|Flag Name(s)||Sarkanbaltsarkanais karogs ("Red-white-red flag") [Flag Of Latvia]|
|Color Scheme||red white|
|Color and Design|
A carmine field bisected by a narrow white stripe (one-fifth the width of the flag).
|Meaning & Symbolism||The red colour is described as symbolizing the readiness of the Latvians to give the blood from their hearts for freedom and their willingness to defend their liberty. An alternative interpretation, according to one legend, is that a Latvian leader was wounded in battle, and the edges of the white sheet in which he was wrapped were stained by his blood. The white stripe may stand for the sheet that wrapped him. This story is similar to the legend of the origins of the flag of Austria.|
|Description and Brief History|
The national flag of Latvia was used by independent Latvia from 1918 until the country was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Its use was suppressed during Soviet rule. On 27 February 1990, shortly before the country regained its independence, the Latvian government re-adopted the traditional red-white-red flag. Though officially adopted in 1923, the Latvian flag was in use as early as the 13th century.
According to history, the red-white-red Latvian flag is first mentioned in the medieval Rhymed Chronicle of Livonia (Livländische Reimchronik), which covers the period from 1180 to 1343, and is thus among the oldest flags in the world. The chronicle tells of a battle that took place around 1279, in which ancient Latvian tribes from Cēsis, a city in the northern part of modern-day Latvia, went to war, bearing a red flag with a white stripe. Legend recounts the story of the mortally wounded chief of a Latvian tribe who was wrapped in a white sheet. The part of the sheet on which he was lying remained white, but the two edges were stained in his blood. During the next battle the bloodstained sheet was used as a flag. According to the legend this time the Latvian warriors were successful and drove the enemy away. Ever since then Latvian tribes have used these colours.
Based on the aforementioned historical record, the present day flag design was adapted by artist Ansis Cīrulis in May 1917. The Latvian national flag, together with the national coat of arms was affirmed in this format by a special parliamentary decree of the Republic of Latvia passed on 15 June 1921.
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