Flag of Colombia
The flag of Colombia was adopted on November 26, 1861. It is a horizontal tricolour of yellow, blue and red. The yellow stripe takes up the top half of the flag and the blue and red take up a quarter of the space each.
Symbolism and design
The horizontal stripes (from top to bottom) of yellow, blue and red tricolour have a ration of 2:1:1. It - together with that of Ecuador, also derived from the Flag of Gran Colombia - is different from most other tricolour flags, either vertical or horizontal, in having strips which are not equal in size. (Venezuela, whose flag is also derived from the same source, opted for a more conventional tricolour with equal strips).
Francisco de Miranda was the person who originally created the common yellow, blue and red flag of Gran Colombia that Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with slight variations, share today. Miranda gave at least two sources of inspiration for his flag. In a letter written to Count Simon Romanovich Woronzoff (Vorontsov) in 1792, Miranda stated that the colours were based on a theory of primary colours given to him by the German writer and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Miranda described a late-night conversation which he had with Goethe at a party in Weimar during the winter of 1785. Fascinated with Miranda's account of his exploits in the United States Revolutionary War and his travels throughout the Americas and Europe, Goethe told him that, "Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colours are not distorted.” He proceeded to clarify what he meant:
“ First he explained to me the way the iris transforms light into the three primary colours […] then he proved to me why yellow is the most warm, noble and closest to light; why blue is that mix of excitement and serenity, a distance that evokes shadows; and why red is the exaltation of yellow and blue, the synthesis, the vanishing of light into shadow.
It is not that the world is made of yellows, blues and reds; it is that in this manner, as if in an infinite combination of these three colours, we human beings see it. […] A country starts out from a name and a flag, and it then becomes them, just as a man fulfils his destiny. ”
After Miranda later designed his flag based on this conversation, he happily recalled seeing a fresco by Lazzaro Tavarone in the Palazzo Belimbau in Genoa that depicted Christopher Columbus unfurling a similar-coloured flag in Veragua during his fourth voyage.
In his military diary, Miranda gave another possible source of inspiration: the yellow, blue and red standard of the Burger Guard (Bürgerwache) of Hamburg, which he also saw during his travels in Germany.
In the 1801 plan for an army to liberate Spanish America, which he submitted unsuccessfully to the British cabinet, Miranda requested the materials for "ten flags, whose colours shall be red, yellow and blue, in three zones." However, the first flag was not raised until March 12, 1806, in Jacmel, Haiti, during his ill-fated expedition to Venezuela.
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