One of the most popular uses of a flag is to symbolize a nation or country. Some national flags have been particularly inspirational to other nations, countries, or subnational entities in the design of their own flags. Some prominent examples include:
The flag of Denmark, the Dannebrog, is attested in 1478, and is the oldest national flag still in use. It inspired the cross designof the other Nordic countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and regional Scandinavian flags for the Faroe Islands, Åland,Scania and Bornholm, as well as flags for the non-Scandinavian Shetland and Orkney.
The flag of the Netherlands is the oldest tricolour. Its three colours of red, white and blue go back to Charlemagne's time, the 9th century. The coastal region of what today is the Netherlands was then known for its cloth in these colours. Maps from the early 16th century already put flags in these colours next to this region, like Texeira's map of 1520. A century before that, during the 15th century, the three colours were mentioned as the coastal signals for this area, with the 3 bands straight or diagonal, single or doubled. As state flag it first appeared around 1572 as the Prince's Flag in orange–white–blue. Soon the more famous red–white–blue began appearing, becoming the prevalent version from around 1630. Orange made a come back during the civil war of the late 18th century, signifying the orangist or pro-stadtholder party. During WW2 the pro-nazi NSB used it. Any symbolism has been added later to the three colours, although the orange comes from the House of Orange-Nassau. Surprisingly, this use of orange comes from Nassau, which today uses orange-blue, not from Orange, which today uses red-blue. However, the usual way to show the link with the House of Orange-Nassau is the orange pennant above the red-white-blue.
It's said that the Dutch Tricolour has inspired many flags but most notably those of Russia, New York City, and South Africa (the 1928–94 flag as well the current flag). As the probable inspiration for the Russian flag, it is the source too for thePan-Slavic colours red, white and blue, adopted by many Slavic states and peoples as their symbols. Examples: Slovakia, Serbia, andSlovenia.
The national flag of France was designed in 1794. As a forerunner of revolution, France's tri-colour flag style has been adopted by other nations. Examples: Italy, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Haiti, Romania and Mexico.
The Union Flag (Union Jack) of the United Kingdom is the most commonly used. British colonies typically flew a flag based on one of the ensigns based on this flag, and many former colonies have retained the design to acknowledge their cultural history. Examples:Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Tuvalu, and also the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia, and the American state of Hawaii; .
The flag of the United States is nicknamed The Stars and Stripes or Old Glory. Some nations imitated this flag so as to symbolize their similarity to the United States and/or the American Revolution. Examples: Liberia, Chile, Malaysia and the French region of Brittany.
Ethiopia was seen as a model by emerging African states of the 1950s and 1960s, as it was one of the oldest independent states in Africa. Accordingly, its flag became the source of the Pan-African colours, or 'Rasta colours'. Examples: Benin, Togo, Senegal,Ghana, Mali, Guinea.
The flag of Turkey, which is very similar to the last flag of the old Ottoman Empire, has been an inspiration for the flag designs of many other Muslim nations. During the time of the Ottomans the crescent began to be associated with Islam and this is reflected on the flags of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Libya, Mauritania, Pakistan and Tunisia.
The Pan-Arab colours, green, white, red and black, are derived from the flag of the Great Arab Revolt as seen on the flags ofJordan, Libya, Kuwait, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine.
The Soviet flag, with its golden symbols of the hammer and sickle on a red field, was an inspiration to flags of other communiststates, such as East Germany, People's Republic of China, Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan (1978–1980) and Mozambique.
The flag of Venezuela, created by Francisco de Miranda to represent the independence movement in Venezuela that later gave birth to the "Gran Colombia", inspired the flags of Colombia, Ecuador, and the Federal Territories in Malaysia, all sharing three bands of yellow, blue and red with the flag of Venezuela.
The flag of Argentina, created by Manuel Belgrano during the war of independence, was the inspiration for the United Provinces of Central America's flag, which in turn was the origin for the flags of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
National flag designs are often used to signify nationality in other forms, such as flag patches.