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i shall use this valuable space to critique a world flag. i shall follow only this rule: stick to the extraordinary and the dreadful while ignoring the mundane. now, on with the flags!

Lebanon's flag

18 February 2004

It seems the entire globe was at one time a colony of Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, the Netherlands or Belgium. And since it is "Celebrate the Former Colonies" week here in the U.K., let's review a former colony's flag.

This week I look at the former Spanish colony of Equatorial Guinea (Spanish Guinea). When I mentioned this country to my wife she abruptly said, "That's not a country, is it? Equatorial Guinea? Who would name their country that?" (Perhaps the quote isn't verbatim, but you get the point.)

The rectangular country of half a million people is situated between Cameroon and Gabon in West Africa and includes five islands in the Bight of Biafra. The largest island, called Isla de Bioko, is home to the country's capital of Malabo. Equatoguineans who live on the continent must travel the bight to do business in Malabo. Who thought this would be a good idea? Could you imagine London on Guernsey or Washington on Hawaii? Granted, the Hawaii reference is a bit of a stretch, but geez …

The flag, which flies proudly over the heads of people who earn only £1,300 a year, has three horizontal bands of green, white, and red with a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side and a coat of arms centred in the white band. The coat of arms has six yellow six-pointed stars (representing the mainland and the five offshore islands) above a gray shield bearing a silk-cotton tree. Below it is a scroll with the motto "UNIDAD, PAZ, JUSTICIA," which means "Unity, Peace, Justice" in Spanish.

Flag detail

This is a pretty boring flag with a poor choice of colours. Who would choose baby-blue for the hoist-side triangle? (Probably the same chap who thought "Equatorial Guinea" was a good name.) The only thing that saves this flag is the interesting detail in the coat of arms. I like the stars and the trees and the not-so-hard-to-figure-out motto.

I have a suggestion for longtime dictator Obiang Nguem Mbasogo: Put the "equality" back in Equatorial Guinea and allow some free elections. Then to celebrate, you could change the flag to just a giant equals sign (=). I'd give that flag three stars, probably. If you wanted a four-star review, though, you'd have to change your national anthem to "Aikea-Guinea" by the Cocteau Twins. It doesn't have anything to do with flags but it's a good tune.

1 1/2 stars

Next time: St. Helena

Lebanon's flag


1 February 2004

I apologise profusely for not writing a flag review for several weeks. I was on holiday, then received an emergency communiqué from the Earl of Armagh requesting my immediate presence. It turns out he needed some flag advice. I was happy to oblige. And now, I'm back in the States.

Lebanon's flag features a band of white with a green cedar tree sandwiched between two bands of red. I know what you're thinking: "I've never seen a cedar tree with a green trunk." Well, settle down. It's artistic license.

My loyal fans out there can probably figure out that I like this flag because it contains something unique, in this case the cedar tree. (Add the eye-pleasing colour-scheme and you have one excellent flag.)

My enemies out there are probably still trying to figure out where I legally live.

I know the INS has been to two of my previous home addresses and I also know they've been reading this column. Good luck in trying to find me. And I hope you enjoy reading about flags. Perhaps I will review the INS' flag some day. Oh, that's right, you don't even have a flag. That's really too bad for you.

Rating: 4 stars

Next time: Equatorial Guinea

Afghanistan's flag


19 November 2003

To say that the political situation in Afghanistan is a mess is an understatement. But this isn't "Eric Blair's World of Political Predicaments," so let's review the flag!

The current flag — which contains three equal vertical bands of black, red, and green — features in its field an emblem of a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bold Islamic inscription above.

Afghanistan's old flag.

Because of its political instability, Afghanistan has had more flags in recent history than any other country in the world. The new flag is an improvement, namely because it better highlights the emblem. I also like the introduction of red as it boldens the overall image.

Some interesting non-geographical facts about Afghanistan:

  • "Afghanistan" and "Afghan/afghan" are the only words in the English language with "fgh" in a row (incidentally, FGH is accepted acronym for "female garden hose").

  • In an alphabetical list of all the world's countries, Afghanistan comes first.

  • "Afghan" is also used to describe a kind of shawl and a particular type of hound.

Rating: 4 stars

Next time: Lebanon

South Korea

South Korea

5 November 2003

The flag of South Korea is white with a red-and-blue yin-yang symbol surrounded by four black trigrams from the I Ching. The symbols, called Kwae, represent the principles of movement and harmony. Each Kwae consists of three bars that can be either broken or unbroken. A broken bar stands for yin while an unbroken one stands for yang.

Specifically, the trigrams on the flag are: Kun or "heaven" (three unbroken bars), Yi or "fire" (unbroken, broken, unbroken), Kam or "water" (broken, unbroken, broken), and Kon or "earth" (three broken bars).

Everything on this banner is in total balance. And I mean that from both the design sense and from the spiritual one. Few flags can achieve this combination properly. And few flags get a four-star review from Eric Blair!

South Korea

Incidentally, I find the country's naval ensign quite amusing. A naval ensign is a flag flown by naval vessels and often at naval bases. Naval ensigns often take the form of the national flag in the canton of either a plain coloured flag or a simple cross flag. South Korea's ensign employs the yin-yang symbol in its canton with two anchors penetrating it. The tops of the anchors, though, look like the torsos of stick people. Probably not the designer's intention, but amusing nonetheless.

Rating: 4 stars

Next time: Afghanistan

Flag of American Samoa

American Samoa

15 October 2003

American Samoa is a group of small islands located in the South Pacific about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. In fact, if you drew a triangle from Hawaii to New Zealand to Tahiti, you'd find Samoa right in the middle. Of course, drawing such a triangle would be overly labourious. You'll just have to take my word on it.

An 1899 treaty granted control of the Samoan archipelago to Germany and the United States. The U.S. had formally occupied its portion — a smaller group of eastern islands with the excellent harbor of Pago Pago — the following year.

The flag of American Samoa pays tribute to its American connections, using the familiar colours of red, white and blue and featuring an American bald eagle flying toward the hoist side. Clutched in the eagle's talons are two traditional Samoan symbols of authority, the staff and the war club.

As I said in my review of Zambia's flag earlier this year, "Any flag with a bird on it gets an additional half star." So with that in mind, the flag of American Samoa gets three-and-a-half stars.

Rating: American Samoa 3.5 stars

Next time: South Korea



1 October 2003

Spain has some of the most interesting and colourful regional flags in the world. (Please refer to www.flags.net for pictures of all the flags.) Too bad Spain's national flag doesn't contain the same imagery.

Aragón, Asturias, Basque, Canary Islands, Castilla-León, Galicia, La Rioja, and, in particular, Valencia, have beautiful banners with bright reds, blues, greens and yellows and sharp icons. The castles and
The flag of Valencia.
lions of Castilla-León are priceless. Look close at the detail of Andalusia's emblem: What is that man (or woman?) doing with those lions, anyway? Asturias has a yellow cross on a blue background with an "A" and a "W" hanging from it. The castle on the Balearic Islands flag is a formidable fortress. And those dogs look pretty excited on the Canary Islands flag.

But the best of the regional flags is Valencia. Simple, yellow and red stripes on the right, an intricate blue and yellow border on the left, and bits of green and red icons in between spells a four-star flag in my book!

Which brings me to my point: With so many interesting bits and pieces to choose from, why does Spain have a plain yellow flag with small red stripes
Anyone care for some gum?
at the top and bottom? The coat of arms, which is used for all occasions outside of Spain, helps. But remove it and the flag looks a bit like a chewing gum wrapper.

Rating: Spain 3 stars

Next time: American Samoa



30 July 2003

Sorry friends, it's been a while. I apologise profusely. Are you satisfied? Then let's review!

Nepal is small, landlocked country located between China and India in the Himalayas. In fact, it contains eight of the world's 10 tallest mountains, including Mount Everest.

The flag of Nepal is truly unique and is one of my favourites. Instead of the standard rectangular shape, the flag is two overlapping right triangles. The upper triangle bears a white stylised moon and the lower triangle (which is slightly larger) bears a white 12-pointed sun.

Until the flag was updated in 1962, the sun and moon had human faces. The flag is said to express the hope that Nepal will endure as long as the sun and the moon. The blue border symbolises peace.

More countries ought to look at non-rectangular-shaped flags. I've always thought a circle would be a good flag shape, but it probably wouldn't fly too well. Same goes for the cube flag. A friend of mine from Ipswich (go Ipswich Town!) once spent a week designing a one-dimensional flag. Unfortunately, it was very hard to see ...

Rating: Nepal 3 stars

Next time: Spain


Antigua and Barbuda

27 June 2003

Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadaloupe, and to the north and west are St. Kitts and Nevis. If you don't know your Caribbean geography, I suggest you take a class. If you can't take a class, click this map. Feel better? On with the review!

The Siboney were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 B.C., but it was the Arawak and Carib who populated the islands when Columbus landed on his second voyage in 1493. The British established control in 1667 and used slaves to run Antigua's sugar plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834 and the islands became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981.

Antigua and Barbuda have a population of roughly 68,000 residents (about the size of Gosport or Tamworth) and its capital, Saint John's, is located on Antigua. Saints are very popular here as all six parishes are named after them: Saint George, Saint John, Saint Mary, Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint Philip. Barbuda is considered a dependency, as is Redonda, a small island east southeast of Antigua.

The flag was officially adopted in 1967. It is colourful and bold, featuring a black, blue and white inverted isosceles triangle against a backdrop of red. A yellow rising sun sits in the center of the black field.

The sun is said to represent the dawning of a new era, the red indicates the energy of the people, blue is hope and the black represents its African ancestry. The "V" shape is said to symbolize victory and the overall combination of yellow, blue and white represents the sun, sand and sea.

It's a pleasant flag to look at and features many symbols dear to the people of the islands. I only wish that more countries had flags like this!

Rating: Antigua and Barbuda 3 stars

Next week: Nepal



6 June 2003

Fifty-nine years ago today, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada launched an early-morning invasion of German-occupied Europe in the French region of Basse-Normandie (Normandy). To commemorate this event, I am reviewing the flag of Normandy. (I shall review Antigua and Barbuda next week.)

The flag of Normandy features two lions against a backdrop of bright red. And yes, they are the same lions featured in the British Royal Standard. Starting with Richard I, all of the monarchs of England (and after them the monarchs of the United Kingdom), have used a banner of their arms as their royal standard. In the case of Richard I his arms (and those of his predecessor Henry II) were three golden lions against a red background. The lions reportedly represented England, Normandy, and Aquitaine. In today's standard, the lions are featured in two panels of a four-panel banner.

As you may have already guessed, the British Royal Standard was in fact derived from the two-lion banner of Normandy. There is a myth that William the Conqueror had two lions for Normandy and added a third when he took England in 1066. However, the heraldry simply didn't exist in the 11th century.

Through thick and thin, Normandy has flown this flag and, having a soft spot in my heart for tradition, I give this flag a favourable review. One would be hard-pressed to find anything more "traditional" in the flag-flying world.

Rating: Normandy 3 stars

Next week: Antigua and Barbuda

You say Monaco, I say ... You say Monaco, I say ...


29 May 2003

The world is full of conflict. Fathers argue with mothers, brothers fight with brothers, and even motorists get steamed at each other, particularly when some nasty lorry driver cuts you off on your way to the office to write your all-important flag column! According to the National Defense Council Foundation, 59 countries are experiencing some kind of violent conflict, whether it be internal or with another state. Now that's a lot of conflict.

Most of this documented violence is the result of long-standing ethnic or political disputes. But there is one international controversy that has the potential to explode onto the world stage. I'm talking, of course, about the flag tiff between Monaco and Indonesia.

You see, the flags are practically identical. Both feature an evenly-divided banner of red (top) and white. The only difference is that Monaco's flag is more squarish. (Poland's flag confuses the situation further as its flag features a bicolor with white on top and red on bottom.)

The flag of Poland.

So who has the right to fly this red-and-white banner common to three countries? Let's disregard Poland's flag since it's technically different and concentrate on those of Monaco and Indonesia.

Monaco has been flying a similar flag since the 14th century (the one seen today was officially adopted in 1881); Indonesia adopted its flag after the end of World War II. So Monaco "wins," right? Well, to paraphrase the thoughts of U.S. President George W. Bush, "Might makes right."

What could little Monaco do to fight a country of 230 million people on the other side of the globe? They don't even have military. Its defence is the responsibility of France. Herein lies a solution that should please President Bush, his "strategerists" and even the U.N.

We could kill two birds with one stone by allowing a French/German-led "coalition of the willing" to take on the evil-doers of flag-stealing Indonesia. This would solve the ongoing flag dispute and help repair relations strained due to the war in Iraq. The British and Americans could even convince the Philippines, with the help of maybe $100 billion or so, to allow the coalition to use Philippine military bases.

Operation Save Flag Face would result in only a few years of actual fighting, but it would be worth it for two reasons. First, those Indonesians would learn a valuable lesson: Don't steal someone else's flag! And second, we could have all the petroleum, tin, natural gas, nickel, timber, copper, coal, gold and silver the country has to offer. (Of course, at least 5 percent of the profits made from such endeavours would be given back to the Indonesian people. After all, that's a lot more than that flag-stealing government is giving them now.*)

E-mail President Bush today at president@whitehouse.gov and tell him that if he were a real patriot, he'd endorse Operation Save Flag Face today! As always, tell him Eric sent you.

Rating: Monaco 3 stars, Indonesia 3 stars

Next week: Antigua and Barbuda

* This is not an actual fact.

current south africa

South Africa

9 May 2003

My brother-in-law, who hails from South Africa, has been harassing me for some time to write a column on his homeland's flag. I believe he'd like to see a four-star review. May I remind him that a Mr. Eric Blair is still writing this column!

Description: Two horizontal bands of red and blue separated by a central green band which splits into a horizontal "Y," the arms of which end at the corners of the hoist side; the "Y" embraces a black triangle from which the arms are separated by narrow yellow bands; the red and blue bands are separated from the green band and its arms by narrow white stripes.

First of all, let me say that if one must take up that much space describing a flag, it's probably too busy. However, the South African banner may deserve an exception. Let me explain.

History: South Africa's most recent history is, shall we say, a little complicated. Settled by the Dutch (the Boers) in the early 18th century, conflict broke out not only between the Dutch and the indigenous Khoikhoi and San tribes of lower Africa but also between the Dutch and newly arrived British, who were given control of the Cape Town area by the Treaty of Vienna. The Boers moved north where they fought and defeated the Zulus. In the late 19th century, the remaining Zulus were defeated by the British, who then set their sights on the Boers. The Boers were defeated by the British in the 1899-1902 Boer War, which led to the creation of the Union of South Africa under a policy of apartheid, or separation of the races. Under apartheid, various laws restricting the rights of the non-white population were passed. Violence, diplomatic isolation and economic boycotts brought the end of apartheid in the early 1990s.

Review: As you can see, many different people are part of South Africa's past. Its flag is thus represented by colors of the African National Congress (black, green, yellow), and the Dutch and British flags (red, white, blue).

The old mess.

At first glance, I'm not a fan of the giant "Y," but I think as part of the entire design it's rather appropriate. This flag has grown on me and will probably continue to do so. Few countries have such a rocky past. The flag is good reminder of what has happened and offers some hope for the future.

Orange you glad it changed?

The old flag: The old South African flag was a real mess. Using the old Dutch colors of orange, white and blue, the center of the flag features three small flags: the British Union Jack, the Orange Free State flag (which existed from 1854-1904) and the Transvaal flag (1857-1902).

It looks like it was designed in about two seconds. While it offers a nod to the past, the new South African flag accomplishes this much better.

Rating:3 stars

Next week:Indonesia/Monaco



The last state of the lower 48 to be admitted to the Union, Arizona finally "got in" in 1912. The current flag was adopted five years later.

The 13 rays of red and gold are said to represent both the 13 original colonies of the United States, and the rays of the setting sun. Red and gold were also the colors carried by Coronado's Spanish expedition in search of the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1540. The bottom half of the flag has the same colour blue as the American flag. Since Arizona was the largest producer of copper in the nation, a copper star was placed in the flag's center.

I like the rays and the blue, but the copper star gets a little lost in the background. It really should be brightened up. Considering that most U.S. state flags are nothing more than a seal on a blue background, Arizona is clearly a winner.

While doing my Arizona research — which included a week's stay in Phoenix and the Grand Canyon (and you thought I didn't do any real research!) — I discovered a list of "famous" Arizonans. Among them were Lynda Carter, Barry Goldwater, Linda Ronstadt and Kerri Strug.

As a tribute to Strug and native Arizonans everywhere, I've included this inspirational essay written in 1996 by someone described as a "college counselor":

"I am at best a tepid fan of the Olympics. Too hyped, too political, too magnetic for violence. But one rainy evening in Western Maine during my summer hiatus from teaching, I put down the book and turned on the television. There was Kerri Strug, pacing the padded warm up area, moments away from the stardom that now clings to her like a second skin. No one knew this was coming, of course. The guest show appearances. The Wheaties box. Well, Kerri might have known, but it was never her style to talk up her dreams. A year earlier she sat in the second row of my English class where it was rarely her inclination to talk at all. I edged my chair a bit closer to the I screen. Not every day one gets to see a former student on television, after all. But I was about to see much more than that. I was about to see the protoplasm of national consciousness shaped in the air between one gutsy take off and a strobe lit landing…

"One piece, they said. Just one! But no."

"Kerri. She wouldn't even eat that piece of cake when the class celebrated the last day of school. One piece, they said. Just one! But no. That day, like every day, Kerri had to leave campus early to engage in a regime so precise and demanding and tenuously balanced it could not tolerate a piece of cake. Kerri avoided superfluous things almost as if she could not afford to waste the energy. This put me at a disadvantage. It is through all sorts of superfluities that a teacher comes to know his students. But I sensed, as teachers will, the many things Kerri was really saying no to when she happened to be looking at that piece of cake. I suppose she was looking ahead to the vault that would come along one of these days, the nature of which was only clear to her.

"I challenge students from time to time to think hard about what makes someone a hero. Adulation, accomplishment, courage — there have been plenty of tyrants throughout history who have met that criteria. Just what is a hero, anyway? What if Kerri's spin through the air that night had been just an inch or two off and the landing came out wrong. You can almost hear the announcers — "Oh, and she didn't quite stick it, did she?" Flashbulbs would have flickered out. Someone else's anthem would have played. We would have a whole new Wheaties box. But would Kerri's accomplishment really have been any different? That ankle would have hurt just as much. That leap would have taken just as much courage. The assimilation of training and sacrifice and vision would have been just as apparent in her flight. But that wayward inch or two. Somehow I can't believe that's how we measure our heroes – by inches.

"The convergence of qualities that make this young woman remarkable had coalesced long before she took a plane to Atlanta. And if such qualities have something to do with the substantive definition of a hero, then such a designation is nothing new for Kerri Strug. The point is that the heroic among us ought not to be dependent on a delayed telecast for the recognition they deserve, and that we who learn from their example must realize that heroes are often a lot closer than we might think. In fact, sometimes they're no further away than the second row, next to all that uneaten cake."

Rating:3 stars

Next week: South Africa




If such an award existed, Rwanda would win a nod for "most improved flag." Changing from a red, yellow and green flag with a capital R in its centre to an eye-pleasing green, yellow, and blue flag with a golden sun was a brilliant move.

Launched Dec. 31, 2001, the new flag was designed by Rwandan artist Alphonse Kirimobenecyo, and symbolises the country's natural resources (green), economic development (yellow), and happiness and peace (blue). The sun and its golden rays symoblise unity.

Rwanda's old flag.

Government officials said the change was made (along with a new coat of arms and national anthem) because the old symbols were seen as representative of the previous Hutu-dominated regime responsible for the massacre of 800,000 people in 1994.

Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa, with some 8 million residents in an area slightly larger than Wales. Nine out of 10 Rwandans rely on agriculture as their means for survival. Life expectancy for a man is 39 and 40 for a woman. Less than 3 percent of the population is over 65.

If you're interested in helping, see the Rwanda Development Trust page. Click "Details of Projects" then "Ways of Giving."

On a lighter note, you can visit Rwanda. Kigali, the capital, has a fair amount of nightlife with various restaurants and clubs. You may want to visit the genocide memorials at Nyamata and Ntarama, but be warned: these aren't memorials in the polished, symbolic sense, rather they are the bare bones of places that bore witness to the 1994 butchery.

Other attractions include the 3,500-meter-high Nyiragongo volcano, the swimming beaches of Lake Kiva, Akagera National Park, the Nyungwe Forest, and the mountain gorillas of the Parc Nacional des Volcans.

Of course, just by being in Rwanda, you run the risk of catching such diseases as malaria, cholera, hepatitis, typhoid, HIV, Rift Valley Fever and/or yellow fever, but hey, it's worth it.

Rating: 3 stars

Next week: Arizona




From the time of its breakaway from Colombia in 1903 to the end of the 20th century, Panama and the United States were joined at the hip. The country contained the Panama Canal, and the Canal Zone was an important strategic area for America in the Western Hemisphere. Thanks to an agreement signed in 1977, the Zone was turned over to Panama in 1999.

The flag of Panama, which was adopted in 1925, is divided into four, equal rectangles. The top quadrants are white with a blue five-pointed star in the center, and plain red; the bottom quadrants are plain blue, and white with a red five-pointed star in the center.

It is a general misconception that the Panamanian flag's colours are derived from the American flag. In fact, the blue and red stand for the Conservative Party and Liberal Party; the white is for peace; the blue star is the purity and honesty of the life; and the red star is for authority and law.

I like this flag because of it's clean design and colours, and because it's so instantly recognisable.

Incidentally, a friend of mine who served in the 49th Public Affairs Detachment during Operation Just Cause (the American invasion of Panama in December 1989) recently shared this anecdote with me:

"We got down to Panama and it was dark. Real dark. I couldn't see a foot in front of me. Our unit was hooked up with the 108th Finance Support Unit. They didn't have any guns, just computers and calculators and stuff. Lucky thing we didn't have to do much shooting.

"About 4 a.m., we were ordered to 'move out.' We surrounded Noriega's palace. Resistance was pretty light. Some of the guys in the Finance detachment actually had to take care of some looters in the city. That was pretty funny.

"We busted into one of the buildings on the compound and found this old Panamanian woman rocking back and forth in a corner. She was mumbling something. After we secured the building, I got up real close to her so I could hear what she was saying."

My friend's voice became coarse and crackled as he recited her repeating message:

"Yeah, we're runnin' a little bit hot tonight, I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off of it. You reach down, between my legs, ease the seat back. She's blinding, I'm flying right behind the rear-view mirror now. Got the feeling, power steering, pistons popping, ain't no stopping now.

"Panama. Panama. Panama. Panama …"

Rating: 3 stars

Next week: Rwanda




Adopted in 1948, the Québec flag features a white cross with a fleur-de-lis in each corner. The fleur-de-lis is a centuries-old symbol that was once the royal seal of French monarchs. Very beautiful indeed!

Adopté en 1948, le drapeau de Québec comporte une croix blanche avec une fleur-de-lis dans chaque coin. La fleur-de-lis est un siècle-vieux symbole qui était par le passé le joint royal des monarques français. Très beau!

(Because Québec is officially a bilingual state, we must include translations for our French friends.)

(Puisque Québec est officiellement un état bilingue, nous devons inclure des traductions pour nos amis français.)

Of course, anything French is very unpopular now. In fact, one restaurant owner in South Carolina recently changed the name of French fries to "Freedom Fries."

Naturellement, quelque chose français est très inpopulaire maintenant. En fait, un propriétaire de restaurant en South Carolina a récemment changé le nom des pommes frites en "fritures de liberté."

I say all of this because Quebecers have nothing to do with this Iraq business. So next time you hear someone speaking French and want to confront them, remember: they could be Quebecers!

Je dis toute la ceci parce que Québeçois n'ont rien à faire avec ces affaires de l'Irak. La fois tellement prochaine vous entendez quelqu'un Français parlant et voulez les confronter, vous rappelez: ils pourraient être Québeçois!

Rating (Estimation): 3 stars

Next week (La semaine prochaine): Panama (Le Panama)




I can't begin to say enough bad things about this flag. Where's the imagination? (Oh, that's right, Col. Muammar Qadhafi is behind this monstrosity.) I'm not a big fan of green as it is, but an entire flag of it … with no emblem or stripe … not even a speck. Terrible. Terrible, I say!

After an Italian occupation that lasted from 1911-1943, Libya was administered by Allied armies until the United Nations granted its independence in 1951.

Libyan flag circa 1951.
The country adopted the Arab revolt tricolor with a white crescent and star in the middle. The stripes represented the three constituent provinces of Cyrenaica (black), Fezzan (red) and Tripolitania (green).

The Colonel took control during a 1969 military coup, and in 1972 the country entered the Federation of Arab Republics with Egypt and Syria. All three used the red/white/black horizontal tribar with a gold hawk of Quraish in the middle. Libya gave up this flag during the so-called "Green Revolution" of 1977. (Syria reinstituted two green stars in its middle stripe in 1980, and Egypt altered the bird to an eagle in 1986.)

The Colonel is an interesting man. During the 1970s and '80s, he espoused his own political system — a combination of socialism and Islam which he calls the Third International Theory. Viewing himself as a revolutionary, he used oil funds to promote this ideology. However, his military adventures failed and UN sanctions were imposed in 1992. Those sanctions were suspended in 1999 after it was determined that Qadhafi was heir to the KFC fortune.

Now using a blend of Marxism, the Third International Theory and Sandersism, the Colonel has found a new way to destroy the capitalists. Instead of blowing up airplanes and funding terrorist organisations, he's discreetly killing Westerners by filling them up with fried chicken and biscuits. The nutritional time bomb is ticking!

Rating: 1 stars

Next week: Quebec

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