only major law to have been made about the flag and coat of arms.

The law specifies the size of both the standard flag and the diplomatic flags flown by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies.

It also includes information about how to properly fly the flag in various settings, such as when flying it from a flagpole, a house, or a ship.

Using the flag is considered a legal privilege rather than a right. The flag’s owner is responsible for keeping the flag in pristine condition in terms of colour and wear and tear, as outlined in the flag’s care instructions.

It also makes it clear that any form of disrespect against the flag is punishable by a fine or jail time of up to a year.

Almost half a century after the first law was passed, in 1991, a new law was enacted to establish official flag days and the time of day the flag may be flown.

According to the legislation, the flag must not be flown after midnight, and it should not be flown after sunset if at all possible.

Nonetheless, the flag may be flown until midnight if it is being flown during an outdoor assembly, official gathering, burial, or memorial.


What are the Icelandic Flag Days?

In accordance with Law No. 5 dated 23 January 1991, the subsequent days have been officially designated as nationally recognized flag days.

During these specified days, it is mandatory for the flag to be hoisted at official buildings as well as those that fall under the jurisdiction of government officials and special representatives of the state.

The determination of any potential additions to the list provided below shall be made on an annual basis by the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the aforementioned days, it is required that the flag be displayed in its entirety, with the exception of Good Friday, when it should be displayed at half-mast.

  • The current date of the president of Iceland’s birthday is June 26th.
  • New Year’s Day, also known as January 1st, is a globally recognized holiday that marks the beginning of the new calendar year.
  • The term “Good Friday” refers to the Christian observance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which is traditionally commemorated.
  • Easter
  • First Day of Summer, 1 May
  • Pentecost
  • Sailors Day
  • Icelandic National Day
  • Icelandic Language Day, observed on the 1st of December, is a significant cultural event that celebrates the linguistic heritage of Iceland.
    This day holds great importance in recognizing and honouring the Icelandic language, which plays a vital role in the country’s cultural identity and historical legacy.
  • Sovereignty Day, also observed on the 1st of December, is a significant national holiday in Iceland.
  • Christmas day


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Additional information regarding the colours of the flag can be obtained from the Prime Minister’s Office as well as Icelandic embassies located internationally.

The flag, adhering to its accurate hues and dimensions, will be exhibited at the National Museum of Iceland as well as within police stations.

The Customs Service flag is employed to denote structures utilized by the Icelandic Customs Service and Customs checkpoints, as well as vessels operated by the Icelandic Customs Service.

The Icelandic Presidential flag is displayed on the residences of the President, as well as on any vehicles utilized for their transportation. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

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