|Flag Name(s)||Sam Si ("Tricolor") [Flag Of Laos]|
|Color and Design|
A horizontal triband of red, blue (double height) and red; charged with a white circle in the centre (the diameter of white circle is four-fifths the height of blue band).
|Meaning & Symbolism||The blue stripe represents the Mekong River as well as the nation's wealth. The two red stripes represent the blood that the nation shed during its struggle for independence and the period of colonial rule. The white circle is a symbol of both national unity and the full moon.|
|Description and Brief History|
The flag of Laos was first adopted in 1945 under the short-lived Lao Issara government of 1945–46, then by the Pathet Lao. It is one of the two flags of a currently communist country (the other being Cuba) that does not use any communist symbolism. The current flag was adopted on December 2, 1975 when it became a socialist state. The royal flag before 1975 remains in use by a number of Laotian diaspora.
The current Lao flag was designed in 1945 by Maha Sila Viravong, a famous Lao nationalist, intellectual, and scholar of traditional Lao literature, history, and culture. As one of the members of the Lao Issara government, he was tasked with creating a new Lao national flag that is to be distinct from the royalist flag (the red flag with the white three-headed elephant) that represented the monarchy of Luang Prabang, inspired in how Thailand in 1917 adopted the red-white-blue tricolour as its national flag over the traditional royalist flag (the red flag with the white elephant). In accordance with the establishment of the Lao Issara government and its first Lao constitution on October 12, 1945, Viravong's flag was adopted by the new government as its national flag until the French takeover in 1946. The Lao Issara, as a political movement, continued to use the flag in exile until its dissolution in 1949. Its communist-led successor, the Pathet Lao, re-used Viravong's flag to represent the movement until the fall of the royal government in 1975 when the Pathet Lao re-adopted it as the national flag.
From 1952 until the fall of the royal government in 1975 the country had a red flag, with a white three-headed elephant (representing the Hindu god Erawan) in the middle. On top of the elephant is a nine-folded umbrella, while the elephant itself stands on a five-level pedestal. The white elephant is a common royal symbol in Southeast Asia, especially in Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. This flag was adopted by the royal monarchy of Luang Prabang since the beginning of the 20th century under French rule, inspired by its similar flag (red flag with the single white elephant) in Thailand during that time.
The nine-folded umbrella is also a royal symbol, originating from Mount Meru in the Buddhist cosmology. The pedestal represented the law on which the country rested.
Currently, the flag remains in use by the Royal Lao Government in Exile and various Laotian opposition groups who opposed communist rule in Laos.
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