south africa, flag
Hidden flags inside the South African flag. (@Maps4u, Twitter)
  • If you look closely at the national flag of South Africa, you could carve out four other international flags.
  • The sovereign flags of Italy, Sierra Leone, Hungary and the monarchical flag of Monaco are all contained within the South African flag.
  • When it was first introduced 24 years ago, the South African flag was the only one in the world that contained six colours.

South Africa's national flag is now almost a quarter-century old, yet it still contains a surprise or four it seems.

Read more: SA has 'the most representative flag' in Africa – here's why

The Instagram account @maps4u has uncovered four hidden sovereign flags in ours: 

Italy: Green, white and red.

Sierra Leone: Green, white and blue.

Hungary: Red, white and green

Monaco: Red and white


South Africa's former state herald (yes, that's a legit and seemingly prestigious job) Frederick Brownell designed the flag after receiving a call in February 1994 tasking him with coming up with a national flag within a week. He told the BBC the idea of the new SA flag was along the lines of convergence and unification. "The convergence of the disparate groups within South African society, and their unification in one democratic state."

When it was introduced, the South African flag was the only country flag in the world that had six colours (within a seal or brocade). According to Brownell, the colours were just colours - and do not represent anything in particular. 

These were some of the earlier designs, according to the book Flying With Pride: The Story of the South African Flag:

Source: Flying with Pride - The Story of the South African Flag

Now read: This map of South Africa's rivers is captivating – and now its creator is trying to figure out why

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