Flag of Albania
The national flag of Albania (Albanian: Flamuri i Shqipërisë) is a red flag with a silhouette black two-headed eagle in the center. It is the only red and black flag of a recognized sovereign state. It is claimed to be derived from the similar seal of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg, a 15th century Albanian who led the revolt against the Ottoman Empire that resulted in brief independence for some regions of Albania from 1443 to 1478. The current flag was officially adopted on 7 April 1992, but previous Albanian states such as the Kingdom of Albania and the post-war communist state had used much the same flag, with the former sporting the "Helmet of Skanderbeg" above the eagle and the latter a red star with a yellow rim.
The National Assembly of Vlora which proclaimed Albanian independence on 28 November 1912 approved the flag as a symbol of the Albanian nation.
The horizontal open-winged eagle symbolises the lack of submission of the highland Albanians to foreign conquest. The communist regime added a yellow five-pointed star to the flag, which was removed by the first Albanian pluralist parliament in 1992 after the communist collapse.
Albania's civil ensign and naval ensign, both maritime flags are different from the national flag. The civil ensign consists of three horizontal bands of red, black, and red. The naval ensign is similar to the national flag, except that the eagle is on a white field, and the lower portion of the flag has a red stripe.
The flag of Albania may be the inspiration for the flag of the fictional nation of Syldavia in Hergé's Tintin comics.
The presidential flag of the Republic of Kosova and proposals regarding the flag of Kosovo, which is ethnically largely Albanian are also based on the flag of Albania.
The eagle of the flag of Albania is depicted on the reverse of the Albanian 5 lekë coin, issued in 1995 and 2000.
Symbolism and evolution
The main theory suggests that Skanderbeg used the Byzantine double-headed eagle on his seals, hence the modern flag. Although the flag of Albania is very similar to the Byzantine flag due to its ties to the ancient empire (much like any country in Eastern Europe), in Albania the symbol of the bicephalous eagle has acquired another interpretation by communists. It refers to the territory of Albania as the crossroads between eastern and western cultures and the unity of its peoples despite religious cleavages. Whereas the Serbs, for example created their medieval empire of Tsar Stefan Dušan, or Modern Greece, whose nationalist program Megali Idea borrowed heavily from Byzantine tradition Albania possesses a fourfold confessional divide and was forced by the Habsburgs to maintain a laic identity. Similarly, although unsubstantiated, the name Land of the Eagles may refer to the mountainous territory of the country, and the inhabitants of this territory.
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