Saint Barthelemy is a French Overseas collectivity and therefore uses the French flag. However, there is unofficial flag, which is white with the coat of arms in the middle. The coat of arms consists of a blue shield with a red stripe at the center that divides the flag into three unequal parts. The top blue part of the shield contains three mural crowns (Fleurs-de-lis). The red center stripe has a Maltase cross while the bottom blue part of the shield contains three gold crowns. On top of the shield is a castle with three rooks and inlets. Two pelicans, each with one foot stepping on the shield, face each other laterally on either side with their wings flapped open. The other feet of the two pelicans rest on a ribbon below the shield with the words OUANALAO.
Colors on the coat of arms were originally adopted from the French Tricolor because the Island is an overseas collectivity of France. Blue and red colors are the original colors of Paris - the former represents Saint Martin while the latter Saint-Denis. The Maltase Cross symbolizes the fact that the island was French, governed in the order of Malta. Three golden crowns show the Swedish rule on the island spanning from 1785 to 1878. The mural crown is an ancient symbol of the Greek gods protecting the lands. The two pelicans represent the natural fauna found on the island while the “Ouanalao” is the island’s local name given by its original inhabitants, the Arawak, in 1493.
In 1977, the French government asked the local municipalities and their respective departments to adopt a “une marque symbolique urbaine,” French for an urban symbolic mark. The local municipality contacted a professional artist, Mireille Louis, who signed a contract that gave her all commercial rights to the coat of arms upon completion of her design work. The artist completed her task and kept her rights as agreed on in the contract.
Before adopting the Local Flag, St. Barthelemy used the French Tricolor as their official flag from 1648-1758. The French flag was however not hoisted from 1785-1878, when the island was traded. After the French bought the island back, they raised their flag until 2007 when the island adopted the Local Flag.
This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018
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