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Flag of Estonia
The national flag of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti lipp) is a tricolour featuring three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), black, and white. The normal size is 105 × 165 cm. In Estonian it is colloquially called the "sinimustvalge" (literally "blue-black-white") , after the colours of the bands.

History
The Estonian flag first came to prominence in the 1880s as the flag of the Estonian Students' Society at the University of Tartu and was consecrated in the hall of the pastorate of Otepää on 4 June 1884. The original flag is preserved in the Estonian National Museum.

Independence
The flag became associated with Estonian nationalism and was used as the national flag (riigilipp) when the Estonian Declaration of Independence was issued on February 24, 1918. The flag was formally adopted on November 21, 1918. On December 12, 1918 was the first time the flag was raised as the national symbol atop of the Pikk Hermann Tower in Tallinn.

Soviet occupation
The invasion by the Soviet Union in June 1940 led to the flag's ban. It was taken down from the most symbolic location, the tower of Pikk Hermann in Tallinn, on June 21, 1940 when Estonia was still formally independent. On the next day, 22 June, it was hoisted along with the red flag. The tricolour disappeared completely from the tower on July 27, 1940 and was replaced by the flag of Estonian SSR.

German occupation
During the German occupation from 1941 until 1944, the flag was accepted as the ethnic flag of Estonians but not the national flag. After the German retreat from Tallinn in September 1944, the Estonian flag was hoisted once again.

Second Soviet occupation
When the Red Army arrived on 22 September, the red flag was just added at first. Soon afterwards, however, the blue-black-white flag disappeared.

The flag remained illegal until the days of perestroika in the late 1980s when on 24 February 1989 the blue-black-white flag was again flown from the Pikk Hermann tower in Tallinn. It was formally re-declared as the national flag on 7 August 1990, little over a year before Estonia regained full independence.

Symbology
There are a number of interpretations attributed to the colours of the flag. A historical interpretation of the colours has blue representing ancient freedom, black symbolizing lost independence and white, the promise of a brighter future. Another interpretation made popular by the poetry of Martin Lipp is as follows:

* blue: vaulted blue sky above the native land;
* black: attachment to the soil of the homeland as well as the fate of Estonians – for centuries black with worries;
* white: hard work, purity, commitment, and (most likely) white sails of ships

Colours of the flag
The shade of blue is defined in the Estonian flag law as follows: Blue tone is on the international PANTONE table of colours 285 C. CMYK equivalents: C=91, M=43, Y=0, K=0

Segments from the Estonian Flag Act

1. 4 Display and use of the Estonian Flag

(1) Everyone has the right to display and use the Estonian flag as long as it is in accordance with the act and follows honoured traditions.
(2) The Estonian flag is displayed on buildings and stationary flag staffs on Independence Day, Victory Day and the Restoration of Independence Day.

1. 5 Daily display of the Estonian Flag

(1) The Estonian Flag is not lowered from the buildings of the Riigikogu, the Estonian Government, the Supreme Court, other courthouses, the State Audit, the Chancellor of Justice, Ministries, the Bank of Estonia, local and city governments, and border crossing points.

(2) The Estonian Flag is displayed at Estonian foreign representations according to the laws and norms of the host nation.
(3) The Estonian Flag is to be displayed on elementary and high schools, vocational schools, institutions of professional higher education and universities on school days.
(5) Flags that are continuously displayed must be illuminated during hours of darkness.

1. 6 Flag Days

3 January – Day of Commemoration to the War of Independence fighters (Vabadussõjas võidelnute mälestuspäev)
2 February – Anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty (Tartu rahulepingu aastapäev)
24 February – Independence Day, Anniversary of the Republic of Estonia (Eesti iseseisvuspäev)
14 March – Native Language Day (Emakeele päev)
Every second Sunday in May – Mothers Day (Emadepäev)
9 May – Europe Day (Euroopa Päev)
4 June – National Flag Day (Lipupäev)
14 June – Day of Mourning and Commemoration (Leinapäev). Flags are flown as mourning flags
23 June – Victory Day (Võidupüha)
24 June – St John's Day or Midsummer's Day (Jaanipäev)
20 August – Restoration of Independence Day (Taasiseseisvumispäev)
1 September – Day of Knowledge (Teadmiste päev)

Every second Sunday in November – Fathers Day (Isadepäev)
(3) On Flag Days, government institutions, local and county governments and public legal entities,display the flag.
(4) The Estonian Government can make one-time decisions regarding the display of the Estonian Flag by government institutions, local and county governments and public legal entities, and on other days to mark events of importance for the Estonian state and its people.

1. 7 Hoisting and lowering the flag

(1) The Estonian Flag is hoisted at sunrise, no later than 8.00 and is lowered at sunset, no later than 22.00.
(4) The Estonian Flag is not lowered on St. John's Day, (Midsummer's Day) June 24.

1. 9 Requirements for displaying the flag

(2) The minimum size of a flag displayed on a building or on flag staffs on the roof of the building must be105X165 centimetres.
(3) When the flag is displayed vertically the blue band should be on the observers left.

1. 10 Displaying the Estonian Flag with other flags

(1) If the Estonian Flag is raised with other flags, the Estonian flag must be at a position of superior prominence or honour.
(3) The flags of other nations are placed after the Estonian Flag alphabetically according to their French name. Only the flags of European Union countries are placed alphabetically according to their name in their ownlanguage.
(4) If the Estonian Flag is displayed with flags of other countries or international organisations and with Estonian county, city, parish or other Estonian flags, the Estonian county, city, parish or other Estonian flag must be placed to left of the international organisation's flag when looking at the line flags from behind.
(5) Depending on the location of the line of flags or on the number of flags, points 3–4 can be changed taking into consideration that the Estonia Flag must be at a position of superior prominence or honour.

Alternative proposals
In 2001, politician Kaarel Tarand suggested that the flag be changed from a tricolour to a Scandinavian-style cross design with the same colours. Supporters of this design claim that a tricolour gives Estonia the image of a post-Soviet or Eastern European country, while a cross design would symbolise the country's links with Nordic countries.

Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people rather than Balts, based on their cultural and historical ties with Sweden, Denmark and particularly Finland. In December 1999 Estonian foreign minister – and current president since 2006 – Toomas Hendrik Ilves delivered a speech entitled "Estonia as a Nordic Country" to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.

Journalist Eerik-Niiles Kross also suggested changing the country's official name in English and several other foreign languages from Estonia to Estland (which is the country's name in Danish, Dutch, German, Swedish, Norwegian and many other Germanic languages). Several Nordic cross designs were proposed already in 1919, when the state flag was officially adopted; two of which are shown here. As the tricolour is considered an important national symbol, the proposal did not achieve widespread popularity.

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