The Swiss Flag: It’s History, Meaning & More

The Swiss Flag

The Swiss flag as a white cross on a red background is very distinctive and is recognisable all around the world.

Not only is the flag of Switzerland simple, but the red color is bold and the square design is unique too!

The reasons for its existence and design go back nearly 1000 years and are also strongly intertwined with the Red Cross, as you may suspect.

History of the Switzerland Flag

The Swiss flag’s history dates back as far as the battle of Laupen in 1339 when Swiss soldiers wore the symbol of a white cross on a red background while on the battlefield. The reason they did this was to appear differently to the other soldiers on the field that day.

However, this symbol did not officially become the Swiss flag until December 12, 1889, when it was legally declared. Although, it was used back in 1848 by the army after not being seen on the field since 1339.

Interestingly, the Swiss flag was designed as a white cross on a red background with a square shape. However, during the Olympics, a rectangular flag version was created to comply with IOC rules.

Why is the Swiss Flag Unique?

The Swiss flag is unique because it is one of two square flags in the world. The rest of the flags have a rectangular shape.

Is the Swiss Flag Square or Rectangular?

The standard Swiss flag is square, however, under exceptional circumstances, such as complying with Olympic regulations, the Swiss have been known to use a rectangular one.

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Is Switzerland the Only Country With a Square Flag?

Both the Swiss flag and Vatican City flag are square, although if we are to be fair, Switzerland is far more of a country than the Vatican since it is really a city-state and only covers 100 acres

Why Is The Swiss Flag The Same As The Red Cross?

swiss flag
Swiss Flag

It is not by accident that the Swiss Flag and the Red Cross are so similar. When the Red Cross was founded in 1864 the founding committee had to come up with a unique symbol. The committee decided that the red cross, the inverse of the Swiss flag, was unique, easily distinguishable from a distance and representative of the organisation’s neutrality, just like Switzerland. Perhaps one of the founding members’, Henri Dunant’s, Swiss citizenship also influenced the decision.

Its design was inspired by the Geneva Convention in 1864. The emblem is an inverted Swiss flag in honor of Henry Dunant, a founding member of the International Red Cross. First historical representation of the Swiss flag in the Battle of Laupen June 21, 1339.

Swiss Flag Vs Red Cross Flag

Although the Swiss flag and the Red Cross flag are similar, there are some key differences. The Swiss flag has a white cross on a red background while the Red cross flag has a red cross on a white background.

Swiss Canton Flags

Each of Switzerland’s cantons has its own flag with usually a very long history as well. Find out all about the 23 canton flags.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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