The official (civil) flag of Finland is called the "siniristilippu", or the "blue cross flag". The flag has a blue Nordic cross with its center oriented towards the hoist side, characteristic of all Nordic flags. It is set on a white background. In addition to the civil flag, Finland has two other variant flags, including the state flag which has a swallow-tailed shape with the blue cross on a white background. It also features a coat of arms at the center of the blue cross. However, the state flag is only allowed to be flown by authorities. The third type is the presidential flag, which has the swallow-tailed shape and blue cross but with the cross of liberty at the left upper quadrant. The siniristilippu was officially adopted on May 29, 1918.
The white background color on the Finnish flag symbolizes the snowy Finnish landscape. The white color is also linked to the history of Christianity within Nordic culture. The blue color of the cross signifies the abundance of the lakes and the clear sky of Finland.
After Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917, the country needed a new flag to identify their sovereignty. In the quest to create a new flag, authorities set up a design competition. Although several varying designs were submitted, the eventual winner of the contest was the blue and white cross that is flown in Finland today.
The history of the Finnish flag dates back to 1848 when the first known flag of Finland was presented. This flag featured the coat of arms of the country surrounded by leaves on white background. The yacht club, founded in Helsinki in 1861, is known to have flown the first ever blue and white flag in Finland. After gaining independence from Russia, the flag was still based on the coat of arms— a red field with a gold and white lion with roses around a design that was far from the more acceptable blue and white designs. Few changes have been made to the blue and white flag since its inception, including the most recent changes in January 1995.
This page was last modified on November 22nd, 2017