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Follow the Flags

By Phil Graf

Here’s another take on Armchair Travel. We provide you with a growing list of flag images, you employ your computer research skills, and discover how to identify the flag. 

In four easy steps, these colorful flags can transport you away from the here and now to places you know and love as well as places you’ve never heard of.

ONE

Check out this Glossary and keep it handy for your flag “research.” You will find that daily application of these words makes them familiar, and will be a great help in your demystification and identification of flags.

Follow the Flags Glossary

  • Glossary - a necessary and useful reference in identifying flags
  • Field - the background of a flag; the color behind the charges
  • Hoist - the half or edge of a flag nearest to the flagpole - it sometimes refers to the vertical dimension of the flag
  • Fly - the half or edge of a flag farthest away from the flagpole. It sometimes refers to the horizontal length of the flag.
  • Canton - most usually the upper hoist quarter of the flag, such as the field of stars in the American flag - it can refer to any quarter of the flag
  • Badge - a coat of arms or simple heraldic symbol
  • Charge - a figure or symbol appearing in the field of a flag
  • Emblem - a device often used as a charge on a flag, heraldic or modern, e.g. the maple leaf on the Canadian flag

TWO

Armed with your Glossary and the image of the individual flag (below), open your favorite search engine—I use Google—and make your first entry with a single word: “Flag.” This defines the general subject.

THREE

Flag of Bhutan

Scrutinize this flag through the lens of the glossary.

Field - the background is two colors, yellow/orange, equally divided along a diagonal line from the lower point of the Hoist to the upper end of the Fly. The upper/hoist triangle is yellow, the lower/fly triangle is orange. The Charge/Badge/Emblem is a white dragon facing the fly and astride the diagonal line.

Entering that information will allow the program to give you one or more flags that meet that description or are close to it. The more precise you are and the more details you offer, the better. I find that Wikipedia entries are most complete and helpful.

FOUR

Based on your description, you will learn that this flag is from Bhutan.

However, flags tell us so much more than the “name” of a place, be it city or region or country, but also about its history, or its place in history. Flags are full of symbols, many reaching back to medieval times with its heraldry and coats of arms, the symbolic use of color, the remarkable evidence of what a flag is and what it stands for: a place, a people and its culture. You’ll become acquainted with vexillology, the study of flags and their origin.

Start your travels on the internet and go where your interests lead you.

CONTINUE YOUR ARMCHAIR TRAVEL

Using the simple steps above, identify the four flags below. (More flag images will come soon.)

As you engage in flag pursuit, I encourage you to keep a record of the flag's identity and a few pertinent and memorable facts. If you have questions or comments about this program or about a particular flag, contact Follow the Flags.

Flags of: Cities/States/Provinces

Flag 1
Flag 2
Flag 3
Flag 4