The easily characteristics of the Switzerland white cross with a red background flag is what we think as one of the most recognizable flags in the world, but why does Switzerland have a square flag instead of rectangle? In this post we look into the history of the Switzerland flag as well as 9 interesting facts about it.
History Of the Swiss Flag
The exact origins of Switzerland’s flag are not entirely clear when looking into the history of it, but it is believed and shared on many historical sites that it dates back to the 14th century.
According to one Swiss legend, Swiss soldiers who were fighting in the Battle of Laupen in 1339 affixed a white cross to their clothing to distinguish themselves from their Austrian opponents, who were also using a red cross as a symbol. So the soldiers from all different cantons decided to do the same.
The white cross on a red background eventually became associated with Switzerland and was formally adopted as the country’s flag in the 19th century. So it is not as old as you may think!
As for why the flag has a rectangular shape, that is not entirely clear either. Of course it is not actually a square, but rather a rectangular shape with a ratio of 1:1.5.
There was one occasion that the square flag actually became rectangle. This was during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, decided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that all flags must be rectangular. This was so that no one would stand out based on a difference in shape of their flag, providing equality.
One theory suggests that it was a practical decision for making the flag this size. As a rectangular flag is easier to fold and store than a square one. Another theory suggests that it was a conscious decision to differentiate the Swiss flag from other flags that were commonly square-shaped at the time.
Did you know the flags of all the 26 Switzerland cantons are also square? Yep!
“What’s the best thing about living in Switzerland?”
“Well, the flag is a big plus”.
Facts About The Switzerland Flag
There are some interesting facts about the Switzerland flag too. Here is our list:
- The Swiss flag is officially called the Swiss Cross (in German: Schweizerkreuz; in French: Croix suisse; in Italian: Croce svizzera).
- As you may know, the easily recognizable design of the flag is a white cross on a red background. The arms of the cross are one-sixth longer than they are wide.
- The Swiss flag has a ratio of 1:1.5 like mentioned above, meaning that it is one-and-a-half times as long as it is wide.
- The Swiss flag is one of only two national flags in the world that is square or nearly square in shape. The other is the flag that is also square is of the Vatican City.
- The official colour of the Swiss flag for printed government logos is Pantone 485C.
- The Swiss flag has been used since the 14th century, but it was only officially adopted as the national flag in 1848.
- The Swiss flag is used by several international organizations headquartered in Switzerland, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization.
- In Switzerland, it is customary to display the Swiss flag on public and private buildings, as well as on ships, aircraft, and vehicles.
- The Swiss flag is a symbol of Switzerland’s neutrality and independence, as well as its values of peace, democracy, and solidarity. If you’re ever in Switzerland for the 1st August National Switzerland Day, you will be amazed to see so many Switzerland flags!
So it still may not be 100% clear when looking at the history to why does Switzerland have a square flag, but we are a little more understanding based on historical events.
We’re personally a fan of the flag, and now that we are now local Swiss expats, we do see the passion that everyone has when celebrating Swiss national and public holidays with the flag present in the events, food, clothing and more!