And You Thought You Knew Your European Flags:
February 19, 2002 1:27 AM   Subscribe

And You Thought You Knew Your European Flags: A depressing little exercise, guaranteed to expose the ignoramus in each and every one of us. Some of the countries themselves were news to me; never mind the friggin' flags![via Bifurcated Rivets]
posted by MiguelCardoso (19 comments total)
5 out of 10. Eastern European ones were the killer..

I think national flags are one of these things that you learn when you're a kid - and when I was a kid half these flags didn't exist. Maybe that says something about the nature of visual memory?

PS. Interface is a bit ropey: flags too small, have to click on a country name to pick.. I couldn't even find Switzerland at first.
posted by jiroczech at 1:48 AM on February 19, 2002

Never mind that. The question is, what letter grade would you give them?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:05 AM on February 19, 2002

3 of 10 (drew mostly new countries), then 6 of 10 with better-known ones. And I had clicky-place problems on both runs that didn't help. And the flags could be slightly bigger.

But, as much as I'm a compendium trivium myself, it doesn't bug me too much. National flags in general, tend toward a boring similarity. Three bars, three different colors, vertical or horizontal -- that describes way too many. Some of them go for an historic emblem to jazz it up. Red white and blue is most certainly not an American exclusive (France, Russia, sundry Slavic lands ...)

I rather like all the Scandinavian cross flags, although remembering which is which can be a problem even when I think I'm sure. Sweden (I'm half Swedish) is easy, Norway is seemingly a combo of Denmark's and Finland's (which makes no historical sense, of course) ... The Union Jack is memorable, and Old Glory (sliding off of Europe) is fairly unique. (The quarter-field thing used to be a lot more common.) But few flags are as original, thematically appropriate, and recognizable as Canada's maple leaf, Brazil's cosmodrome, or South Africa's arrow to the future.

By the way, the professional vexillologists did a poll regarding the US state flags, and with a few exceptions was pretty disappointed, especially with the "compromise" Georgia flag.

Here's what they say about what makes a good flag:

The highest-scoring flags all embody the five basic principles listed in NAVA’s upcoming publication on flag design, Good Flag, Bad Flag:

1. Keep It Simple (The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory…)

2. Use Meaningful Symbolism (The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes…)

3. Use 2–3 Basic Colors (Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set…)

4. No Lettering or Seals (Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal…)

5. Be Distinctive or Be Related (Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections…)

posted by dhartung at 2:05 AM on February 19, 2002

dhartung: I disagree with those vexillologists (FYI, a brand new word for me, yay mefi!). The maryland flag (#4 on their list) is hideous, they really need to add to their requirements that the colors and patterns should match in some way.
posted by malphigian at 7:44 AM on February 19, 2002

10/10 the first time, but it repeated France and Hungary, so I did it again, and got 9/10 (Bosnia changed its flag on me). I'm a geography geek. (So I knew Andorra. So sue me.)
posted by mcwetboy at 7:52 AM on February 19, 2002

joe's_spleen: I never thought I could laugh at loud at a flag. Thanks. I recommend starting with the A's, then going down until the failing ones.
posted by Turtle at 8:09 AM on February 19, 2002

5 out of 10 on my first try. Blame Eastern Europe again. All these new countries/flags popping up in the last ten years... And I'm french, so there =)
posted by XiBe at 8:11 AM on February 19, 2002

Good thing I watched the Olympic opening ceremonies the other night and knew that Bosnia had redesigned its flag.

I tried the game twice, and the second time I kept getting the same flags over and over in the game (I think Russia came up three times in one game).

I think jiroczech has it right -- I learned all of the flags of the world when I was a kid, but the breakup of the Soviet Union and realignment of some Eastern European countries introduced a lot of new flags in the last ten years.
posted by briank at 8:35 AM on February 19, 2002

4 out of 10. They all look the same! I scored higher after that, but the Eastern European ones really threw me off, and I don't think I had ever seen the flag of Luxembourg before.

Is this some kind of ploy to make us think more highly of the EU, now we only have to know one flag to represent several states?
posted by insomnyuk at 8:38 AM on February 19, 2002

For more Flag Fun, take a look at Mark Napier's Web art net.flag, just purchased by ol' Thom Krens at the Guggenheim -- for a reported $15K or so.
posted by boardman at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2002

3 outta 10
Damn u vexi .... ah flag freaks
posted by johnny7 at 8:51 AM on February 19, 2002

Here's what they say about what makes a good flag:

A good flag makes for easy face painting before a FIFA world cup game. Seriously.
posted by iceberg273 at 9:27 AM on February 19, 2002

9 out of 10. The Yugoslav flag looks annoyingly like the Dutch flag. Grr....

I presume individual States in America have their own flags. I would probably get 0/10 on such a test.
posted by salmacis at 9:31 AM on February 19, 2002

6 out of 10, but all six were well known.
posted by riffola at 10:27 AM on February 19, 2002

Dude, I suck. 2/10 then 3/10. I got almost all Eastern European countries though. But I still suck.
posted by aacheson at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2002

Most Americans wouldn't even figure out their own state's flag, salmacis.


I got 4/10. It'd've been 3/10 if it weren't for the fact that I, too, watched the march of athletes ceremonies and noticed the laziness of Poland and Monaco's flag. At least Japan requires you to make it a circle, which is harder than the cross of Switzerland and Denmark.

I'd go on, but what's the point.
posted by linux at 12:36 PM on February 19, 2002

Kazakhstan is European?
posted by rodii at 1:29 PM on February 19, 2002

None at all. Not a single one. Nada. Nil. Zip.

I thought the Italian flag was easy until it turned out to be the Republic of Ireland flag.

(Yes, I know.)

I even placed the Portugese flag somewhere in Eastern Europe.

I'm very, very sorry.
posted by Grangousier at 1:36 PM on February 19, 2002

I even placed the Portugese flag somewhere in Eastern Europe.

And you spelled Portuguese without its second U!

Why I oughtta...

Not really. Our ridiculous flag was designed in 1910 when the bad republicans overthrew eight centuries of good-natured monarchy. Our original flag, back from 1143, is much better. In those days all the good designs hadn't been taken, either! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:03 PM on February 19, 2002

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