Flags of Africa
Africa is a large continent, and it is home to a wide variety of nations with unique cultures and identities. Those nations are very different from each other, but their common heritage means that some elements are common across their cultures. The
of Africa are just as varied as the countries themselves, but they also display some similarities that are a result of their shared heritage.
The Pan-African Colors
Many African flags include the Pan-African colors, which originated with the flag of the Pan-African movement in 1920. The flag quickly became a symbol of African pride, so many of the flags of Africa include the colors in honor of their history and as a sign of solidarity with the other nations of Africa. The Pan-African flag featured three bars of red, black, and green. Some country flags of Africa use gold instead of black or in addition to the three Pan-African colors. The gold color originated with the traditional flag of Ethiopia, which had also become a symbol of the African people during the colonial period. It is not unusual for flags to feature only one or two of the Pan-African colors in honor of the movement while also including a color that represents a unique aspect of a nation's culture and history.
The Colonial Legacy
Many nations in Africa are relatively young. Many African countries spent a large part of their history as European colonies, and that part of their history has left its mark on the flags of Africa. Some countries in Africa chose to retain some of the colors or symbols from their colonial flags after they gained their independence follow the second world war. A few parts of Africa have also chosen to maintain their association with European governments in the modern era, and those regions also tend to use flags that maintain a clear link to the countries of Europe.
Symbols of Islam
Islam is the most common religion in most of Africa, but Islamic imagery is relatively rare on African flags. Most of the nations that do include such imagery on their flags can be found north of the Sahara desert. Islamic symbols can be found on a few flags in Sub-Saharan Africa, but they are a rarity. Most of the flags that show an Islamic influence display a crescent moon and a star, as can be seen on the flags of Algeria and Tunisia.