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Croatia

Hrvatska - Republic of Croatia, Republika Hrvatska

Last modified: 2011-11-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: croatia | hrvatska | europe | constitution | sutej (miroslav) |
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[Flag of Croatia]         [Flag of Croatia,close-up]

Flag of Croatia, with close-up of the flag's center - Images by Željko Heimer, 3 August 2006

Flag and coat of arms adopted 21 December 1990.
Proportions: 1:2.
Description: A flag horizontally divided red-white-blue with the national coat of arms in the middle.
Use: on land, as the civil, state and war flag.

Colour approximate specifications (as given in Album des Pavillons [pay00]):

  • Red: Pantone 199 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M 100 - Y 65 - K 0
  • Blue: Pantone 293 c / CMYK (%) C 100 - M 60 - Y 0 - K 0
  • Yellow: Pantone 116 c / CMYK (%) C 0 - M 10 - Y 95 - K 0
  • Light blue: Pantone 297 c / CMYK (%) C 50 - M 0 - Y 0 - K 0

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Adoption of the national flag of Croatia

On 25 July 1990, the "historical coat of arms of Croatia" replaced the red star in the flag of the Republic of Croatia. The official layout of the new flag, with the historical coats of arms set in the crest over the checky shield, and of the coat of arms was adopted on 21 December 1990 by Law Zakon o grbu, zastavi i himni Republike Hrvatske, te zastavi i lenti Predsjednika Republike Hrvatske (Law on the Coat of Arms, the Flag, and the National Anthem of the Republic of Croatia, and on the Flag and Sash of the President of the Republic of Croatia; original text), adopted on 21 December 1990 and published in the Croatian official gazette Narodne Novine, No. 55/90.

Quoting M. Rimanić, Glas Istre, 26 September 2010:

The symbols of the Croatian statehood, its coat of arms and its flag originate from the town of Motovun. The exhibition "The Croatian Coat of Arms from Motovun" which witnessing that was opened in the "Pet kula" [Five towers] gallery, displaying sketches, drafts and final drawings for the Croatian coat of arms and the flag. These were made during the summer of 1990 in Motovun by the renown Croatian painter and graphic designer, Academic Miroslav Šutej.
The art historian Aleksandar Bassin reminisced to those times during the opening address. He recounted that Šutej told him at an occasion that he was only waiting for the green light for the acceptable solution of the state coat of arms and flag.
Bassin also reminded the audience to the likeness of the sketches with the famous Šutej's mobile graphics, which he was modelling following his extraordinary sense for play.
Šutej invented his own expression, his personal system composed of different movable segments. Bassin quoted Božo Bek, who also wrote that the limits of Šutej's system shall picture a certain period. Following these experiences, the Croatian coat of arms and flag came to being.
With this exhibition Monovun marks the Istria County Day and the 20th anniversary of the "Law on the Coat of Arms and the Flag of the Republic of Croatia" in December 1990, in fact the emergence of the state arms and flag, devised, sketched and shaped by Šutej indeed here in Motovun, stated Slobodan Vugrinec; opening this interesting exhibition.
Šimun Šutej, the author's son [himself a renown designer], who was watching his father while he was working on the designs, stated that only a quarter of the drawings was exhibited. Even though not all the sketches were displayed, based on those numerous that were, one can notice how serious, studying and creative energy Šutej set into the design of the actual state symbols.

Croatia proclaimed independence from Yugoslavia on 26 June 1991. After a request from the European Union, the decision was postponed for three months to try to find a solution through negotiations, but when they failed Croatia formally discontinued all state connections with Yugoslavia on 8 October 1991. As the date of international recognition of Croatia is usually taken 15 January 1992, when most of the European countries recognized the independence of the Republic of Croatia.

Željko Heimer, 13 January 2011


The national symbols of Croatia in the Constitution

Article 11 of the Constitution reads:

The coat of arms of the Republic of Croatia is the historical Croatian coat of arms, whose base consists of 25 alternating red and white (argent) fields.
The flag of the Republic of Croatia consists of three colors: red, white and blue, with the historical Croatian coat of arms in the center.
The anthem of the Republic of Croatia is "Our Beautiful Homeland" (Lijepa naša domovino).
The description of the historical Croatian coat of arms and flag, the text of the anthem, and the use of these and other state symbols shall be regulated by Law.

Željko Heimer, 8 January 1998


Specifications of the national flag of Croatia

Design and size of the coat of arms

The versions of the coat of arms shown on the flag and separately indeed have some minor differences; most notably, the coat of arms shown separately has the red line outlining it removed from the shield so there is a thin white line inbetween, while on the flag there is no such a line. The red outline, plus the white inbetween, is found encircling the crest of the shield when apart from the flag; in the flag, the white outline is retained while the red outline merges with the background of the red stripe.
In Croatia, the flag makers seem to use this drawing as their source, so there is no white line outlining the shield. However, some manufacturers include the white line around the crest while others do not.

The shield should be dimensioned such that the squares exactly fit the height of the white stripe, while the lowest row of squares should entirely enter the blue stripe. The coat of arms including the crest and its white outline should then be very much close to 60.0% of the flag hoist. An imaginary rectangle surrounding the coat of arms would have its center slightly less offset towards the top of the flag, by 5% of the flag's hoist

Željko Heimer, 3 August 2006


Color shades

The Law is vague regarding the colors. The coats of arms No. 1, 3 and 5 of the crest are described as plava, while the coats of arms No. 2 and 4 are described as modra. The two words can be translated by "blue", and their exact respective shades cannot be guessed from their name.
Moreover, the flag's lower stripe is described as plava, which would mean of the same shade coats of arms No. 1, 3 and 5 of the crest. Drawings attached to the Law consist an integral part of the Law; accordingly, the use of blue shades there is what should be used as guidance. There the blue of the coats of arms No. 2 and 4 is the same dark blue as for the flag stripe, while coats of arms No. 1, 3 and 5 have a much lighter blue.
The Law prescribes colours only as red, white, blue for the flag's stripes, and red, argent/white, golden/yellow and two shades of blue (plava/modra) for the shield. It does not mention the colour of the marten, meaning "proper", which in turn can mean "any color the artist finds appropriate for an imaginary, ideal marten"; the Law also does not mention either the marten's white belly. Since the Law does not provide any further detail on the shades of colours, any colour that could match the above descriptions is correct.
Željko Heimer, 4 February 2008


Origin of the national flag of Croatia

The Croatian flag inherited its colours from the historical coats of arms representing:
- Croatia: Checky gules (red) and argent (white);
- Dalmatia: Azure (blue) with three leopards or (gold);
- Slavonia: Azure (blue) a fess gules (red stripe) charged with a marten sable (black) and fimbriated (bordered) with two fesses wavy argent (white wavy lines), in chief a star or (gold).
The geographical meaning of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia was firmly established in the late 19th century. The whole country was named Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. Therefore, it is not unexpected that the flag included the three colours.

Viceroy's Jelačić's flag, dated 1848, was the first official tricolour used in Croatia. On the obverse it has the Croatian, Slavonian and Dalmatian coat of arms, together with a crown and Illyric symbols, a six-pointed star and a crescent. The flag, made of the Croatian red-white and Slavonian blue-white colors, was raised for the first time in Zagreb on 7 September 1848. On that day Jelačić led Croatian troops towards Hungarian revolutionaries led by Lajos Kossuth. When he reached the border of the time near Varaždin, he substituted this flag for the Imperial black-yellow flag.

A simple red-white-blue tricolor flag was officially used for the first time in 1848, under the influence of revolutionary movements in Europe. The flag was, of course, without any coat of arms. Used as a local flag in a big empire and hardly known internationally, it became one of the most important symbols of the Croatian people. It can be seen very often on old postcards, mostly together with Croatian coats of arms (normally not on the flag, but from time to time as part of the flag).
A drawing representing the Slavic barricade in Vienna, 1848 (image), Croatian Historical Museum), is considered to be the first documented use of the Croatian tricolour.

After the defeat of the revolutionary movements of 1848-1849, it was strictly forbidden to show national colours in the Habsburg Empire. In 1860s, the colors were allowed again. From then, Croatians use red-white-blue colors as their national symbol.

After the end of the First World War, Croatia proclaimed independence, and the tricolor flag became the state flag, again without coats of arms. The confusion with the Dutch flag did not happen, as a matter of fact, a problem, because the state was short-lived. Croatia was soon united with Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the "State of Slovenians, Croats and Serbs", occupied a month later by Serbian forces and eventually united in a Kingdom under Serbian dynasty which had already annexed Montenegro. The nwe state, named "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes", adopted a neutral combination of the blue, white and red pan-Slavic colours (both Serbia and Montenegro used red, blue and white while Slovenia used white, blue and red).
The Croatian flag again remained as local flag, highly respected by the people, but quite illegal, as the Belgrade government tried to unite all nations into a Yugoslav nation. These efforts did succeed, so that in 1938 a separate province (banovina) of Croatia was set up. The province adopted, as one can expect, the red-white blue tricolor flag with, in official use, the coat ofarms of the province in the middle. By this time many Croatian political parties used the Croatian tricolor flag with their respective symbol in the middle. The best known of them was the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS).

Željko Heimer, 14 October 1995


Colors of the flag of Croatia

An interpretation of the colors, dating from the late 19th century says:
- Red for Croatia;
- White for Croatia;
- Blue for the Kingdom of Slavonia.
The Croation red and white colors refer to Croatian states from the early Middle Ages, approximately located in today's Dalmatia (Red) and central Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (White).

The great national writer Miroslav Krleža (1893-1981) said that the colours represent the three symbols of Croatian history and people: blood of Croatian martyrs, Croatian peaceful lamb like nature, and Croatian devotion to God.

Željko Heimer, 14 October 1995


Vertical hosting of the flag

[Vertical flag]

Table flag of Croatia- Image by Željko Heimer & Zach Harden, 27 November 2005

There is no legislation in Croatia providing what should be done with the vertical flag, even though the vertical hoisting is very often used in Croatia. The way by which this is done as a rule is simply vertical hoisting of the normally designed national flag and if done properly the red stripe would be to the viewers left. Such a "protocol" is described also in my 2008 book on the Croatian coat of arms and flag - this being the only publication (or one of the rare examples, although any other do not come to mind) that considers the issue; since being used as university manual for vexillology, as part of the auxiliary historical sciences, it may eventually have even more influence in determining such an usage, with the lack of official regulation.

Željko Heimer, 16 August 2010

This usage does not seem to have been known by the officials of the European Athletics Championships, held from 27 July to 1 August in Barcelona. During the womens' high jump medal ceremony, the Croatian flag in use to honour Blanka Vlašić, had the coat of arms not rotated, that is placed vertically.
The Turkish flag was also used with a non- rotated emblems, while the Spanish and Portuguese flags had the coat of arms non rotated.

Ivan Sache, 16 August 2010