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Bolivia

Bolivia / Bulibya / Wuliwya / Volívia; República de Bolivia (Republic of Bolivia)

Last modified: 2020-12-26 by rob raeside
Keywords: bolivia | buliwya | wuliwya | volívia | ratio: 2:3 | ratio: 15:22 | state flag | variation | indoors flag | fertility | bravery | wealth | president | flag | disc (blue) |
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[flag] image by António Martins, 17 August 2005 | 15:22


See also:


About the flag

The Album 2000 [pay00] says:

1. National flag. C--/C-- 2:3
This flag is defined in Decret of 14 July 1888 and has not been changed since (though there were latter regulations that did not touch this simple flag).
Željko Heimer, 11 Mar 2001

Decrees

See also:

Flag adopted in 1851.10.31, and confirmed in 1888.07.14.
Jaume Ollé, 01 January 1996

The presidential decree of 7 August 1825 described the 1825 Coat of Arms. The current flag was promulgated by the decree of President Manuel Belzu in late 1851. The decree of 14 July 1888 described the Coat of Arms, and the flags for civil, state and military use. The 2004 decree described the same symbols as the 1888 document, but offered very detailed descriptions.
Alex Garofolo, 27 January 2015.

The country’s new constitution was adopted in 2009, and was followed by Decreto Supremo 241 on 5 August 2009, which set out the symbols and their use.
Jonathan Dixon, 25 September 2016

Layout

The Bolivian flag is a vertical tricolour (tierced in fess) of red over yellow over green, as defined by Article V of the 1888 decree and Article 1 of the 2004 decree.
Alex Garofolo, 27 January 2015

Art. 4, point III, of the 2004 flag law prescribes the civil flag, which is the plain triband.
António Martins, 19 August 2005

The Law of 5 November 1851, the (Supreme) Decree of President Gregorio Pacheco of 11 July 1888, and the (Supreme) Decree of 30 July 2004 all place the red stripe uppermost.
Christopher Southworth, 09 April 2006

Colors

In the 2009 decree the colour specs are the same as the 2004 decree. There are some changes to the description of the symbolism of the colours.
Jonathan Dixon, 25 September 2016

Art. 3 of the 2004 flag law gives the official color shades: Red is PMS 485 CVU (~RGB), yellow is PMS Process Yellow (~RGB), and green is PMS 356 CVU (~RGB). Red and yellow match both the images on these pages and the law text illustrations, but the shade of green not so: While the prescribed PMS value is darker than regular green (), the law text illustrations show a much brighter shade ().
António Martins, 19 August 2005

How do these PMS specs match the legal prescriptions given in law for other Bolivian flags, such as the departmental flag of La Paz, said to be verde esmeralda, not just verde, and red punzó, not guindo? How should it look like when hoisted along the national flag and other departamental flags? Also, how is the flag of Bolivia supposed to compare to other national flags with similar design, such as Ghana, Lithuania, Ethiopia, or Burma? (Identical, lighter, darker?) Are these hard questions the creators of the tech specs in these flag laws didn’t even think about? Well, okay, but then, why PMS codes in a law, a presidential decree, to boot? Why not just use vernacular color names and let the exact shades be worked out by those in charge of the final manufacture?
António Martins, 06 October 2017

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) [loc12] provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each National Olympic Committee confirmed their colours with the London Game’s Organization Committee. Bolivia’s colours are defined as: PMS 485 red, process yellow, 356 green, 440 grey, process blue, 293 blue and black.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

As far as the yellow of the Bolivian tricolour is concerned, I have no official recommendations, however, an official model of the Naval Ensign shows the middle stripe to be Pantone 107C.
Christopher Southworth, 04 February 2002

Ratio

In the 2009 decree the proportions are still set at 7.5:11, but the official sizes for the flag are 200×300 cm, and 20×30 cm.
Jonathan Dixon, 25 September 2016

In art. 2 of the 2004 flag law, the ratio of the flag is given as 7,5:11, which is as clumsy as it comes for a flag with three equal-height stripes. (A much more even fraction to express this ratio is 15:22.) This pretty odd ratio seems to be a novelty, as all previous sources we heard of mentioned 2:3 instead (which is not very different from 15:22, anyway).
António Martins, 19 August 2005

The 15:22 ratio is slightly shorter than 2:3 (= 15:22.5).
Alex Garofolo, 06 February 2016

I also wondered why a regulated size of 15:22, but since there is only 3.4% of flag width in it I would imagine that most flags would actually be made 2:3?
Christopher Southworth, 20 August 2005

The 2009 flag law inconsistently keeps a reference to the unusual ratio 7,5:11 and yet prescribes flag sizes 200×300 cm², and 20×30cm²…
António Martins, 05 October 2017

Similar flags

The design is similar to the national flags of Ethiopia, Lithuania, Myanmar and Ghana. The same colour scheme is used by Grenada, Guyana, Vanuatu and 14 African nations.
Alex Garofolo, s/d

Symbolism

Art. 1 of the 2004 flag law mentions the symbolism of the colors, as patriotic bloodshed, nature’s bounty, and verdure and hope.
António Martins, 19 August 2005

The official symbolism of the flag’s colours was altered by the 2004 decree.
Alex Garofolo, 27 January 2015

In Whitney Smith’s Flags through he Ages and Across the World [smi75b] the red is said to stand for the bravery of the Bolivian soldier, green is the fertility of the land and yellow represents the country’s mineral resources.
Stephan Hurford, 13 February 2000

In Webster’s Concise Encyclopedia of Flags, 1985 [mch85a]:

The three horizontal stripes of the Bolivian flag — red, yellow and green — respectively symbolize the gallantry of Bolivian soldiers, the country’s mineral wealth, and the fertility of the land.
The meaning of colors on flags is usually given after a flag is adopted; this was probably the case here, as they were derived from earlier flags of Colombia and her liberator, Simon Bolívar
Jarig Bakker, 13 February 2000

According to Webster’s Concise Encyclopedia of Flags, 1985 [mch85a], the flag with its present order of stripes was introduced in 1851 but a number of variations had been used since Bolivia gained independence in 1825.
Jarig Bakker, 02 January 2002


State flag

[flag] by António Martins, 17 August 2005 | 15:22

Usage

I’ve been in Bolivia in March 2001; the state flag is hardly ever seen. Even over the presidential palace the plain tricolour is flown.
Mark Sensen, 03 July 2005

Usage of the State Flag and War Flag is covered in Articles VI thru VII of the 1888 decree and in Article 4 of the 2004 decree.
Alex Garofolo, 27 January 2015

The book [smi80] indicates the flag use only as -SW/---, possibly at that time there was no regulation regarding the state ships on lakes or so.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2001

The Album 2000 [pay00] says:

2. State Flag -SW/-S- 2:3
The note beside this flag describes that it is also the personal flag for the President of the Republic.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2001

It is du jure State Flag & Ensign C--/C-W; de facto Presidential Standard.
Alex Garofolo, s/d

Design

The Bolivian coat of arms of 1888 is placed in the middle of the state flag.
Jarig Bakker, 02 January 2002

Art. 4, point I, of the 2004 flag law prescribes the state flag; the image which illustrates it is very low quality and there is no indication (neither textual nor pictoric) of the size of the emblem — only that it should be “centered” on the yellow stripe and showing on both sides of the flag. (It is also left unsaid whather the emblem is mirrored or flipped on the flag’s reverse.)
António Martins, 19 August 2005

According to a detailed graphic of the arms at an official website, their proportions are 13:15 (and apparently occupying 13/17 the width of the central stripe), plus official Pantone colours of red 465, Process yellow and green 356.
Christopher Southworth, 02 Aug 2004

The Album 2000 [pay00] have the emblem much larger, about half of the flag hoist. The note beside this flag describes that it is also used in 1:2 variant. What’s the right size of the coat of arms in the state flag, it is prescribed anywhere at all?.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2001

Variations

Rotated emblem

[flag] image by António Martins, 16 March 2018 | (variant)

It is one of those special flags for indoor hoisting, with its emblem rotated to be aligned with the flag’s diagonal, seen in official use in this 2014 photo of President Evo Morales.
António Martins, 10 October 2017

Emblem on blue disc

[flag] image by António Martins, 09 May 2004 | (variant)

Flags and Arms across the World, by Whitney Smith [smi80] shows the coat of arms set in light blue disk of diameter equal to yellow stripe height.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2001

My sources (real flags and designs from French Embassy in La Paz and from Bolivian Consulate in Paris) concur to no blue disk.
Armand du Payrat, 12 March 2001

Art. 5, point IV, of the flag 2004 law, which prescribes the national coat of arms, includes a provision that «when needed» the it should have a “pearl blue” background, which may account for this variant / error.
António Martins, 19 August 2005

Large emblem and 1:2 ratio
[flag] image by António Martins, 27 September 1999

On Bolivian web sites [f.i., Bolivian.COM] there is a new version of the national flag, which I believe is only for decorative reasons. It shows the coat-of-arms stretching out over all three stripes!
Ralf Stelter, 13 June 1999

According to an original piece received from the Bolivian embassy in Paris (and a phone call from them), the flag should normally be in 2:3 ratio, the flag in 1:2 being an alternative variant.
Armand du Payrat, 28 September 1999

This large emblem version is kind of unofficial, but ceremonial version used when “it matters”, if I may put it that way.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2001

My sources (real flags and designs from French Embassy in La Paz and from Bolivian Consulate in Paris) have various sizes of coat of arms in flag.
Armand du Payrat, 12 March 2001

Parallel use of the wiphala

[flag] image by Kjell Roll Elgsaas and António Martins, 06 October 2017

See also:

When the country’s new constitution was adopted in 2009, «the Wiphala» was included as one of the national symbols, along with the tricolour flag
Jonathan Dixon, 25 September 2016


Presidential flag

[flag] by António Martins, 17 August 2005 | 15:22

The note beside the state flag in the Album 2000 [pay00] describes that it is also the personal flag for the President of the Republic and and that it is also used in 1:2 variant.
Željko Heimer, 11 March 2001

I’ve been in Bolivia in March 2001; over the presidential palace the plain tricolour is flown.
Mark Sensen, 03 July 2005

Presidential sash

I found this B.B.C. report on the 10th anniversary of Evo Morales’ mandate. There are a pair of photos of him in the Presidential Sash. In the 2006 photo, the sash is the plain tricolor. In the 2015 photo, the sash carries the national Coat of Arms and an indigenous checker pattern, the emblems are spaced so that the ornament of his chain of office sits between them.
Alex Garofolo, 04 February 2016

Two more images of Evo Morales with the new sash and other presidential regalia including the 7×7 Qulla Suyu flag motif, standing by both flags, as described.
António Martins, 10 October 2017


Flag used upside-down?

[flag] by António Martins, 06 April 2006

A friend of mine whose son is serving as a missionary in Bolivia said that his son has reported that the red stripe is up only in times of war. I said that that is more than likely an urban legend.
David Kendall, 27 June 2005

Very very fishy. The red stripe is up, according to the law, yet was at war last time in the 1920ies; even if it is red on the bottom (i.e., inverted flag) meaning war, it would be unthinkable to fly the coat of arms upside down (on the state flag).
António Martins, 03 July 2005 and 01 December 2006

Probably an urban legend, but possibly based on the Philippines war flag. I’m sure the father in question knows whether his son is in the Philippines or Bolivia, but if it’s a friend-of-a-friend story, the countries could shift.
Dean McGee, 10 April 2006


 
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