Flags of Antarctica

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Flag of the Antarctic Treaty.

Prior to 2002 Antarctica had no official flag as the condominium that governs the continent had not yet formally selected one even though a particular design was in widespread use. The consultative members of the Antarctic Treaty System officially adopted a flag and emblem in 2002, which is now the official symbol of the continent.[1] Several unofficial designs have also been proposed.

Proposed designs

Several sources have suggested various designs, including one by Graham Bartram and one by Whitney Smith.

Graham Bartram

The Graham Bartram design.

The Graham Bartram design uses the flag of the United Nations as its model. A plain white map of the continent on a blue background symbolizes neutrality (Bartram was well aware of the overlapping territorial claims of the United Kingdom, Chile, and Argentina when he designed the flag). This flag was actually flown on the Antarctic continent for the first time in 2002, when Ted Kaye (then editor of Raven, the scholarly journal of the North American Vexillological Association) took several full-size flags in the Bartram design on an Antarctic cruise. The bases of Brazil, Ukraine, and the UK all flew it from their flagpoles, making its raising "official". He presented a paper ("Flags Over Antarctica") which described the first flying of the Bartram design over Antarctica in Stockholm in 2003, at the 20th International Congress of Vexillology. It is perhaps the most popular flag for Antarctica, as seen by its prevalence on the Internet.[citation needed]

Whitney Smith

The Whitney Smith design.

The Whitney Smith design uses the high-visibility color orange as its background (it is the international rescue color, it contrasts the best against snow, and to avoid any confusion, is unlike almost any national flag on Earth). The emblem consists of several components. 'A' stands for Antarctica. The bottom segment of the globe represents Antarctica's "position" on Earth (according to the modern convention of drawing maps with north on top), while the two hands holding up the globe segment represent peaceful human use. The emblem is colored white to represent the snow and ice of Antarctica and is offset toward the hoist of the flag so as to maintain its integrity should the flag fray badly in the high winds prevalent upon the continent. However, there is no record of it ever being fabricated or used, despite being displayed in some atlases.[citation needed]

Territorial flags

The nations of the Antarctic Treaty use their own national flags at their respective Antarctic research bases. Some nations however have their own flags for their Antarctic possessions.

British Antarctic Territory

British Antarctic Territory Flag

The flag of the British Antarctic Territory is a plain White Ensign defaced by the Coat of Arms of the Territory. Other British territories in the Antarctic region are the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which have their own flags (see Flag of the Falkland Islands and Flag of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).

Adélie Land/French Southern and Antarctic Territories

Flag of the Administrator of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories

The flag of the Administrator (Commissioner) of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, which includes Adélie Land, has the French tricolor in the canton together with the Commissioner's arms. The coat of arms consists of five stars and the letters "TAAF" (from the French name of the territory, Terres australes et antarctiques françaises). The flag was adopted in 2007.[2]

Argentine Antarctica/Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego flag

The Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego includes Argentine Antarctica (25 degrees W to 74 degrees W). The flag was adopted in 1999 as the result of a competition. It is a diagonal bicolor of sky blue and orange with an albatross in the center and the Southern Cross in the fly.

Chilean Antarctic Territory/Magallanes Region

Magallanes Region flag

The Antártica Chilena Province in the Magallanes Region includes the Chilean claim on the continent (53 degrees W to 90 degrees W). Puerto Williams is the capital of this province, which also includes the islands south of Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn. The Magallanes Region's flag also has the Southern Cross appearing over a mountain range.

Ross Dependency

Unofficial Ross Dependency flag

Currently, only the New Zealand national flag serves in an official capacity in the Ross Dependency. The only other 'official' flag seen in photographs was the New Zealand Post flag to denote Scott Base's post office.

Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica) uses the New Zealand flag, but vexillologist James Dignan's design concept was seen flying there at one time (when a friend of Dignan took it with him to Vanda Station in 1994). The New Zealand flag is the basis for his design, though with an 'Ice Blue' background representing the Ross Sea, and the white horizontal bar at the bottom of the flag representing the Ross Ice Shelf.[citation needed]


Flag of Nazi Germany, used by the former German protectorate of New Swabia 


  1. "Decision 2 (2002) - ATCM XXV - CEP V, Warsaw".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Philatelie des TAAF

External links