The island of Martinique is a territorial collectivity of France. Therefore, its official flag is the Tricolor, which is the French National flag. The flag of France consists of three equal width of vertical bands colored blue, white, and red, in that order. It was adopted on February 15, 1794. The snake flag of Martinique is also used on the island. Although it is not the official flag, it is widely recognized. It is also used on public buildings, by the military, and by the gendarmes. It was first adopted in 1766 as a distinctive version of the French ensign. It was to be used by the vessels from Martinique and St. Lucia to make them easily identifiable as they approached ports. It is made up of a blue background with a white cross in the middle and a white snake in each of the blue quarters.

The snake on the unofficial flag of Martinique are the poisonous fer-de-lance vipers common and indigenous to the island. There are several theories explaining the meaning of the colors of the Tricolor, the official flag of France and Martinique. One theory states that they represent the motto of the French Revolution with blue representing liberté (freedom), white representing egalité (equality) and red representing fraternité (brotherhood). Another theory is that the red and blue represent the colors of the flag of Paris and the white represents the House of Bourbon. The snake flag was adopted as a variant of the French ensign which was a white cross on a blue background. The snakes were added to symbolize the Martinique lanceheads.

The French national flag came about when the colors of the cockades, which were the emblems that would be stuck on the militia hats used during the French Revolution, were put together to come up with the flag. Theories on how the colors were chosen are as varied as the meaning of the colors, although the then Marquis de Lafayette, Gilbert du Motier, is often credited with the combination of the colors

The use of the flag was stopped briefly during the period known as the Bourbon Restoration, from 1814 to 1830. This is when the monarch was restored shortly after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814 and right up to when King Charles X fled and abdicated his throne in August 1830. During this period, a white flag was used. This was the same flag that was used as the Royal Standard before the French Revolution.

This page was last modified on November 22nd, 2017