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While currently some questions like “Is Guatemala safe?” are swirling, the Central American country remains a destination ideal for those hoping to experience a culturally rich country with a beautiful landscape. After doing some research on the nation, we know what you’re thinking: “dang, Guatemala has a pretty chill flag”. And you’re not wrong — there’s a cool bird, some swords, and nice soothing colors. So now you might be thinking “wonder what it’s all about”. Well, sit back as we run through some cool things to know about the Guatemalan flag.
The version of the Guatemalan flag that we know today was adopted on August 17, 1871. Prior to having an individual state flag, Guatemala, along with the other Central American countries south of Mexico and north of Panama, were united under a singular Central American banner. The Federal Republic of Central America was a republican democracy that existed only from 1823 to 1841. Even once the union dissolved generic flags were used. Originally the flag had two deep blue horizontal stripes with a white stripe in the middle, which later incorporated two different crests. Later, pro-Spanish loyalists added in red and yellow, in various ways, to pay homage to Spain’s flag design. Finally, in 1871 the general design recognized today was incorporated.
While all the countries that flew the Federal Republic of Central America flag kept the blue and white motif when developing their own flags, Guatemala’s is unique as it uses a blue that’s significantly lighter than the other blues. The sky blue color is a shout out to all the Best Beaches in Guatemala. Having two areas of blue on either side of the flag represents Guatemala’s coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Meanwhile, the white is meant to display the characteristics of Nation, Peace, Purity, and Integrity. Also, when looking at the flags of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, it is noticeable that Guatemala broke the mold in another way. Instead of keeping the horizontal bands, Guatemala switched it up and made them vertical.
Central to the Guatemalan flag is the Guatemalan coat of arms, which features a resplendent quetzal, a piece of parchment, crossed rifles, crossed swords, and a laurel crown.
The quetzal — a beautiful bird — is a key symbol, and the national bird, for the country. Quetzals have long been an important creature in American mythology being considered a divine embodiment of the god Quetzalcoatl, a key figure in Pre-Columbian American religion. Quetzals also lend their name to the country’s national currency. In the crest the quetzal is meant to symbolize liberty.
The parchment when observed closely has the words “Libertad 15 de Septiembre de 1821” inscribed upon it. This is the date that Guatemala gained its independence from Spain. Meanwhile, the crossed swords represent honor, whereas the rifles are a statement that Guatemala is ready to defend itself if needed. Guatemala is only one of three countries to feature firearms on their flag, Haiti and Mozambique are the others. Finally, the bay laurel crown is a symbol of victory.
Guatemalan Flag Part 2
Beginning in 2008, the Guatemalan adopted a second national flag, known as the Bandera de Los Pueblos, to be used in events that involve the president. This new flag is divided into four color quadrants, red, yellow, white, and black. Each color represents indigenous peoples; red for the Xinca, yellow for the Garifuna, white for Mayans, and black for the Ladino. The colors are also used as symbol in Mayan culture, the Q’anil, where each color is a point on a compass.