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LINKS: Worlds Flags UN Flags flags terminology

Switzerland Flag

Flag of Switzerland
Flag Name(s) [Flag Of Switzerland]
Aspect Ratio(1:1)
Color Schemered white
Color and Design

A square flag with a white cross in the centre and background in red.

Meaning & SymbolismThe white cross on the red field represents the Christianity. The Swiss flag in the traditional sense represents freedom, honor, and loyalty. In modern times it represents neutrality, democracy, peace, and shelter.
Description and Brief History

The flag of Switzerland displays a white cross in the centre of a square red field. The white cross is known as the Swiss cross. Its arms are equilateral or have the same length. The white cross has been used as the field sign (attached to the clothing of combatants and to the cantonal war flags in the form of strips of linen) of the Old Swiss Confederacy since its formation in the late 13th or early 14th century. The flag was adopted in 1841.

Its symbolism was described by the Swiss Federal Council in 1889 as representing "at the same the Christian cross symbol and the field sign of the Old Confederacy".

As a national flag, it was first used during the Napoleonic Wars by general Niklaus Franz von Bachmann, and as regimental flag of all cantonal troops from 1841. The federal coat of arms (eidgenössisches Wappen) was defined in 1815 for the Restored Confederacy as the white-on-red Swiss cross in a heraldic shield. The current design was used together with a cross composed of five squares until 1889, when its dimensions were officially set.

It is unknown where the white cross originated because there are several competing legends about it. Some sources connect it to the story of the Theban Legion, a Roman military unit that converted to Christianity and was martyred in the area. Other stories associate the symbol with the story of Christ's martyrdom. Others trace it back to the war banner of the Holy Roman Empire, which dates to the 12th century at the latest and also featured the red field that would become part of most future Swiss flags. Regardless of the emblem's origin, the symbol was certainly used to distinguish Swiss soldiers from their enemies in the Battle of Laupen in 1339, and it may have been used as a Swiss symbol even earlier than that. The white cross was used on a red field in battle to represent the united cantons of Switzerland in 1422, although it was not used for civil purposes until significantly later.

The Swiss Confederation only used the flag in battle, which was a very rare occasion due to the nation's policy of neutrality. That only changed during the Napoleonic Wars, when the nation briefly gained a national tricolor flag due to a French attempt to turn it into a puppet state. That flag was quickly abandoned, and people started to use the white and red flag of the modern era afterwards. The government responded a few years later by adopting it as the nation's federal flag in 1848, and accepting it as the national flag in 1889.


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